I've Sold Millions of Records and Ideas to the Biggest Artists and Executives In the World. Here's How to Be More Persuasive. You might be missing the most important part of persuasion.

By Clinton Sparks

Key Takeaways

  • Products fulfill emotional needs — understand and cater to those feelings for successful pitches.
  • The secret to creating lasting connections and achieve business goals.
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It starts with understanding that you are not selling a product or a service. You are selling a feeling.

Most people don't realize the underlying reason why they buy the products that they do. Meanwhile, most sellers don't recognize what they are selling.

  • Clothes make you feel confident.
  • A Lamborghini makes you feel successful.
  • An alarm system makes you feel safe.
  • Makeup makes you feel beautiful.

It's not the product that was bought — it was the feeling it provided.

One day, I was in Las Vegas in a meeting with Pitbull and his team, telling him why he should invest in my company. During the meeting, he jokingly made a comment to the room.

"Clinton can sell water to a drowning man."

Everyone in the room laughed.

Most people would receive this comment as a compliment — recognizing a good salesman's strength and ability to sell anything to anyone. And that's exactly what Pitbull meant by it. However, even though I know he was being playful, I don't see his comment as something someone should take pride in.

Image credit: Clinton Sparks

To sell water to a drowning man would mean I'm trying to sell something to someone who has no use for what I have to offer. When trying to sell something, it's easy to get caught up in convincing someone that your product is worthwhile, when instead you need to convince them it will fill an emotional void.

The key to selling anything to anyone is to fully understand how your product makes your customers feel. How does your product provide them value? How does it impact their status, problems or situation? It requires helping others see the value in opportunities they may not see for themselves. But, to do that, you have to understand what they need to feel.

Clinton Sparks is an Entrepreneur+ contributor. Check out his bio here.

Consider your relationships and how they apply to business

When seeking out someone to build a romantic relationship with, most only consider what it is about the other person that can fulfill their own needs, desires or expectations.

How often do you consider what they want?

Do you consider if you're the right choice for them? Do you fulfill everything they want in a romantic relationship, or do you just look for qualities in them that interest you — like their looks, personality, sense of humor or job?

I have never heard anyone say, "This is perfect. I'm exactly what they need and have been looking for."

More From the Author: How to Capitalize On Your Good Ideas

Most people only care if the other person is what they've been looking for — and most don't consider if they are perfect for the other person. This is a selfish approach in personal and business relationships that won't yield you the results you're looking for.

How do you know if what you have to offer is valuable to others?

In my career, I've had to raise capital for a company, persuade famous artists to participate on my records, and get others to join in my new ideas. I've consistently achieved my desired outcome by applying the same process:

1. Understand what they've done or missed out on in the past.

I made a record called Gold Rush that features artists Macklemore and 2 Chainz. Being aware of what these artists have done in the past allowed me to bring 2 Chainz into a sound that wasn't traditional for him and that he wanted to participate in. It also allowed me to bring a collaboration to Macklemore that, at the time, he hadn't had because most major hip-hop artists were not up on his music. The result was a successful record that included Tommy Lee and Tyrese in the music video.

2. Recognize what matters to them right now. One time, I texted Diddy about a company I was working on. I went into sales mode and sent him a pressure text warning him about missing out on a massive opportunity if we didn't meet about my company.

Thirty minutes later, I realized it was the day his new album was released.

He doesn't care about my company that day. He's focused on what matters to him. Not only was it bad timing, but it was inconsiderate, and it appeared that I didn't care about his album, priorities or objectives.

It seemed that I only cared about mine. Imagine how that would make someone feel. You must take the time to understand the other party's current needs and situation.

3. Look at what your customers or clients are trying to achieve next.

When I was VP of business development at Faze Clan, an esports and entertainment organization, I brought in hip-hop artist Offset as an investor.

I knew he was a gamer who wanted to be more involved in the space, become a leader in this growing industry, and position himself as an accomplished executive and investor. Understanding this allowed me to architect a path to accomplish all these things when getting him to invest and join our company.

Related: Is FaZe Rug the Willy Wonka of Gen Z?

The company got a new investor and celebrity member. Offset joining Faze Clan became 40% of all media coverage for the company that year, garnering immense credibility in the industry as one of the first to make a serious investment in the space.

I earned Offset's trust, which led to a friendship and more business opportunities. That's a win-win-win.

To create a sustainable and equally beneficial business relationship, you must care about others' needs, objectives, concerns, vulnerabilities, pain points and past experiences — all of these are feelings.

Think about when someone tries to sell you. What bothered you? What annoyed you, or what got you to give in? Perhaps you said yes to a kid selling cookies out of guilt. When you buy the cookies from them, it relinquishes that feeling of guilt. You bought a better feeling.

My entire career is based on a few principles, which are:

  • Be kind
  • Over deliver
  • Only ask for something if I see both parties mutually benefiting

All of these provide a feeling.

These are some of the principles I live by that have allowed me to enjoy continued success and long-lasting relationships.

So, if you find yourself selling water to a drowning man to gain personal benefit and feel awesome because you convinced someone to buy something that doesn't have value for them, that's not being a great salesman. That's being a con artist.

Because just like in a relationship, they'll realize you only care about yourself, or the sale — and your success won't last.

When selling, you must always remember that you never sell a product or a service. You are — and will always be — selling a feeling. You can sell almost anything to anyone when you understand what others need to feel.

Want to see more from Clinton Sparks? Join Entrepreneur+, where he writes exclusive pieces and shares his best insights.

Clinton Sparks

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Creative Executive, DJ, Producer and Entertainment Mogul

Clinton is a renowned entertainment mogul, author, speaker, entrepreneur, visionary brand builder, creative executive, and leading-edge innovator when it comes to integrating culture, collaboration, and cross-platform marketing with an outstanding track record of success, and background managing multiple products from ideation to market launch.

He is also a Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum music producer, songwriter and DJ responsible for over 75 million records sold.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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