When we hear the word ‘influence’ these days, it is oftentimes associated with social media influencers and the reach that they have to their millions of followers. However, influence is something that is not just available to a select few. Everyone has a certain level of influence, especially to those who are around them whether it is at home, in school, or in the workplace.
According to Ian Santos, a Sales and Leadership Consultant and Mentor, we have to sell to someone one way or another, which isn’t just limited to services and products, as they can also include ideas, thoughts, positions or perspectives. Santos says that influencing skills are also life skills. To influence someone is to convince them, and for that we need influencing skills.
In an episode of Breaktime Breakthoughs on Plus Network, Santos shares a few ways for us to develop our influencing skills, starting with having a keen sense of self-awareness about who we are and what tendencies we have. We need to understand how we come across other people and whether they perceive us as approachable or bossy. People generally feel comfortable doing business with people that they are comfortable with, but for that to happen, trust needs to be established.
1. Establish trust – There are brands that we trust and constantly buy products from, and there are people in whom we feel comfortable talking and confiding. We do these because we trust these brands and people. To establish trust, we need to actively and genuinely listen with the intent to understand the needs and wants of the other person.
When people see that you genuinely pay attention, they tend to be more trusting, so it is important that we listen with the intent to understand. Another way to genuinely and actively listen to someone is to paraphrase what they are saying to check for understanding.
2. Find common ground – It is also important to find things in common with other people to develop your influencing skills. When you mirror someone, whether by gesture or actions, they will likely feel a sense of affinity with you and will be more trusting.
3. Understand negotiables and non-negotiables – Talking to other people helps us figure out their likes and dislikes as well as their negotiables and non-negotiables.
4. Tailor fit your approach – By asking the right probing questions, we can figure out and better understand a person’s position, beliefs, and principles. Once we get to know them more, we will be in a better position to approach them and try to convince or influence them.
5. Close with an agreement – Once we have developed our influencing skills, we will better understand other people and be in a better position to convince or influence them. However, it is also important to be respectful of someone’s principles, opinions, and perspectives.
Santos stresses that persuasion skills are sales skills and influencing skills are life skills. Having the skills for sales can make one a good influencer. It is also important not to be discouraged if we don’t succeed immediately, as the relationships that we build with others may bear fruit in the future at the right time and circumstance.