'Art of Influence' – in sales situations!


Sales success has always rested on the ‘Art of Influence’ of the seller. To develop influencing skills is easier said than done; influence plays a major role – in negotiation or any other contributing attribute to effective sales – against ‘successful’ purchasing methods engaged by the buyer. In fact, the role of the ‘buyer’ is also becoming increasingly or equally important in most learning organisations. And, there are on-going ‘purchase skills’ training conducted on regular basis.

People who, despite their good intentions, fail to connect emotionally with their audience fall at the bottom of the influence competence hierarchy. Yes, they may mean well but they lack the means to get their message across. Over a period of time, the sales presentation techniques, in view of advancing technology, are beginning to play a significant role. But, the audience has to be emotionally engaged – and, power point presentations, dry litany of facts and figures cannot displace ’emotional engagement’.Actually, let us always remember, we are dealing with human beings and not machines while attempting to sell. The seller should be able to read accurately whether the deal is going to be ON or not. If his sales presentation is falling on deaf ears of a confused, an indifferent or a reluctant audience – then the whole exercise gets wasted.

No matter how intellectually brilliant we may be, that brilliance will fail to shine if we are not persuasive in our communication. This is particularly true while selling new concepts, high value capital equipment or non-essentials in a fast growing market. Getting ‘sustained’ attention of the audience is critical in a highly competitive market that are loaded with multiple choices to chose from for the buyer. Even, in today’s time, persuasion remains the hallmark of successful methods deployed to complete sales. Many times, resistance to buy is due to lack of explanation by the seller in sales situations.

If I have to list down the weakness in the ability to persuade, they are:

1. failure to get agreement of the buyer or form a coalition on the subject – say, not convincing enough! It is better to list down – what is working and what is not – to reach a common ground.

2. relying too much on familiar sales strategy – every buyer needs different ‘sales pitch’ from the seller as the situation is not the same every time. At, Epson India, I used different selling styles while building ‘new up-country markets’ since the markets spread across were varied in their needs.

3. not taking note of feedback of the buyer, but being bull-headed in sales promotional skills. Always, it is better to keep a ‘way out’ of the tricky negotiations!

4. buyer feels ignored – in such situations, seller is failing to ‘connect’ or failing to communicate. This is primarily due to not adopting Win-Win communication skills.

5. failing to be sincere thereby not earning the trust of the buyer. It is advisable not to make tall commitments in order to close the sale.

Sales as a profession is not only mechanical, as generally assumed; it requires ‘thinking on the feet’! It is an intelligent profession calling for special skill sets, knowledge of the product and the sales situation simultaneously, innate ability to engage in Win-Win communication, intuition, anticipation, integrity and ability to work smartly – to name a few.


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