Influence. If you want to be your dream client’s trusted advisor, you want to influence them. You want people to believe that you are someone worth following, someone worth trusting, someone worth doing business with because of who you are.
Think about the people who have been influential in your life. These people were honest and they acted with integrity (they walked their talk). They had character. And they truly cared about you as a person. This is why you count them among the few that influenced you.
Persuasion. Persuasion is something a little less than influence. It means that you have to argue your case, advise, or urge someone to take action. To be sure, someone with influence may have to use persuasion.
Think about the last time someone persuaded you to something. It’s likely that they were someone with influence. But maybe not someone with so much influence that you would unquestioningly follow their lead.
Coercion. Coercion is the use of force or intimidation to get someone to comply with your wishes. It includes the idea of manipulating someone. It indicates an imbalance in power. All force isn’t necessarily physical; force is more often psychological.
If you were ever coerced, you didn’t like it. You are never happy being coerced to something. Hopefully, you don’t have a recent memory of being coerced to do something.
When you look at the old school tactics that salespeople used, they are closer to coercion than they are to influence. They are no longer effective or useful to professional salespeople. Tactical stuff like “tie downs” might still work, but the price of destroying relationships to win a transaction isn’t a good strategy for anyone who plays a long game; making people feel bad about their decision and bad about you isn’t ever a good idea.
Be a Person of Influence
You want to be a person of influence. You want to be someone of character. The more influence you have, the less you have to persuade.
If you are in sales, you are going to have to persuade your dream clients to take action. You are going to have to persuade them to see things through a new perceptual lens, to change their beliefs about what it possible, and to agree to change. You won’t always have enough influence to help people without having to persuade them.
If you are going to be a trusted advisor (or what I call a Level 4 Value Creator), you can never use coercion. You can never be manipulative. Force is the strategy chosen by people who don’t want to do the work of becoming a person of influence or learning to use persuasion.
What are you doing to become a person of influence?