The Secrets of Influence

Ultimately, sales is about trying to influence another person. But a lot of us have the wrong idea about what influence really is.

Many people think it’s a matter of talking about something long enough and convincingly
enough to make others do what you want. Or maybe if I just talk louder than you, you’ll “get it” and accept that I’m right.

While this type of behavior occasionally works, it’s not the best way to influence someone. What tends to be more effective is
to appeal to prospects’ subconscious rather than conscious minds. Here are some tips for doing just that.

Use Open-Ended Questions

This will allow the other person to talk more, which is a good thing—you learn more by listening, after all. It’s also much harder to lie when someone asks you an open-ended question. And when someone is lying to us, it’s much more difficult to influence them.

Play to Personality Types

Most people fall into four broad personality types: dominant, extrovert, peacemaker and cautious. By understanding your audience
better, you can deliver a more tailored message.

The easiest way to discern prospects’ personality types is by discovering their natural pace and what they are oriented toward.

Pace has to do with slower versus faster. Orientation has to do with people versus tasks.

  • A faster-paced, task-oriented person is usually a dominant personality. Business owners and military leaders are mostly dominants.
  • A faster-paced, people-oriented person tends to be an extrovert. Salespeople, comedians and actors are often extroverts.
  • A slower-paced, people-oriented person tends to be a peacemaker. Counselors and therapists are often peacemakers.
  • A slower-paced, task-oriented person is a cautious personality. CPAs and neurosurgeons are usually cautious.

Knowing your personality type and the personality type of the person you are attempting to influence allows you to connect more quickly. Adjusting your delivery to different personality types will pay big dividends over time.

How Does Your Prospect Learn?

There are three main styles of learning: visual, auditory and feeling. Everybody uses each style to some degree, but most of us have a dominant way of learning.

Visuals talk fast because they communicate in pictures. When they think about answers to questions, they look up. They also are more likely to want to see how your product or service works through videos, pictures or brochures. They will say things like “I can’t see what you are talking about” or “Show me how that works.”

Auditory learners talk louder and slower to make sure they are articulating what they want to communicate. When they think about answers to questions, they look to the side. They need you to tell them about your product and make good eye contact with them. They will say things like “I hear you” or “That doesn’t sound right to me.”

Feeling people talk slowly and softly. They edit most everything they say because they are in tune with how their words impact those around them. When they think about answers to questions, they look down. They say things like “I just don’t feel like this will work.”

You can be more effective by matching your presentation or delivery to prospects’ primary learning style.

For example, if you use words like “see” with visual learners and “hear” with auditory people, you will give them the feeling you
“get them” and they’ll feel safer with you.

Never Answer an Unasked Question

Maybe you’ve experienced this during your own sales calls. A prospect makes a (not particularly complimentary) statement about your product or service, and you feel the need to put up a defense.

For example, after you reveal how much your product costs, the prospect says, “That seems high.” Often, salespeople will try to argue why the prospect should pay more. Or they’ll drop their price by a certain percentage, hoping that will take care of the objection.

Instead, have the prospect defend their statement. It would sound like this: “Thank you for sharing that with me. When you say high, how did you come up with that?” This will allow the prospect to defend their own statement.

The best influencers realize the importance of understanding the person they’re trying to reach. When a prospect feels that you get them, they are more likely to be truthful with you. They can relax, and together you can come up with a solution that benefits both of you.