Selling is Influencing, and Influencing is Selling

Selling is Influencing, and Influencing is Selling

During a recent Championship Selling™ workshop I had one of the attendees, Sharon, approach me at a break. She waited patiently for me to finish with one of her co-workers and was finally able to ask me her question; “I’m enjoying the workshop so far but I can’t help thinking I’m probably not supposed to be here. I’m not in sales and really don’t impact selling for our company”.

Now Sharon’s perspective is a common, and valid, one that many people have with regard to sales. They see selling as a specific role or function in their company that often doesn’t have anything to do with what they are responsible for. I am sure many of you have either heard this question before or are asking it yourselves. The simple truth of the matter is that all of us are in sales; it’s just that for some of us our “selling” happens internally rather than externally. I know, I know you have heard that before, probably from a sales leader as they are trying to rally the troops around the next big opportunity. But this rallying cry does not always ring true in the ears of those who don’t have sales in their job description. So let’s use Sharon to help illustrate the fact that everyone is in sales.

Firstly, Sharon is in a customer service role, dealing with existing customers with a focus on ensuring they are happy with the relationship with Sharon’s company. In this role, Sharon needs to be able to engage with the customer in a way that builds confidence and trust so that she can effectively identify and confirm their needs. This happens through effective questioning and listening and allows Sharon to formulate and present an effective solution for each customer’s situation. After she presents her solution Sharon confirms this meets the customers’ need and the next steps. The process Sharon goes through also happens to mirror the key steps that successful salespeople use everyday in their interaction with prospects.

In her role Sharon is selling a solution for the needs of existing customers. Her “sale” may not result in revenue for her company (although this sometimes happens) but it does support the retention of customers. Another perspective is influencing people’s opinions when trying to get buy-in or support. Think of your interactions when on a project team. How are you gaining consensus within the team? Chances are you are “selling” your ideas, or “buying” into someone else’s.

We can all benefit from sales training by improving our selling or influencing skills. The process is the same even if the context is different. How are you improving your skills?