The tenth foundational attribute for salespeople is Influence.
What Is Influence?
Influence is the ability to persuade others to act differently, to behave differently, or to believe something.
The influence and ability to persuade I am writing about here is not about the tactics that enable influence. It’s not about Cialdini’s six principles of influence: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.
It also has nothing to do with tricks or gimmicks.
It has nothing to with the language choices that we make in sales, even though language choices are worth thinking about and do enable influence.
The influence I am writing about here is the ability to be someone worth listening to, someone worth being influenced by.
Influence in Sales
Great salespeople have an enormous capacity to influence and persuade others. But it isn’t a tactical influence. Their ability to influence others is the natural outgrowth of the other foundational attributes.
Great salespeople are able to influence others because they are first able to influence and persuade themselves. Someone who is unable or unwilling to keep the commitments they make to themselves doesn’t easily persuade others. Influencing others begins with keeping your commitments.
Great salespeople are optimistic, and optimism enables their ability to influence others that a better future is not only possible, but that it is certain. It enables the creation of a vision.
Great salespeople influence others by demonstrating their competitiveness, and by translating that desire to win into a demonstration of their commitment to help their customers win by achieving a positive outcome.
Great salespeople influence others by taking the initiative, by acting proactively. This professionalism is influential, as it demonstrates an ability to own the outcome they sell.
Great salespeople influence others with their resourcefulness. They use their creativity, their imagination, and their networks to solve problems and to build solutions that create results, create positive outcomes, and create value. Their ability to find a way where none previously existed makes them influential.
Great salespeople influence others with their indomitable spirit, their determination and their willingness to persevere. They can be counted on to continue to try.
Great salespeople are influential because they care about their prospects, their clients, and their own team members. The act of caring creates trust; trust is the foundation of influence.
The build their influence by communicating that they understand how others feel, exercising their empathy. They exercise their emotional intelligence by communicating in a way that considers the emotional feelings of others, including their prospects, their clients, and their own team members.
Great salespeople identify the outcomes they can produce to create value for their prospects, their clients, and their own companies by listening first. One of the keys to their influence is in their ability to listen to others, ensuring that the person to whom they are listening knows that what they are communicating is being heard.
Great salespeople influence others by their ability to ask effective questions. They ask questions that demonstrate their ability to understand the challenges, the problems, and the opportunities. The nature of these questions demonstrates that they have the expertise to be trusted, as well as their desire to truly understand.
These are the attributes that build influence.
When Influence is Missing
When salespeople lack the ability to influence, they lose deals.
Without self-discipline, the salesperson loses the credibility on which trust and influence are built.
Without optimism, the ability to help create a vision of a better future is also missing. Pessimism is only good for commiserating, not influencing or persuading.
Without competitiveness, the ability to persuade others that you will do what is necessary to win for them cannot exist.
Without initiative, the ability to influence others that you will act proactively to create value cannot exist. Your prospects are not responsible for your management.
Without resourcefulness, you lack the ability to generate the new possibilities that influence others to follow you.
Without determination, your prospects will not believe you will be there for them when the road is difficult, destroying your ability to persuade.
Without caring, empathy, and emotional intelligence, your attempts to influence will appear selfish and self-centered, making you someone to be avoided.
Without communication skills, you will not listen well enough to understand how to influence others, and your ideas will be dismissed as easily as you dismissed those that you ignored.
There is no path to success in sales without the ability influence. There is no path to influence with the foundational attributes that build influence.
Influence isn’t tactical. Influence is the sum of all of the foundational attributes that make you someone worth listening to in the first place. The best salespeople possess the ability to influence and persuade others, because they are people who create trust. That trust builds relationships and it helps build results. These are the keys to influence.
1. By improving which of the underlying foundational attributes would I best improve my influence?
2. Do I rely on the tactics of influence as a substitute for real influence?
3. Do I look for tricks and gimmicks instead of working on developing true influence?
4. Are my language choices congruent with who I am as a salesperson?
For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4279.
Read my monthly post on Sales Bloggers Union.