Influencing the Influence of Others
November 5, 2009 1 Comment
Influential sales reps can have a great impact on sales teams, whether good or bad. The wise manager will know how to identify and leverage that influence to his or her advantage.
Turn the Negative into Positive Influence:
When an outspoken sales rep is spreading complaints, the effects can be devastating on the sales culture and over-all morale. Managers who try to suppress this rep may get the opposite effect from what they had intended. Have you ever tried to suppress a ball in a swimming pool? The further down in the water you try to keep it, the greater the resistance you get in return and the bigger a splash it makes.
Instead of trying to stop the complaining rep, engage them, listen to them (whether they are right or wrong) and try to win them over. Ask their input in advance when certain changes are on the horizon. Instill in them a sense that you trust them and view them as a leader. This will give you the right to expect them to use their influence prudently. You now have a relationship where you can leverage their influence instead of fighting against it. You will have transformed negative influence into positive.
Maximize the Positive Influence that Already Exists:
If a rep has a positive influence on your team (for example they advocate positive change and prove it quickly in practice) then don’t just leave them alone, maximize their influence on purpose. Involve them early to help shape important changes (such as new technology and processes that will affect daily life). This influence can be a powerful force in uniting the team towards a common goal.
As a manager, it is in your best interest to identify and guide existing influence. Note that not all outspoken people are influential. Focus on those with real influence.
Effectively channeling existing influence is one of the unquantifiable yet powerful ways to increase sales performance. This ability often separates the good sales leaders from the great. Your indirect influence through others is greater than your direct influence through yourself alone.