Last was my first live speaking engagement in five months (a sales training). It had five people and lasted almost seven hours. And, while I love me some Zoom, it was SO good to be back in front of living, breathing, three-dimensional human beings!
We capped our day talking about persuasion and influence. Regardless of whether “sales” is listed in your title or job description, I’ve never met someone that wouldn’t like to be more influential with the people around them: customers, company, team, etc.
(influence does not mean manipulation, by the way. It simply means effectively communicating with others, perhaps prompting an action or behavior change)
One of the primary ways to gain influence? Be an authority.
On a psychological level, anytime we are confused, undecided or uncertain, we will be persuaded by people we deem to be authorities.
Okey dokey, Scott, that sounds wonderful. But how in the heck do I become an authority?
Newsflash–you probably already are one.
In yesterday’s case, I asked the three main salespeople, all of whom talked openly about not always being listened to by customers, the following question:
“How many years of experience do you have in this industry.”
Their answers were 15, 22 and 23.
“So, in these 60 combined years of industry experience, how many thousands of hours have you spent doing what you’re doing? If you’re not an authority, who is?”
Afterwards, when we’re discussing actions plans and what was most impactful, the salespeople all commented on this point. They said they’d never thought about it in this way.
It’s natural to go through periods where we doubt ourselves and discredit what we’ve done. It’s no different than the question I’d ask to a slumping athlete (“How many thousands of hours have you spent practicing?”)…
Psychologists call this the “Confidence-Competence Loop.” It goes round and round, but a large part of our confidence should come from our competence (i.e., our knowledge and experience). Every now and then, we just need to be reminded of it. Me included.
Two more quick adds:
1. Authority is not showing up, puffing out your chest, telling everyone that you’re the authority. I’ve always believed if you have to SAY you’re an authority, you’re probably not one (part of the reason I never call myself an “expert”).
Being a true authority comes from showing up with the quiet confidence that this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve been there; done that. And if someone wants to know how long you’ve been doing it, tell them. You’ve earned the reps. Otherwise, let your body language and non-verbals communicate your authority. With it, you’ll gain influence.
2. What if you’re doing something new and you don’t have 15+ years experience from which to gain confidence?
All the best and keep Outperforming,