Influence relies on strong human-to-human relationships. And the more humans involved, the greater your chances of success.
Good news: the world is a small place
We usually talk about influence as being built on one-to-one relationships. The more you understand about a person or organisation, the better equipped you are to exert positive influence through your interactions with them.
Consider this: we’ve all bumped into people in unexpected places or found that we share a mutual friend or acquaintance with someone we’ve just met. So, given the number of people in your enterprise and the number of people in your target organisation, how many connections could there already be between them, waiting to be discovered?
The last thing you want to do is casually discover those connections too late in the process. To avoid that “If only I’d known” moment that could haunt you for years to come. Investing some time in basic research can pay dividends, turning a cold call into warmer introduction, or avoiding that heart-sinking ‘own goal’ moment during a meeting when a client tells you something about your business that you didn’t know – maybe even contradicting what you’ve just told them (it happens more often than you think).
To cut a classic Donald Rumsfeld quotation short, you don’t know what you don’t know. Or in this case, who you or your colleagues know.
Recruit team members at every level
If you’re working on growing an existing account, look for the people within your enterprise who already have regular contact with your client. Not just in meetings, but in day-to-day interactions, too. Aaron from accounts, maybe, and Tracy and her team in tech support. Then there’s Sam in client services, and Jem who looks after the team that deals with their customer enquiries. And these are just the people you know about or can guess at. Add in your international teams, and other divisions (distribution, financial services, manufacturing), identify these connected people, and reach out to get them on your side.
Many of those already involved in delivering services and support on an ongoing basis will already have high credibility with the client organisation – they’ve demonstrated their expertise, dynamism and trustworthiness. Feedback filters up, and these are the people who could be having the most impact on your client’s perceptions. You can be sure your contact will have asked around: “What do we know about enterprise X, what are they like to work with?
So, while you’re focusing on influencing a decision-maker, it makes sense to know – and influence – what else they may be hearing from within their own business about interactions with your company.
And when it comes to new prospects, of the hundreds or thousands of people within your organisation, are there any who happen to have worked for – or with – people in their organisation in the past? Have ex-colleagues who worked there? Are related to (or even in a relationship with) someone who works there? Knows them from the local pub, school or rugby club? You need to know.
Establish and share the common goal
Winning teams know what their strategy is in advance. When you share your goal and your message with others in your influence team, they can see what needs to be done to achieve that goal, and how and where they can contribute to the team effort. That includes sharing information (especially anything that’s ‘in their head’) which, when compared between different people and divisions, can sometimes be contradictory. Better to know now and establish which is the correct version, and establish a common language and understanding.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
Advance knowledge gives you increased insight and creates opportunities for improving influence. Your organisation will have tools you can harness, such as CRM. You can use LinkedIn, and Sales Navigator. And you can ask around.
Influence is something everyone can play a part in. And together, you can play to win.
Find out more about creating a winning influence strategy
I’ve talked about what you need to do and why.
If you’d like to find out more about the ‘how’, and how your enterprise can build positive influence campaigns and foster an influence culture to grow sales and demand, please get in touch on email@example.com.