Contrary to common belief the key to influence is to speak the very minimum and listen to the very maximum.
We have been receiving meeting requests from one of the well known IT solution providers in beirut to introduce us to their services. When we decided to upgrade our printing solutions, we have called this company in but clearly mentioned to them that we only need printing solutions with specific specs and nothing further.
The sales person, a presentable young man, started off with some chit chat and then dived into his presentation. He started by introducing their company’s newsletter that we already receive and took my colleagues through it page by page. He then moved to describing each product that his company represents from telephones, to servers, to PCs, to laptops etc... My colleague interrupts him to thank him 1st for taking them through his presentation however as clearly mentioned to him, we are only looking for printing solutions since we are familiar with their newsletter and especially that the office is fully equipped. He, however was so committed to his presentation that he insisted on elaborating further on their laptops and the brands they represent. When my colleagues told him that there is no need to go through this section since we are all mac users in the office, he started showing them the mac laptops they have which are already in use in the office. By that time, both of my colleagues were disengaged and considered this meeting as a complete waste of time.
Obviously this salesperson was presenting in good faith, however instead of influencing his prospects he has actively disengaged them.
The key to profoundly influence someone lies in the below 3 steps:
We should ask other people questions, and show interest in their answers. Here you have to resist the urge to talk about yourself or use “I” statements. You also need to resist probing questions i.e. Asking questions with one possible answer.
This important step is almost forgotten. It is not enough to listen to others, we also have to understand what is being said and show it to the other person. If I don’t understand, I cannot act.
We usually omit the first two points and go straight to this one, however when we listen then understand, there is a great chance that this part is no longer needed. How many times you had people coming to ask for advice and after listening to them they find the solution by themselves?
Remember the key to influence is to listen more and talk less
Camil El Khoury