The power of influence

by | Jun 26, 2009 | Relationship Selling

Politics is a game of influence. Politicians make a commercial and hope by watching it, you will be influenced to remember them and think favorably of them. They hold a rally and you witness them speak: they seem to be good folks. They shake your hand and its personal, you’ve touched them and it would be a shame if they did not win. They speak to the crowd in the restaurant where you eat lunch; they’re ordinary folk who like the things you do. They took the time to speak to you and directly answer your question: this is now your candidate. In each circumstance the politician is a salesperson selling herself, their party, his agenda. But with each experience, you share a greater intimacy with the candidate. Your relationship grows and becomes personal. The stronger the relationship established between you and the candidate, the more likely you will close in their favor at the polling station.

This is also true in sales. We want to convince our customer’s to purchase from us and to purchase sooner rather than later. Our level of influence on the customer’s decision ‘on when to buy’ directly is proportional to the relationship you establish during the sales cycle. In most interactions during a sale, the customer brings, and controls, their feeling of urgency as to when they make their purchasing decision. How can you both win that customer and shift their sense of urgency to commit? How do you move the customer down the road to making a decision? How do you keep them committed to coming back for more? How do you gain the bonus of their recommending you and your products to their acquaintances? By building stronger relationships.

Relationships are built on three critical factors. They are: face time, follow through, and your motive. Let’s address how each of these works to move a customer to making a decision in your favor.

Its been obvious to me that the business I’ve won in the past is directly related to how much face time I had with the customer. The number of opportunities the customer allows us to meet indicates the customer’s level of interest in what we have to offer. The more meetings, the more interest – in other words, they see value in meeting us. How often have you only met the customer two or three times, and therefore, deep down, you knew your chances were a long shot? Customers accept a meeting when there is a clear purpose and value in getting together. We earn the right to meet with the customer when our message is clear and concise as to the tangible value for the customer in our products and services. For example, if we have a proven track record of how we have helped others, customers are interested. If our agenda is entirely focused on the customer’s needs and issues, they know it! It’s a very positive sign when the customer is the one to initiate the next meeting. When you use this face time wisely, the customer will come back for more.

Follow through is a huge indicator of character and credibility. Character and credibility strongly influence customer’s evaluation of whether or not you are a person with whom they want to build a relationship and engage in ongoing business. Follow through is about putting the customer’s priorities ahead of everything else, and making this obvious to them. Follow through shows the customer what they can expect when they commit to your products and services. It sets an expectation of how the relationship will evolve as it moves forward. When you start delivering results beyond the customer’s expectations you strongly capture their attention. Follow through is about being proactive on the customer’s behalf by doing what you have learned is important to them – without even asking permission. The result is customer delight and enthusiasm.

The last critical factor in building strong customer relationships is the implied communication of your motive. What is it that motivates you to close this business? Do you focus on the commission or the commitment to giving the customer what is in their best interest? If you are committed to solving the customer’s issues, first and foremost, the commission will follow. Customers are good at reading a sales person’s motives. They can see the facial expression and read your body language. How do you respond to a delay in the sales cycle or a new customer objection that needs to be addressed? The customer can tell if you are putting your own concerns before their interests. Clearly communicate that the heart of your interest is in continuing to address the customer’s needs. The result is customer commitment to you and your services.

One key aspect of your motive has to do with your personality style. Each personality style chooses a career in sales for different personal motivations:

– Blues are motivated by building a long term relationship and pleasing the customer.
– Golds are motivated to sell their company’s reputation and are driven by the financial benefits the customer will receive.
– Greens are motivated to help the customer craft the perfect solution and enjoy solving technical problems and resolving complicated issues.
– Oranges are motivated to beat the competition, win the business, and help the customer achieve the immediate benefits of the solution.

Knowing your personality style will help you emphasize what you can naturally offer in building relationships. It also can teach you when to downplay your primary characteristics and how to pull out your other character traits that the specific customer personality style likely will respond to favorably.

You must also discover the customer’s personality style to understand what engages them. Discovering your customer’s personality style is crucial to knowing just what parts of your personality to emphasize in order to positively click with the customer. It also shows what parts of yourself to downplay when engaging that color style. Each personality color is influenced by different factors:

– Blues by what a solution can do for people and productivity.
– Golds by financial returns.
– Greens by innovation and improvement.
– Oranges by improving their competitive position.

The bottom line: you will have a significant advantage when you know your customer’s personality style and what motivates them to buy.
Face time, follow through, motive: three key points to building the customer relationship and influencing their decision to buy from you. Proper understanding of personality style improves the relationship, leading to more face time and more effective follow through. To put the customer first, you must know what of yourself to emphasize. To effectively communicate the value of your products and services, and therefore get more face time, you need to know what the customer personality style values.