MSD competency C4


Persuade others and sell an idea

MSD competencies

Competency definition

Participants make a clear business case for organisations to adopt new strategies and practices. They convince people to try new things by tailoring their influence strategy to individual motivations and incentives.

Knowledge areas

Practitioners with this competency will be knowledgeable about concepts and ideas described and explored in these resources...

Skills and experience

Practitioners with this competency will have acquired qualifications, skills and practical experience that may include:

  • execution of promotional activities that aimed to provide an incentive for new behaviours using a limited time offer
  • development of new partnerships with other organisations - this could be in the nonprofit or government sector, or new customers in a business environment

Guidance for teaching this competency

Role play
Isolate a specific proposal or value proposition for practitioners to make to a market actor input supplier to experiment with an agent-based network. Prepare a team of actors (other programme staff) to play market actors with the same business but different circumstances and personalities. Get practitioners to practice short 10-15 minute ‘pitch’ meetings. They should use different psychological tactics to get the market actor to agree to try out a new business model. Include an observer to take notes and give specific feedback on the approach to persuasion.

Field practice
Find low-stakes opportunities for practitioners to persuade new partners to work with the programme. Choose scenarios that have a clear behavioural 'ask' that mean practitioners can see the results of their influence skills. For example participating in an interview as part of a market analysis, or attending a promotional event as part of a crowding in strategy.

Coaching & mentoring advice

  • Encourage practitioners to think beyond rational, logic-based appeals to include emotional and trust-based tactics.
  • Prompt practitioners to think about their influence approach just before they leave the office to meet with a partner or prospective partner.
  • Use regular weekly or monthly meetings to have all practitioners self-assess which influence strategies or principles they are over-relying on. Ask team members to take stock using a simple dashboard or scorecard to notice their dominant tendencies.
  • Pair up practitioners for critical meetings with partners so they can learn from each other’s influence tactics through direct observation.

Guidance for assessing this competency

Traditional questions
Use a mundane everyday object (e.g. pen, paper, item of clothing) and ask the interviewee to sell it to you. After a few minutes, stop the exercise and ask them to analyse their approach. Use this to unpack their ability to consciously apply different tactics – paying attention to the thought process rather than the result.

Direct observation 
Pay attention to how well practitioners build trust and rapport. Also how they adjust their language and framing to match the person they are trying to influence. Watch for examples of practitioners directly applying the six principles of influence - reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking and consensus. Debrief these specific points to see how they are learning when to apply different principles.

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