Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fundamentals of Influence

Derek Van Slyke, a sales coach at Jameson Publishing with 20+ years of sales experience, gave an excellent presentation titled "Fundamentals of Influence" at the Nov. 10 Erie Sales Club meeting. Here are some of the Golden Nuggets from that discussion:

It's a universal truth that to get better at any activity -- basketball, music, knitting -- you have to master the fundamentals. Influencing is what sales professionals do (or should do), and it's good to review the fundamentals of influencing to see where your strongest and where you can improve the most.

#1: Know Your Value
* Your product: You have to know your product and your competitors' products. What is the basic knowledge you need for your specific products or services? Do you have that information memorized?
* Your market and your industry: You need a conversational knowledge of the market and its players.
* Know your value to the degree you can deliver it with clarity and conviction. You can't influence without knowing your value.

#2: Probe To Understand
* The more we understand the customers' needs, the more we are able to align our value with real impact. Think about the difference between slapping someone on their stomach with an open hand, and punching them in the gut with a closed fist. The impact is quite different, right?  
* Your ability to understand your clients' needs will help or hinder your ability to influence.
* Challenge: Identify at least 10 typical questions you need to ask in order to understand your clients' needs.

#3: Deliver Value
* Anyone can recite features. To truly influence, you have to deliver value (a) with conviction, (b) aligned with their needs, (c) and personalized to the buyer.
* Believe it or not, a good role model for delivering value is the Home Shopping Network. They personalize the emotions behind the features and benefits. For example:  "... this camera has 1080p resolution (feature) which makes your pictures sharper than anything else on the market (benefit with conviction) -– and so when you’re taking pictures of your child or grandchild at the school play, dance recital, or big game, you’re going to capture those once in a lifetime memories in a way you can be proud of forever (personalized)."

#4: Close
* It’s easy for us to get caught up in how passionate we feel about our value, but the customer’s opinion is the only one that matters.
* Closing helps us reveal and confirm the real attitudes.
* Closing on points, value opportunities, and trial closing on the sale are essential parts of influence. If we don’t close along the way we are guessing. And to guess is to gamble.

#5: Listen & Respond
* Good listening requires us to hear all the words and the emotions behind them.
* Listening helps us validate how well we’re influencing. It keeps us from guessing. 
* Master influencers don't guess. They listen closely and validate attitudes before moving forward.
* Responding means taking the next appropriate step depending on the attitude you just heard. 

Action Steps You Can Take
* Review the categories listed above and grade yourself on each category on a scale of 0 to 5. If there is an opportunity to improve your influencing skills, where is it?
* Once you find that opportunity, execute simple action plans to improve. Try something, measure your results, repeat.
* Make a commitment to build your improvements into habits and there will be no stopping you!

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of three leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, and VertMarkets.


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