Learn to Influence: Sell, Don’t Tell

On Saturday, I presented a program entitled “Influencing Skills for Effective Leadership.”  As usual, it was packed.  There is no program that I do that gets more attendees.

We know that influence is a key and identifiable behavior for leaders to exhibit.  And, based upon the success of the second edition of Cohen and Bradford’s Influence Without Authority (Wiley, 2005), we know that more people use influence, even when they could pull rank on someone and use power or authority.

Why is that?  Why “sell” when you could “tell?’  I teach that with influence you get commitment, not compliance.  And, when a follower is committed, you see drive, enthusiasm, quality, and even defending a particular action when someone asks why he or she is doing something.  Covey said it years ago – “without involvement, there is no commitment.”  For my money, I want people committed, not complying.  I don’t want people “getting it done,” crossing it off the list, and working to finish something without caring, desiring, and enthusiastically doing a task a right.  With influence comes commitment.

In my workshop, I teach a five-step process for selling ideas and desired actions for someone to take.  We also include a four-step process for overcoming objections.   We focus on “managing up” – how to influence a boss, or a bosses’ boss.  We also talk about how to influence support departments and members of teams who you have to count on to get a job done.  And, we work on how to influence peers and co-workers whom you need cooperation from, but who do not report to you, and who do not HAVE to do anything you want them to, no matter how good of an idea you may have.

Remember these premises:  when you do not  have power and authority, all you have available is influencing.  But, even if you do have power and authority, the better choice to use is influencing.

Everyone sells – you do not have to be a salesperson to use influence.  We all sell others our ideas, desired actions to take, and direction.

You can change your work culture around you by replacing “telling” with “selling.”  And, if you are a manager, why not have your employees engaged in “selling” instead of “asking” you.   When someone asks you, “can I,” “may I,” or “what do you think if I…,” try responding with “sell me – come back and sell me.”  Two things will happen.  First, the people who come to see you will be more prepared and use your time better.  Second, you will see fewer people!

I am happy to talk with you about this workshop, and how you can book it for your organization.  I have taught thousands of people these skills for 24 years.  You can reach me by telephone at (972) 980-0383 or by e-mail at .

Let’s talk really soon about this!

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