Influence. If you want to become your dream clients’ trusted advisor, you need to be able to influence them. You need people to believe you’re someone worth following, someone worth trusting, someone worth doing business with.
Think about the people who have been influential in your life. These people were honest and acted with integrity. They walked their talk. They had character. And they truly cared about you as a person. This is why you count them among the few individuals who had such a powerful influence over you.
Persuasion. Persuasion is something a little less than influence. It means you have to argue your case. You need to advise or urge someone to take action. To be sure, someone with influence may have to use persuasion at times.
Think about the last time someone persuaded you to do something. It’s likely he was someone with influence—but maybe not someone with so much influence that you’d unquestioningly follow his lead.
Coercion. Coercion is the use of force or intimidation to get someone to comply with your wishes. It includes the idea of manipulating someone. It indicates an imbalance in power. All force isn’t necessarily physical. With coercion, the force is psychological.
If you’ve ever been coerced into doing something, I bet you didn’t like it. People are never happy to be coerced.
When you look at the old-school tactics that salespeople use, they’re closer to coercion than influence. They’re no longer effective or useful to professional salespeople. Tactical things such as “tie downs” may still work, but destroying a relationship to win a transaction isn’t a good strategy for anyone playing the long game. Making people feel bad about their decisions and about you is never a good idea.
Be a person of influence. You want to be a person of influence. You want to be a person of character. The more influence you have, the less persuading you need to do.
If you’re in sales, you’re going to have to persuade your dream clients to take action. You are going to have to persuade them to see things through a new perceptual lens, to change their beliefs about what is possible. You won’t always have enough influence to help people without having to persuade them.
But if you are going to be a trusted advisor, you can never use coercion. You can never be manipulative. The application of psychological force is the strategy chosen by someone who doesn’t want to take the time to become a person of influence.