Selling is Influence: Nothing More, Nothing Less


Selling is essential for any successful business. Put another way, “nothing happens until someone sells something.” However, before we can sell anything, we need to understand how we can positively influence a conversation by focusing on adding significant value and building a trusting and respectful relationship with our client.

10 Traits of Influence

Much of my education on how to be a positive influence on others was revealed to me by my life long mentor, John C. Maxwell. John is a New York Times best-selling author of over 77 books, with more than 24 million volumes sold in 50 languages. In one of his best-selling books, Becoming a Person of Influence, Maxwell explains how everyone influences others. You don’t have to be in a high-profile occupation to be an influencer; whenever your life connects with another person, you exert influence. Everything you do—at home, work or play—has an impact on the lives around you.

No matter what your goals are in life, you can achieve them faster and more effectively, plus ensure the longevity of your contribution, if you learn to develop your influence. You can develop your influence with the following 10 traits.

1. Integrity

Integrity allows others to trust you. When you earn trust, people respect your motives instead of suspecting them. Consequently, trust gives you enhanced opportunity to influence and add value to your life and the lives of others.

2. Nurturing

If you look around, you will discover that the people in your life are hungry—for encouragement, recognition, security and hope. The process of feeding these basic human needs is called nurturing. Influencers nurture others, not to make people dependent on their leadership but to free them to reach their potential.

3. Faith

Your goal as an influencer is not to get others to think more highly of you. Rather, your duty as a leader is to get people to think more highly of themselves. Rarely do external difficulties defeat people; usually a lack of self-esteem holds them back.

4. Listening

Be impressed and interested, not impressive and interesting. If you consistently listen to others, valuing them and what they have to offer, they are likely to develop a strong loyalty to you, even when your authority with them is unofficial or informal.

5. Understanding

Most people do not look beyond their own experience when dealing with others. They tend to see events through the grid of their position, background or circumstances. Their narrow vision of life alienates others and hinders relationships.

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6. Encouragement

Most people want to get ahead, but they are reluctant to change. They are willing to grow only enough to accommodate their problems; instead, they need to stretch until they reach their full potential. On their own, most people stop short of achieving their best. They need someone to walk alongside them in order for their dreams to translate into reality.

7. Navigation

People need assistance as they work through life’s difficulties. When the storms hit, they need guidance until they can travel under their own power. You need to help them find their path, avoid pitfalls and stay on course. At times, this means walking beside them on the journey until they can navigate on their own.

8. Connection

Many leaders believe that it is the follower’s responsibility to initiate contact with them, but the reverse is true. To be effective, you must initiate connections. Unless you meet people where they are, no progress will be made.

9. Empowerment

When you empower people, you share yourself—your influence, position and wisdom—so that they can function at their best. Empowering means entrusting power to others. The act of empowering increases the stature of others without decreasing your own authority.

10. Replication

Any time you influence people who either do not or cannot exercise influence with others, you limit the extent of your leadership. However, when you influence leaders, you are not influencing only them; you are indirectly influencing all of the people they influence as well. The effect is multiplied.

The Four Sales

I have spent the majority of my career in sales, marketing and business development. There are many lessons I have learned over the years from doing things well and not so well and learning from those mistakes. However, one of the greatest lessons I have learned in sales is from another great mentor in my life, Ed DeCosta. He is one of the most engaging executive coaches and thought leaders of our time, and he always talks how there are four sales in every sale, and the first is the most important of all.

Now, before you tune out and think, “Well, I’m not in sales, this is not relevant to me,” let me say that you are in sales. I don’t care what it is you do. All of these principles I am about to cover are applicable to you, whether you are in an official sales profession, or you are a husband, a wife or a teenager who wants to borrow the car on Friday night. If you want to ask someone out for a date, you are in sales. If you are a human being who knows other human beings, you are in sales.

If people don't buy you, they are not buying anything from you..."

1. You “buy” you.

This is not about the buyer buying. It is about what you have to buy as the seller. The first (and most important) sale in any sale is that you, the seller, have to buy you. You have to buy yourself. You must have confidence. You have to know your own integrity, your values, your sense of purpose and that you are made for this. You must know that you are going to walk the talk and deliver the way you promise to deliver. Ultimately, when you are confident, there is something called “confidence transference.” Confidence transference is when the confidence you have in yourself gets transferred consciously or subconsciously to the potential buyer. Essentially, they borrow your confidence in you, to have confidence in you.

There is also another link, if that wasn’t enough. It is the bridge between confidence and competence. Your confidence in yourself and in the message you deliver gets translated into the potential customer’s perception of your competence. Your confidence becomes their sense of your competence. Let me just put a fine point on it. If you don’t buy you, how can you reasonably expect anyone else to buy you?

2. The prospective customer “buys” you.

It doesn’t matter what it is you are selling, whether it is a product or a service you or someone else provides, the person who is the potential buyer buys you first.

If people don’t buy you, they are not buying anything from you. So why do people buy you? They come to believe in your capability and your integrity. In other words, they feel they know, like and trust you enough to do business with you. Going just a little bit deeper, why do people feel like they know, like and trust you?

In most cases, it is because they get a sense that you know, like and trust them. It is a reciprocal kind of a feeling. Consequently, you must be intentional about conveying to someone you do business with that you know who they are, at least enough to do business with them, that you do like them and that you trust them. You must be able to trust them enough to be transparent and honest with them. That is the number two sale.

3. The prospective customer “buys” the idea.

The prospective customer buys the picture you are painting of a desired future state—the solution to the problem—whether they knew they had the problem or not. In any case, they buy the picture you paint of their future state that is a desired state as opposed to their current state. They like the idea you visualize. When they picture it, they feel it and it feels right, you have made sale number three.

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4. The transaction or deal is complete.

The prospect or potential customer buys what you are selling. They buy your product, service, idea or suggestion. The consummation of the transaction is what most people think of when they say you “made the sale,” but this is actually the fourth sale. After the deal is done, the relationship really begins, becoming deeper and closer than before. You are now in a partnership to meet your new customer’s objective, together.

Be Trustworthy

It is always important to remember that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care, and people prefer to only buy from people they know, like and trust.

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Mark Wuttke is president and COO of BABOR Americas, a family-owned world leader in luxury professional skin care. He is also a certified coach, mentor, speaker and trainer with the John Maxwell Team. Reach him at [email protected].

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