Becoming The Chief Influencer

In sales, you can use any word or series of words to describe what it takes to get a commitment and close the sale. Personally, I believe it all circles back to influence. In some people’s minds, the word “influence” stirs up negative thoughts, as does the word “control,” but I’m not sure why.

As a manager or leader you must become the chief influencer if you expect your sales team to influence their customers. There are many theories about how to accomplish this. For some, fear is the great motivator, others take the “inmates running the asylum” approach.

There are three qualities of an influencer:

  1. Motivates others to change.
  2. Replaces bad behaviors with new skills.
  3. Makes things happen.

How many of those qualities I listed do you possess? How did you ascend to your leadership role and what new skills have you learned along the way? Most big problems succumb to changes in just a few behaviors, and the key to unlocking your team’s potential can be found in a few easy-to-reach areas. Just remember what the late Steve Jobs once said: “You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to allow people to become their best.”

Make Change Inevitable: We spend so much time in our own bubble that we miss the millions of things going on around us. Sometimes you just have to stick out your head like a periscope and see what’s new. I’m always amazed when I reach out to clients I know to get them to attend my live seminars. They always tell me they don’t need another workshop on process improvement, yet I know them well enough to know that they do. My question to them is: What happens when you wake up one day and the game has completely changed?

Sources of Influence: The key to motivation is to identify what influences an individual. It could be the people that rely on them, or their own competitive spirit.

Let’s take a look at four key sources of influence:

  1. Personal Motivation: The job is monotonous and can easily lead to burnout. It’s easy to go down that path, but you must resist. You’ve got people counting on you, looking up to you and feeding off your energy. Speed of the leader, speed of the team, right? To avoid falling into a funk, try reading a book, attending a seminar or team-building event, or listening to a motivational audio book. The one thing I know for sure is that all the elements we need to succeed have already been written about and are readily accessible.
  2. Personal Ability: Have you ever heard the saying, “Much of will is skill”? Many times we mistakenly attribute someone’s success to being “in the zone” or just sheer determination or willpower. The reality is that success is the magnification of the skills that individual already possesses. I don’t care how much willpower I have, I’m not beating Kobe Bryant in a game of H-O-R-S-E. To get more out of your time, try doing things in intervals. This will help you stay focused, while also breaking the mastery of new skills into mini goals that are attainable.
  3. Social Motivation: Start a LinkedIn page and connect with those on a forward trajectory. Find a mentor and expand your social footprint. It’s amazing how motivated you can become when you are around successful people.
  4. Structural Motivation: Engage your team with an approach that speaks to their need to be compensated and recognized. So, bring back the salesperson of the month award, those team dinners and other events. Heck, try asking about a team member’s kids once in a while. One of my go-to analogies involves the safety routine flight attendants run through before every takeoff. When they get to the part about the oxygen mask, they always instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. There is no greater analogy for leading your team to victory. Your team shouldn’t have sharper skills than you, because you should be learning and then passing those skills down — not recycling things you learned 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

Competition is fierce and the nimble, skilled, up-to-date team leaders have a huge opportunity to increase market share and then retain those customers for years to come.

So get to work.