Not everyone sells, but good persuasive communication skills are crucial in order to work from a position of influence. Developing your communication skills with a stronger sales orientation will help you navigate your work more effectively, build better relationships and thrive during increasingly complex times.
Move past any negative stereotypes about “sales.” When most people think about “sales,” they think about a bad buying experience that usually includes an overly eager or aggressive sales representative. We tend to associate sales with manipulating people into making decisions they’re not comfortable with, when, in fact, professional selling is all about understanding another person’s needs and helping them solve problems or accelerate opportunities. When you start thinking about sales as a collaborative, problem-solving effort you expand your perspective and new opportunities to advance a relationship (whether it’s with a potential customer, your boss, or even your spouse).
Imagine being able to get anything you wanted or needed in your professional life. From landing sales and acquiring new customers to a pay rise or promotion, your power of persuasion plays a large part in what result you get. We all use persuasion in our professional lives, in varying degrees, pretty much every day. Some people are naturally persuasive, and are easily able to steer a strategy or conversation in a certain way, that suits them. Others find convincing others a little more difficult. There are a number of techniques that can be used to improve your powers or persuasion and increase your influence with your colleagues, managers, customers and contacts.
1.Focus on how you can be helpful. I call this the “service mentality.” When your goal is to convince or persuade someone, don’t focus on how you can get them to do something. Instead, focus on how you can be helpful. Think about what the other person’s goals and objectives are and how you can help get them there.
2.Provide context. Having the desire to help is the first step, but you’ll also need to give some context to demonstrate that your ideas can work. If you’re presenting a new idea to your boss, for example, come prepared with a detailed business case, competitive intelligence, research, other people’s opinions, and any other insight you can leverage.
3.Expect resistance — and plan how you’ll move past it. In any exchange of information, you should prepare to be met with resistance. I’m talking about that “NO” word. The natural reaction is to shut down. But so often resistance can be an opportunity to move the exchange to the next level of engagement. Understanding concerns, objections and barriers is critical to making forward progress. Great sellers view resistance as an opportunity to learn, understand and advance the dialogue.
4.Ask intelligent, open-ended questions. Asking good questions is one of the most important ways to communicate more successfully. When you are met with resistance, probe. Go deep enough so that you walk away from the conversation with new information and insight (instead of walking away empty-handed and frustrated). Learn more — their position, challenges, needs and areas of confusion — so that you can help them move beyond their resistance and into their comfort zone. Show up prepared with intelligent questions. Being prepared for tough conversations beats winging it every time.
5.Don’t Assume – Don’t ever assume what someone needs, always offer your value. In sales we’ll often hold back from offering our products/services because we assume others don’t have the money or interest. Don’t assume what others might want or not want, offer what you can provide and leave the choice to them.
6.Persistence Pays – The person who is willing to keep asking for what they want, and keeps demonstrating value, is ultimately the most persuasive. The way that so many historical figures have ultimately persuaded masses of people is by staying persistent in their endeavors and message. Consider Abraham Lincoln, who lost his mother, three sons, a sister, his girlfriend, failed in business and lost eight separate elections before he was elected president of the United States.
7.Learn to Transfer Energy – Some people drain us of our energy, while others infuse us with it. The most persuasive people know how to transfer their energy to others, to motivate and invigorate them. Sometimes it’s as straightforward as eye contact, physical touch, laughter, excitement in verbal responses, or even just active listening
Confidence and Certainty – There is no quality as compelling, intoxicating and attractive as certainty. It is the person who has an unbridled sense of certainty that will always be able to persuade others. If you really believe in what you do, you will always be able to persuade others to do what’s right for them, while getting what you want in return.