Salespeople must lead through influence – 5 tips

Selling through influence

Selling through influence

The importance of team selling to overall sales success continues to build. We hear this increasingly from clients and colleagues. The theme is prominently being reported in research, too.

This team selling trend presents a new challenge for salespeople: leading sales teams though influence. Selling through influence isn’t an easy thing for salespeople to do because:

1. They cannot lead through an established hierarchy because they don’t have positional authority so they must lead through influence.

2. The sales teams are comprised  of people representing different parts of the company –technical staff, internal sales support people (e.g., proposal development, pricing), and perhaps even sales reps in other divisions – who may have different sales goals and even selling styles.

And, of course, this is happening in a selling environment where sales teams must navigate an ever-changing, long and multi-player decision cycle with competitors lurking around ever corner. To add to the sense of urgency, there are constant reminders of the consequences of winning or losing.

Although each situation has its own factors that contribute to success, here are five ideas for to help salespeople lead sales teams through influencing.

  • Build credibility – think about it, talk about it and then don’t pretend to know when you don’t.
  • Establish trust – do what you say you are going to do and make sure others know their interests are understood and being considered.
  • Being aware of different styles and adapt yours – everyone on the team is different, acknowledge and leverage those differences.
  • Listen – ask, listen and then talk.  Telling informs people but only questions can persuade.  Influencing requires unfiltered listening to others.
  • Compromise – rigidity is a significant barrier to leading through influence.  Instead listen, persuade and compromise when necessary.

In complex B2B markets, the importance of team selling is likely to continue to increase.  And, a sales team is not just several people who happen to be in the same room and at the same time.  Effective teams require leadership  – for sales teams that means salespeople need to develop the ability to lead through influence.

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©2014 Sales Momentum®, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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One Response to Salespeople must lead through influence – 5 tips

  1. Mishka says:

    This is useful for my sales support services team. Customers buy from company’s people and it’s absolutely relevant to strengthen internal and external collaboration to influence and develop your team.

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