The Art of Influence

We were all born to sell. We come out of the womb with an ability to influence. Granted, high-pitched cries are not the most sophisticated tactic to get your way, but it is incredibly effective if your goal is a bottle or a diaper change. Kids are natural salespeople— when was the last time your 4th grader took the first “no” as the final one? Their ability to reshape the argument and repeatedly ask for the order is maddening. . . . and impressive.

At some point, this natural salesmanship goes away or becomes scary. I hear people all the time say “I’m not a salesperson” or “I hate sales” or “I’m no good at selling.” The facts are that the ability to sell is a learned skill that anyone can develop. We are constantly selling; it just may not be about getting someone to buy a product or service. A political debate with a friend, a conversation with your wife on where to go for dinner (even though you know you’ll go where she wants), the negotiation with your child over emptying the wastebaskets and a cone at Ben and Jerry’s— these are all sales situations.

Selling is about connection, rapport, building trust and relationships. Is it important to have a product or service that can solve a client's problem or address an issue? Absolutely. . . . but your ability to communicate how your product or service solves that problem ultimately determines success. Your success in sales relates directly to your ability to influence.

We all have the ability to influence others; we just have different ways of doing it. How do you influence? Do you use charm, passion, openness, and excitement? Do you focus on data, facts, and numbers? Perhaps you drive to the bottom-line benefits? Maybe you appeal to the ease and comfort, the reliability and proven record or your solution?

More importantly, how do you recognize what others want? Effective communication, establishing rapport and trust, building relationships—influencing— is about relating your ideas to other people the way THEY like to hear it, not the way you like to hear it. If you are passionate and energetic and speak about something passionately and energetically to a person focused on the bottom line, you missed the mark. If you drive to specs and numbers when the person simply wants to hear about others’ experiences, you missed an opportunity.

We increase our ability to influence, to effectively communicate, to build relationships (and yes, to sell!), by adapting to others. The first step in adapting is to recognize your natural style of influence— based on the DISC profile. How do you learn your style? Take this two-question quiz (what we call a 30-second DISC assessment). We'll follow up with a synopsis of your profile, share some tools you can use, and introduce an opportunity to go deeper on your unique DISC profile and learn how to influence those around you.

So. . . . what's your style? Take the two-questions quiz to find out.

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