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The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas

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You may need The Art of War to defeat your enemies, but if you prefer to win them over, read The Art of Woo

G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa know what it takes to drive new ideas through complex organizations. They have advised thousands of executives from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and General Electric to organizations like the World Bank and even the FBI's hostage rescue training program. In The Art of Woo , they present their systematic, four- step process for winning over even the toughest bosses and most skeptical colleagues. Beginning with two powerful self-assessments to help readers find their "Woo IQ," they show how relationship-based persuasion works to open hearts and minds.

"Ranging across history, from Charles Lindbergh to Sam Walton, the authors examine how savvy negotiators use persuasion - not confrontation-to achieve goals." - U.S. News & World Report

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2007

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About the author

G. Richard Shell

15 books70 followers
G. Richard Shell is the Thomas Gerrity Professor of Legal Studies, Business Ethics, and Management at the Wharton School of Business. His latest book, The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values. Advance Your Career, is the essential guide to creating and maintaining ethical, speak-up cultures at work. His Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success (Penguin/Portfolio 2013), was named Business Book of Year for 2013 by the largest business bookseller in the United States. Shell is the Director of Wharton’s Executive Negotiation Workshop and its Strategic Persuasion Workshop and has taught everyone from Navy SEALs, UN diplomats, and Fortune 500 CEOs to FBI hostage negotiators, emergency room nurses, and front-line public school teachers. His earlier works include the award-winning Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People (2nd Edition, Penguin 2006)and (with co-author Mario Moussa) The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas (Portfolio/Penguin 2007). His books have sold over 500,000 copies and are available in over seventeen languages.

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5 stars
133 (21%)
4 stars
231 (36%)
3 stars
205 (32%)
2 stars
45 (7%)
1 star
11 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Camille Fabre.
57 reviews
December 28, 2015
I had the chance to attend a training by Richard Shell on The art of woo. For those who wonder what is the woo:
woo definition: winning others over. Or if you prefer, the art to persuade people. As the authors write it, "simple to say, hard to do".

They decompose the persuasion process into four steps:
- Survey the situation
- Confront the five barriers - consider all the barriers people have to overcome to be convinced; some of these barriers relate to your personality and credibility; others are dependent on your idea.
- Make your pitch
- Secure your commitments

The book is full of examples and anecdotes that make the theory far more digestible. The authors' favorite story is the story of Charles Lindbergh. He got the idea to try the nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in a single engine plane, alone, whereas all the other competitors in 1927 focused on planes with two or three engines and a crew of three pilots. Lindbergh was a shy and introvert man and he had to work a lot on himself before being able to pitch and secure funding for his project as people viewed his strategy as pure madness. An another interesting one is the story of Brad Garlinghouse, the author of the Peanut Butter Manifesto, which was published on the first page of the Wall Street Journal a few years back to convince Yahoo CEO to rethink his strategy.

And once you finish to go through everything, or you get bored by the theory, take a pen and fill the quizz in the Appendix A to discover your leadership style.

Profile Image for Gaetan T. Giannini.
Author 2 books2 followers
February 26, 2010
Applied Woo
In their book, Art of Woo (Penguin 2007), authors Richard Shell and Mario Moussa present “the selling of ideas” from a sales/negotiation perspective. Despite their rather broad framing of the subject, their discourse is highly instructive for Marketing Public Relations professionals. One of several points that are worth noting is their discussion of barriers to woo. Shell and Moussa consider relationships, credibility, communications mismatches, belief systems, and interest and needs to be the major obstructions to successful persuasion, and, I will argue, they are the same hurdles faced by marketers when pitching journalists and other connectors.
Clearly, relationships are critical to PR. The better we know our connectors and the better they know us, the more likely our chances of getting media mentions from connectors picking up our stories, or by their coming to us for assistance on something they are already working on.
Credibility is obvious, but the key to being a trusted source and strengthening the newsworthiness of a pitch.
Communications mismatches manifest themselves in the mundane and operational side of PR when marketers forget to pitch connectors in the format and in the timeframe that suits the connector best. Is a journalist more receptive to a phone call, email, or a letter in the mail? Is there a certain time of day week, or month that is typically best? Communications mismatches also occur when styles clash. For some editors and journalists bold, over-the-top pitches work really well, for others, they do not.
A match also needs to exist between the story you are pitching and the belief system of the connector. In the case of pitching in PR it is more about knowing the mission and audience of the connector’s medium than understanding the socio-cultural profile of the connector himself, although both are important.
The last barrier is one that MPR pros are keenly aware of-interests and needs. Connectors are charged with producing content that is interesting to their audience, is in line with the mission of their medium, and supports their editorial calendar. If you can show how it will also please their advertisers or help their medium’s sales people sell into a specific issue or episode, you’ve struck gold.
Check out Art of Woo.
Profile Image for Sergei_kalinin.
451 reviews165 followers
July 20, 2013
Довольно любопытное руководство по "продаже идей". Этапы и приёмы переговоров в мягком стиле, основанных на выстраивании хороших отношений со всеми заинтересованными лицами.

Более подробная рецензия и интеллект-карта по книге - в моём блоге: http://s-kalinin.blogspot.ru/2013/07/...
Profile Image for Seymour.
12 reviews3 followers
November 8, 2019
Neat framework for navigating the world of human interaction in organizations. I am amazed at the authors’ ability to neatly catalogue the complex and messy individual and group behavior backed up by solid research and proven methods. Each chapter builds on previous one, showing how persuasion and influence works, how to build relationships, credibility, navigate politics, and deliver ideas in a compelling way. Last chapter is an excellent finale.
Profile Image for Steele Dimmock.
157 reviews3 followers
May 16, 2014
This book opens strong. I was blown away by the persuasion channels that you can use to get someone to do something; Authority, Rationality, Vision, Relationships, Interests and Politics. To me this was really ground breaking stuff and probably my most valuable take-away.

But everything started to go down hill around the time they ask you to fill out the questionaire to find out what type of persuader you are; Commander, Chess Player, Promoter, Advocate and Driver. To me, this was a fruitless exercise and because my scores across all 5 were almost identical, the case studies explaining each persuader in detail, left me unsure whether they were I should find them relevant or not.

3 Stars - Great work on persuasion channels, but the rest of the book is forgettable and, I felt, explained the obvious.
Profile Image for Vaishali.
1,032 reviews263 followers
January 8, 2019
Ugh. Skip this; just meanders too much. Never read a book by academics studying successful leaders... read the books by those leaders themselves.

Newish revelations :

“Skilled negotiators spent about 40% of their time at the bargaining table asking questions…. while average negotiators devoted only 20% … The rest of their time was spent proposing, arguing, defending their positions and haggling, activities that discouraged the candid flow of interest-based information.”

“The more problems and needs you address, the wider the base of support you can build within the organization.”

"A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.” - Charles Kettering

“How you state the problem defines what your audience will see in its mind’s eye.


Profile Image for V Massaglia.
318 reviews3 followers
March 19, 2012
Woo: "It is a relationship-based persuasion, a strategic process for getting people's attention, pitching your ideas, and obtaining approval for your plans and projects."

Who Woo Works:
Step 1 - Survey your situation
Step 2 - Confront the five barriers (negative relationships, poor credibility, communication mismatches, contrary belief systems, conflicting interests)
Step 3 - Make your pitch
Step 4 - Secure your commitments.

"Everyone's Favorite Topic: Their Own Needs"

Profile Image for Lauren Burroughs.
81 reviews4 followers
December 8, 2022
Read Full Review

It truly is a framework that they give the user on how to be more persuasive. It's incredibly tactical and helpful.

They break their Woo Process into four "easy" steps. The problem is that each step has many steps. In order to diagnose the best strategy you also need to understand what your personal style is (of which there are five) and you need to understand what channels of persuasion will dominate with your audience (of which they lay out six). That's all before you even get to the pitch.

Like many professional development books, there were plenty of examples here. Many could have easily been cut in the editing process without detracting from the authority with which they were presenting the material.

Overall, I liked this one. The framework alone is reason enough to read this. Even if the only people you're persuading are your spouse to order your favorite for dinner.
Profile Image for Sy. C.
134 reviews15 followers
September 25, 2017
OK read. The topical bibliography at the end lists some pretty interesting biographies. The authors concisely summarize some of the mental frameworks for negotiating, pitching, building political alliances, and overcoming some of the common pitfalls to getting buy-in for an idea. They also do a good job of providing ample real-life examples. Probably best audience are recent graduates or anyone who needs a framework for navigating the political realities of selling and then implementing an idea within large organizations where many factors from stepping on people's toes to not having a sufficiently inclusive coalition can torpedo the best of ideas. 3.5 to 4 stars.
Profile Image for Nika.
78 reviews18 followers
July 12, 2020
Jika anda ingin mempelajari seni bernegosiasi dan seni membuat orang berkata "ya", maka buku ini bisa menjadi salah satu referensi anda. Isi dari buku ini menarik dan disertai beragam contoh yang memudahkan untuk mebayangkan nasihat yang diberikan. Konten juga tidak hanya bermanfaat dalam bisnis, namun juga dapat dikaitkan dengan hubungan interpersonal. Sayangnya, bahasa penulis terlalu "akademis" sehingga saya cukup lama menyelesaikan buku ini.
Profile Image for Todd Benschneider.
88 reviews4 followers
August 23, 2018
A valuable must read on the topic of selling and the psychology of the decision making process. Too bad that the title doesnt convey that the contents are scholarly research. Many conclusions drawn from a wide range of other scholar's research, comes accross as very credible and most importantly the conclusions inutitively make sense.
Profile Image for Isabel Hogue.
Author 5 books1 follower
October 31, 2018
I listened to the audio version and then bought the print version.
This book is a good lesson in civility, among other things.
On the audio version, the one thing I found distracting was the reader's attempt to "make character voices." Very difficult to do effectively, and when done poorly, well . . . it distracts from the text. That's all I'll say.
Profile Image for Matthew S..
31 reviews1 follower
March 25, 2018
Great read on internal selling. Shell and Moussa take a very dense subject and boil down actionable principles to take into your career. The self inventories are helpful and the illustrations are memorable.
Profile Image for Greg Bae.
50 reviews9 followers
November 10, 2019
Woo: winning other people over through relationship based persuasion. Entertaining read on how to get people’s attention, pitch your ideas, secure commitments, obtain approvals. Relevant for work via influence vs coercion.
September 12, 2022
dnf: seems to be fitting anecdotal situations to their theory and method, in hindsight. i.e. person X did this in a situation, see, that was or wasn't woo... maybe later in book there is better cause/effect relationships w/ woo. not interested in seeing
70 reviews2 followers
June 13, 2017
A good read and guide on "winning over others" that provides both background of public figure examples and how-to points
Profile Image for Jaime.
74 reviews1 follower
January 30, 2019
A book of mostly anecdotes, it provides next to no guidance on how to apply the strategies used in the examples. But the stories were not awful, so it got a second star.
Profile Image for Matthew.
86 reviews
August 27, 2020
Lots of good information on how to sell your ideas. It took me awhile to get through.
Profile Image for Harriett Edmonds.
83 reviews3 followers
October 11, 2020
Great book for anyone wanting to learn how to better relate your ideas and sway others to your side.
Profile Image for Robert.
187 reviews67 followers
August 22, 2008

In their book, Shell and Moussa develop in a modern context many of Aristotle’s ideas about principled as well as effective persuasion. The objective of Woo is to win others over to mutual advantage. That is, Woo “is relationship-based persuasion, a strategic process for getting people’s attention, pitching your ideas, and obtaining approval for your plans and projects. It is, in short, one of the most important skills in the repertoire of any entrepreneur, employee, or professional manager whose work requires them to rely on influence and persuasion rather than coercion and force.” Shell and Moussa recommend a four-step process to achieve influence goals and then thoroughly explain how to complete each. More specifically,

First, survey the given situation by forging and polishing the idea, map the decision process by understanding the social networks within the organization, determining which persuasion style will be most effective, and summoning whatever passion and conviction may be necessary to achieve the desired objective. Next, confront the given barriers that may include negative relationships, poor credibility, communication mismatches, contrary belief systems, and conflicting interests. Shell and Moussa offer eminently practical advice on how to transform barriers into assets that can be leveraged. Then make the pitch by presenting solid evidence and arguments as well as using various devices to give the proposed ideas and/or course of action a personal touch. Finally, secure the commitments by dealing effectively with politics at both the individual level and throughout the organization. (Chapter 9)

Where to start? Shell and Moussa identify “the six main channels of persuasion that provide the conduits for most idea-selling messages” (each explained in detail, Pages 32-40) and suggest that their reader complete a self-diagnostic (provided in Appendix A) to determine which of the channels would be most appropriate. In Figure 2.1, Shell and Moussa provide a grid within which they suggest that there are five primary persuasion styles and a range of Volume” at which the message is delivered as well as orientation that is either focused on self or on others: the Driver (e.g. Andy Grove), the Commander (e.g. J.P. Morgan), the Promoter (Andrew Carnegie), the Chess Player (e.g. John D. Rockefeller), and the Advocate (e.g. Sam Walton). The challenge when preparing to persuade others is to formulate a presentation that is most appropriate to one’s personal style (i.e. authentic because character and purpose “matter most”) but also, and just as important, one that is appropriate to both the given objectives (e.g. explain and/or convince) and the given audience. Only then can the appropriate channel be selected.
11 reviews3 followers
December 15, 2010
First understand myself of my style and tendency on the channels that I use most.

Then, check through the four steps, see if I have handle the barriers well and work
out the whole program carefully and innovative enough.

Persuasion is tough job. Character plays a critical role in this game.

This book is intersting, it apply story telling skills, inteact to therories and psychology and careful selected examples to "persuade" readers that this Art of Woo workbook is excellent and the framework it
introduce to us works well.

I like this book, its fun to read those story with its easy plan English. Also, it covered the political aspect on any persuasion and mark the difference between negiotation and persuasion too. And the three appendix are simple tools for immediate application.

It is a book for those who need to do a sales function. No matter you are a salesman or a doctor, or a senior management, you got to sell your ideas. People used to think that if you got relationship, you got your selling half done. Now, the book put it in more details: check your relationship see if it is rapport, reciporical or thrustworth. Yes, level of relationship.

A book that is well written, thanks
620 reviews44 followers
March 9, 2009
A smart guide to the art and science of persuasion

Salespeople market products and services. Successful people within organizations market ideas. Can you market yours? In this smart, well-sourced book, G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa show you how to sell your concepts to your colleagues and clients. They detail six primary “influence channels” and five “persuasion roles.” They also outline the four components of an effective persuasion. If you want to promote your ideas, getAbstract suggests following their savvy, sensible, step-by-step approach, laced with expertise, erudition, knowledge and wisdom. This book features an added bonus: scores of colorful real-life anecdotes that support the authors’ primary points. These include a vignette about how lawyers in ancient Rome hired professional “wailers” to weep in court about their clients’ injuries, and a story about the way Nelson Mandela used his wits to win concessions for himself and his fellow prisoners. Shell and Moussa teach you how to use a potent mixture of art and science to become a master persuader.
Profile Image for Chris.
163 reviews6 followers
February 26, 2008
It's been way too long since I have finished a book, and I didn't think it would be this one. But a friend of mine gave it to me, and I thought it might help with my persuasive abilities...or at least to understand them. I'm not usually one for self-help-style books, and less so for business books. Now I know why.

In fairness, the book did give name to certain methods of persuasion that we all see but fail to recognize. And it did help me discover how to get people to sign onto longer-term projects (like, I don't know, publishing a book?). But in the end, however helpful, it's not a book that's a real page-turner. It's incredibly dry in parts. It succeeds best when it tells the stories of real people doing well or doing poorly.

I must say, though, the last chapter on character was a good note in which to finish...and a little surprising too.
Profile Image for Stephen Simpson.
637 reviews9 followers
March 2, 2014
A solid review of negotiation techniques and approaches, particularly for the planning phase leading up to negotiations. Unlike many books on negotiation that try to identify the "one best way" and force readers to adopt only that one approach, this book urges readers to identify their own favored style/approach and learn to maximize the effectiveness of that approach (as well as identify and work around the drawbacks it may have). The step-by-step approach outlined in the book is a little too simplistic for real world situations, but it provides a good foundation for how to approach negotiations or persuasive situations.
Profile Image for Sue.
193 reviews
Want to read
March 6, 2008
Recommended from New Renaissance book store. The authors of this book come from the Wharton School to teach us how persuasion doesn't have to be manipulative or about defeating someone. It's about seeing it from all angles, analyzing and adapting your communication style, doing your homework, attaining credibility, growing relationships, and getting specific about what you are asking for. Enthusiasm only gets your so far--learn how to be a strategic and effective in creating change.
233 reviews14 followers
May 3, 2013
A decent, high-level look at negotiation. Examples were sometimes too lofty and/or legendary to be easy for the common folk to identify with. The book is aimed, it felt, at middle managers rather than entry-level people, but for someone who wants a sense of what to expect when trying to get ideas across in the corporate world, this is a good primer. It's a practical and amoral (but not immoral, and also very ethical) look at getting your goals accomplished in corporate America.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews

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