Persuasion and influence skills have always been a big part of leadership effectiveness. In today’s complex and matrix organizations these skills are central to our success. There are many people and situations that we don’t have direct control over. This could be upward to more senior leaders, outward to our peers and other departments, and increasingly toward our team members or direct reports who want to be convinced, not told, what to do.

Influence Index - Growing the DistanceA reader of Growing the Distance recently e-mailed me to outline how they are using our Influence Index outlined in that book, in their long and complex sales process of selling software to food processors:

“We have taken your Assessing Our Ability to Influence Others process and are using it after each sales meeting to help us focus on what task we need to accomplish to move an engagement forward to a positive sale, and which engagement we should walk away from earlier as we have little to no chance of influencing that potential customer. You could likely put together a full day seminar just on this chart.”

I began my career in sales at Culligan Water. I then entered the training and development field as a sales trainer for Dale Carnegie Training and Culligan. My early days at The Achieve Group (now AchieveGlobal) were heavily focused on selling — and training our Account Managers to sell — our training programs to large, complex public and private sector organizations. In that work I came across Bob Miller and Steve Heiman’s extremely helpful book, Strategic Selling. I found the approaches so useful I became certified to deliver their training program based on its concepts.

How often do you catch yourself thinking “I keep trying to tell them, but they won’t listen to me?” There are likely very good reasons they’re not listening. A large sub-set of leadership “soft skills” involves selling our ideas to others. What are you learning from the discipline of sales skills to get more people to listen — and to act?

Further Reading: