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Secrets of Influence: The Extra Edge for Sales

As many of us are all too painfully aware, we have had to adjust to “new normals” in all arenas of life; a noisy and unpredictable universe has accelerated the need for better Influence.

Of course, technology is transforming our very lives, but, even if we’re all connected, we’re losing our personal touch. Our interpersonal skills are becoming rusty.

Indeed, studies by the World Economic Forum and Harvard Business Review say that Influence and Social Skills will be among the top required capabilities by the year 2023 and beyond.

The Personal – Influence: What Is It? How Do You Get It?

It seems everyone’s talking about the word “influencer” these days; as in how many thousands of followers you have on social media. But is that a measure of the influence you need in your everyday business and personal life?

The dictionary defines influence as: the power to affect change, or to achieve a result, without the use of force or formal authority. This means that to be truly influencing, you must cause a change in another’s behavior, actions, attitudes or values.

Interestingly, an archaic definition of influence says that it is “a mysterious flowing of an ethereal fluid from the stars, said to have magical powers over the lives of people. Real influence may seem magical, because, like magic it requires a lot of skill and practice behind the scenes.

I’ve always been interested in the concept of influence. From my early days selling encyclopedias door to door, competing to recruit 10 new people a week in multilevel marketing companies, and being part of a team in New York advertising closing million-dollar deals, I was always interested in how to make it work. It always seemed like some people had the good contacts, the winning personalities, the golden touch.

Even when I had my successes (and there were many) and failures (a lot of those, too), I still didn’t know exactly what I did right or wrong to get those results. I wanted the process to be more strategic, less hit or miss.

Influence Styles Inventory

I analyzed the behaviors that had been most successful and created a typology of influence styles. It’s called the Influence Styles Inventory, which measures a person’s self-reported influence style preference – like a technology of influence.

No one person is any one style; We are all a mix of various styles. A style is a cluster of behaviors that one uses in a particular interaction.

Many of you have likely taken or given assessments such as the DISC, Myers Briggs or others. An important distinction is that our influence styles inventory is a measure of just those behaviors used in attempting to influence, not a general personality assessment.

While we find it fascinating to discover our influence profile across the six styles, its better use is as a prism through which to understand others’ styles – to have better “radar.” To read your influence target.

Practical Applications

Although usually these techniques are used in one-on-one interactions, they can also be effective when trying to influence a group. A while ago, I was invited by a large multinational to present my training program for consideration of inclusion in their corporate curriculum. (This was before COVID). I was asked to meet with their committee and make a 45-minute presentation. The giant RFP tome they sent me detailed their criteria, background info, etc.

When I arrived, I faced a group of seven people, seated at a panel table. I quickly had to ask myself a few questions:

  • Were these the same people who had written the RFP four months earlier?
  • What did this group want?
  • Who were the real deciders? Who deferred to whom?
  • Could I get any clues about any member’s influence style?

Making an executive decision, I took 10 minutes out of my precious 45 to warm up the room and learn a bit about “who’s on first?”

So I opened by asking them to quickly introduce themselves, and what was his/her most important factor in deciding on a program/vendor. This gave me a chance to hear them speak. Also, when one recited an important criterion, I checked to see which others nodded or agreed (usually by their body language).

When I launched into my presentation, I was able to stress benefits that matched the factors they had mentioned, and look at the person who had said them. I threw out whole sections of my talk, which no longer seemed relevant.

The result? I got the contract. And I was pleased to hear some of the comments afterward:

  • “Seemed to understand our culture.”
  • “Knew what we wanted.”
  • “Really listened to our interests.”

The Bottom Line

Using those first 10 minutes to do a little intelligence-gathering turned out to be a good investment. Instead of barreling ahead with my prepared spiel, I was able to tailor my remarks to the actual people in the room.

Take the time and effort to listen, observe and learn before any influence attempt. You’ve heard it a thousand times – but it does work.  You will increase your chances of becoming a true influencer and get the results you want.

To receive a free copy of the Influence Report go to https://www.ezinfluence.com/free-booklet/

Free Webinar

Elaina Zuker is presenting a free webinar entitled “Secrets of Influence: the Extra Edge for Sales” on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Learn more about the webinar and register to attend here.

Author

  • Elaina Zuker is president of Elaina Zuker Associates, a management training and consulting firm in Montreal. A seasoned businesswoman, educator, author and consultant, Ms. Zuker’s clients have included Fortune 500 corporations such as AT&T, American Express, IBM, Ogilvy & Mather, Bank of America, The Sheraton Corporation and Syntex Corporation.

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Elaina Zuker
Elaina Zukerhttps://www.ezinfluence.com/
Elaina Zuker is president of Elaina Zuker Associates, a management training and consulting firm in Montreal. A seasoned businesswoman, educator, author and consultant, Ms. Zuker’s clients have included Fortune 500 corporations such as AT&T, American Express, IBM, Ogilvy & Mather, Bank of America, The Sheraton Corporation and Syntex Corporation.

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