Selling is not one size fits all

The Nature of Influence: It's Situational

In the world of selling, there's no one-size-fits-all approach.

Your ability to influence a buyer, and the choices and decisions they make, is profoundly situational.

It’s influenced by the unique world view of each individual you encounter.

And, as a seller, you have to be attuned to those unique differences.

A few years ago I read a profile in The Atlantic magazine of Timothy Keller, a renowned theologian whose career was spent building new churches in communities around the US and the world.

Keller's experiences shed light on the fact that the path to building influence varies based on the individual.

When opening a new church in a blue-collar community, Keller found that building trust was paramount.

Congregants needed to know Keller on a personal level, to have experienced his wisdom and support before they’d lend an ear to his preaching.

He had to be a good human first; and help them as individuals in order to build their trust before he could “sell” his “product” (ie attract them to attend church to hear him preach.)

Here, the influence sequence looked like this: Connection - Trust - Activation (Interest) - Influence.

However, in a big city like New York, Keller had to adapt his process to align with the needs of a different set of “buyers.”

In that instance, he found that he had to lead with highly targeted “content” (ie, sermons) that resonated with that specific audience.

He had to prove his ability to add relevant value to them before he could to make the human connection that would empower him to influence them.

In this context, the order of influence shifted to Activation (Interest) - Connection - Trust - Influence.

The key takeaway here is that influence is not a cookie-cutter process with fixed stages.

It's a personalized journey that hinges on the needs and expectations of your buyers.

If you rigidly adhere to a predetermined stage-based sales process, without being attuned to the human requirements of your buyers, you risk missing the mark.

Much like Keller, your influence in sales is both personal and professional.

It's rooted in the human connection you forge and the value you bring to the table.

Just as Keller adapted his approach to suit the circumstances, you must tailor your strategy to align with your buyers' specific situation.

Your ability to discern what your audience values most, and needs from you first, will be the key to your influence.