Are you wishing to be persuasive and have influence? Would it be easier to shock people into submission?

Influence is the “power to sway or affect.”

Who has this power? How do we get this power? Is it just about having authority, wealth, or status? Or is there more…?

It’s not about the answers; it’s about asking the right questions. What’s it going to take? What does the individual or group need to hear or experience to shift their position, act, or move toward your goal? In other words, how do you sell them on the idea, the action, the concept, or the whole enchilada?

Only by understanding their true motivations, their trigger points for pain and relief, will you be able to assist them in helping to solve their problems and/or bring relief. The question to ask is: What will it take for someone to have “buy-in” about what you are considering or wanting to change, shift, or impact?

As a leader with direct authority, you can bully them into submission. Yet, even if they are saying yes to you, they may consciously or unconsciously sabotage your efforts. What if you are put into a position of leadership with no direct authority? Would this be an exercise in futility or an opportunity to “first seek to understand” before you are understood? It has to first be defined in their eyes as a problem before a solution or an action can be considered.

The military forces train their officers and soldiers to prepare ahead and plan for contingencies. Then why do the rest of us continue to use the shotgun approach?

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

To seek to first understand, we must accept that every individual views the world differently. All of our thoughts are filtered through different glass forms or spectacles. According to Seth Godin, “What’s true is this:  everyone looks at the world with a different lens.”

Each person will interpret the world, or his or her corner of the world, from this worldview or lens. If you are trying to persuade or influence someone or a group, the first thing is to try to step into their shoes and begin to understand their perceptions, or the way they see the world. Perceptions influence our decisions, our approach to solve problems, and ultimately, our actions.

So, I recommend the following simulation to start your task of understanding.

  1. Do you have enough information?
  2. If not, your first priority is to discover the individual(s)’ needs and motivators. It isn’t about what they tell you. It’s about what they are not telling you. With direct questioning and probing you can uncover the real issues that may impact your level of persuasion.
  3. The most important question to answer before making your pitch is: what is it going to take for them to shift or change or take the action that you are recommending? (In sales terms, how do you close them? To try your product or service? To take action on your goal? To implement your strategy? To follow your lead?)

In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin tells the sales team, it’s about “ABC – Always Be Closing.” But before you can close a negotiation, you must admit that you are always negotiating or selling to others. You need to negotiate or persuade others for a specific result. So you find yourself negotiating: for time with your boss, visibility in the company, for your agenda, in traffic, to be heard and seen by others, with your children, your employees, your clients, your teachers, your parents, to get your needs met, etc.

Within the context of negotiating, let’s look at the last question again. What do you need to understand about what it will take to trigger a response to generate the result you are seeking? Ask yourself, what results do you want? Who will help you get those results? What’s standing in your way? What do you need to know before you can achieve these results? Who will these results impact? Who has the most to gain? Who has the most to lose?

As products of our current society, we are all bombarded with individuals and companies trying to sell us. Current estimates range from 3,000 to 5,000 marketing messages a day, which translates into roughly every 14 seconds you are subjected to being sold. For every single individual there are too many choices and not enough clarity.

Being persuasive and having influence to get targeted results is about first having clarity. Who are you trying to persuade or influence? Do you have clarity about their situation as it relates to what you are proposing or what you are trying to negotiate? Have you asked the right questions to step into their shoes and gain clarity? Is your proposal or recommendation the right one for them? If not, do you have the integrity to admit it or do you still try to push your agenda?

Remember, when someone persuades you or has influenced your decision, you have been sold. You ‘buy-in’ to what they propose, negotiate, etc.: 98% of all buying decisions are emotional. So, when you feel understood and connected emotionally the solution or action step you are about to take is aligned with your motivations and interests. You have clarity. So when it’s your turn to persuade or influence will you have the clarity to move forward from an authentic and genuine place?

Need more tips on being persuasive?

Ready to boost your influence in today’s competitive market?

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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