In today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, we discuss the immediate steps you can take to begin growing your influence. Whether you are in sales or not, everyone, at one time or another, needs to increase their influence.
I’m reminded of a coworker of mine who really knew how to connect with people. Tom had that ability to influence others.
He just understood people and prospects and he knew how to speak to them. He could point out potential problems before they became problems. As such, when he spoke, his clients listened. He was respected.
My guest today, Stacey Hanke, is here to talk about how we, like Tom, can grow our influence. [00:01]
Stacey and her team work with directors, to C-Suite, and with sales professionals to make them more aware of the level of influence they really have versus they level of influence they believe they have. They accomplish this with keynotes, with mentoring, and through workshops.
They increase awareness by giving practical how-to advice so their clients know how to use both verbal and non-verbal methods of influence every day of the week. [03:25]
Influence: What it is and what it isn’t
Stacey has worked with a lot of individuals and organizations over the past 16 years. And though she sees it happen quite often, Stacey believes that influence is not something that you should turn on and off.
For example, you’ve got a high stakes phone conversation, meeting or sales pitch and you decide to ‘turn it on.’
There’s nothing authentic about that. There’s no integrity to it. [04:46]
Influence is when your verbal and non-verbal communication remain consistent at all times and in all situations. It is congruent with your priorities and purposes.
Influence is having the ability to move people to take action long after the interaction has occurred.
It takes discipline and hard work. It is hard because we often get caught up with worrying about how we are perceived. Will they like me? Am I going to say the right thing?
Switch your thinking. What is important to my client? What is their experience with the topic? Why is this conversation happening?
To really drive home the value of your product or your service – whatever you’re trying to influence the person to act on – it first has to resonate with the client. [05:36]
So, be genuine.
Stacey recently helped a client to realize that he was putting more time into marketing materials and PowerPoint slides than into the actual delivery of the product. It is not the experience his clients were looking for. [06:46]
Feedback: Why you need it.
As a sales rep, one of the first steps to increase your influence is to ask for real feedback. You have to plan for it and ask for it.
Ask someone who you can count on to tell you the truth to listen to you as you practice. Ask them to listen, pay attention and give you feedback. When you can prepare in this way, the person providing the feedback is more likely to be direct and constructive with their comments.
We don’t need to be told how great we are.
We have to figure out our weaknesses in order to grow. It takes discipline to handle feedback and even more discipline to act on it. Don’t sabotage yourself by asking a subordinate or someone who is likely to tell you what you want to hear, instead of what you need to hear.
Put your pride aside. Strive for honest answers. [07:39]
Stacey has encountered many in her workshops who are hesitant to pursue feedback. She attributes this to the stigma that surrounds feedback as meaning you’ve done something wrong.
Feedback instead means that you are already doing well. You wouldn’t be in the position you are in if you didn’t know what you were doing. Feedback provides opportunity to become even better. It encourages constant growth. [09:41]
In a study conducted by Joseph Folkman of over 51,000 leaders, it was realized that leaders who frequently ask for feedback rank in the top 86% for leadership effectiveness. On the other hand, leaders who rank in the bottom 15% for leadership effectiveness are in the bottom 10% when it comes to asking for feedback. [10:20]
So how does this translate to working with a prospect?
Stacey reaches out to her clients every three or six months to find out what has been working for them during that time. She frequently asks her clients why they continue to work with her team. What keeps them coming back?
Then she flips the coin. What can her team do to make things easier? How can they provide more value on a long-term basis? This allows the client to tell you how best to upsell them by letting you know what other services they might want or need.
Your clients can disappear at any point but if you deliver the value that you promise and you truly care about your clients, then the ability to upsell based on their feedback provides a service to them. [11:31]
Being influential is not the same as being manipulative. The more you practice asking for, setting up, receiving, and dealing with feedback, the more you’ll start to crave it.
It sounds crazy but sometimes the feedback is completely different from how you felt during the conversation or how you thought you came across.
Sometimes feedback can be harsh.
But the toughest feedback often comes during periods of growth or transition. You might hate it at the time but it will help you grow. [13:42]
Get comfortable with becoming uncomfortable
Feedback can be hard to embrace if it requires a change that takes us out of our comfort zone. Make feedback common practice. You can apply it to everything in life. The more uncomfortable you get, the faster you grow.
Once you get over the hurdles, once you stop hitting your knees every time, you will start to see improvement.
Staying in our comfort zone only makes us lazy. Resting on our laurels or believing that we already know everything comes across in our performance.
When you are feeling strong and landing deals, Stacey says that is the time to feel uncomfortable. Work hard even when times aren’t tough.
Imagine going to the gym only when you want to lose weight. It isn’t going to last. It is too painful.
Instead, be consistent to get consistent results. [17:09]
Talk to your clients like you would talk to a friend. They don’t need somebody pushing a product down their throat. They want someone who is trying to meet their needs so ask how you can do that for them.
- What is the best way to communicate with them?
- How frequently do they want to hear from you?
- When can you call or email them next?
To have more influence from a personal standpoint, try seeing yourself as your audience does.
Record yourself on your phone. The level of awareness that develops from observing your own verbal and non-verbal cues can be truly eye-opening.
Everything about our behavior translates into the experience that people have with us. Influence doesn’t happen during the conversation. It happens after the fact. Focus on your thoughts. [20:26]
No eyes? No talk.
Focus your eyes on a single point and practice as if you are speaking to individuals there.
When you focus your eyes, you become focused in your thoughts. When you lose focus on the point, you will find that you also lose your train of thought.
Make every interaction purposeful.
When you are trying to connect with someone, only speak to them when you can see their eyes. Make it a meaningful conversation.
Anytime you need to look away, stop talking. It creates trust. Without trust, nothing else matters.
You save time when you stay focused and speak less. [22:30]
Many of us forget that the people we are trying to influence may not be as excited about our years of experience or about our product as we are. If you only have two or five minutes with a client, think about how to provide the greatest value in the shortest time.
Make it memorable for them. They don’t have to say ‘yes’ today but you can increase their interest today. Let them know how to reach you tomorrow. [24:31]
If you want to use social media to increase your influence, be sure to be consistent among the platforms.
Stacey cites the common problem of using cellphones to send emails, namely, that disclaimer at the bottom to ‘please forgive any grammatical errors.’ Why would you ask a potential client to do that?
Influence comes through with everything we do.
Be sure your messages are consistent. Don’t bash other companies. Remember that your tone of voice does not convey to the written word. Avoid the risk of coming across as unprofessional.
Think before you post.
Your reputation is on everything that you do. You choose the reputation that you want people to have of you. [25:28]
“Immediate Steps you can Take to Begin Growing your Influence” episode resources
Connect with Stacey and check out her available resources at staceyhankeinc.com.
This episode is brought to you in part by prospect.io, a powerful sales automation platform that allows you to build highly personalized, cold email campaigns. To learn more, go to prospect.io/tse. It will help you with your outbound to expand your outreach. It allows you to set it and forget it. Your prospecting will never ever be the same.
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