To Be More Influential, Answer This Question First

Influence is something that we all want (and need) – especially in business.

Influence makes you be a better leader, helps you team up with investors and customers, and gives you an authentic voice in your marketing.

Influence is a skill that every entrepreneur should master.

And yet, there is one major mistake most people make when they want to be influential: people worry too much about what they should say.

I know. This sounds counterintuitive, but read on and you’ll find out why your persuasive efforts haven’t been working as well as you’d like.

Yes, what you say and how you say it is a component of influence, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Meaning, what someone says is usually what most people attribute to influence because that’s the only part of the process that they see and hear.  The real process of being influential is knowing how to figure out what to say for each person or group you speak to.

After interviewing the world’s best influencers – including CIA field operatives, hostage negotiators, con-artists, and more – their first concern is never, “What should I say?”

Instead, their first question is always, “What do I need to know?”

When you need to deliver a speech, pitch investors, or sit down for a sales meeting if you are asking yourself, “What should I say?” you have sabotaged your efforts before they even started, and without realizing it.

When you start with that question, you direct your mind’s focus to YOU. Your mind turns inward to find the answer. That is how you trigger all of your anxiety and stress. Your mind is judging your thoughts and words through your own worries and insecurities. Then, it measures them up to what your prospect might think – which is a complete unknown.

You can bypass so much of your influential stress by first answering the question, “What do I need to know?”

When you ask this, your mind turns outward and now focuses on the person you want to influence. 
Rather than self-judging, you are now in a curious frame of mind. Curiosity cancels out judgment. Now you are free to explore options and possibilities.

All of your influential intel lies within the person you want to influence, not within yourself.

So, what exactly DO you need to know?

Master influencers are always looking for persuasive trigger points in the people they want to compel and convince. Figure out what is important to them. What do they want to achieve? What do they want to avoid? At our most base level, humans are always moving toward pleasure or away from pain. It’s your job as an influencer to find what triggers each.

Observation is the foundation of influence. Once you have observed the influential triggers for the person you want to persuade, now you have something to work with. Rather than starting with a blank slate, you now can connect those influential triggers to your goal.

So, let’s say you are a consultant who helps small businesses with their internal systems and processes. You could have a well-crafted line in your pitch about how clients see improvement in their productivity in just 3 weeks. That’s great.

But is it influential?

In a conversation, your prospect might bring up how they lost 6 clients in the past few months because things slipped through the cracks due to their lack of systematized checks and balances. An un-influential person will stick with their snazzy and impressive one-liner about how clients can improve productivity in just 3 weeks.

That snazzy line has now lost its luster because it’s not what the prospect is interested in. It’s just a crafted line that doesn’t connect. It will not sway your prospects opinion because they currently are neutral about productivity. Productivity is not their influential trigger. The pain they want to avoid is losing more clients.

On the other hand, an influential person will attune to that divulged pain-point and connect it to the offering. The influential person will shift to describing how their consulting process has been proven to retain clientele. Or, if they don’t have that in their back pocket, they could still stick with the productivity line and connect it to the pain of losing clients. Which could sound something like, “Well, with our process, in 3 weeks you will see an improvement in productivity. And because your team will be working more efficiently, we’ll be plugging those leaky holes in your systems through which your lost customers escaped.”

From this standpoint, the influential process is simple.

First, know what you want.
As the great Stephen Covey put it, start with the end in mind. Know what you want from this conversation, marketing campaign, or business relationship.

Then, you observe. Find what is important to your prospect – what do they move towards and what do they move away from?

Next, connect the dots. How can you connect those triggers with your goal?

With these steps, you allow your prospect to show you how they want to be influenced. Try it out at your next meeting or event, and let me know how it goes.

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