If Bill Gates or Nicole Kidman walked up to you and asked you to purchase a product or a service, chances are good that you would seriously consider it. The reason is that being a celebrity is a powerful influence in our world, and influence in turn is a powerful sales tool. You do not have to be a famous celebrity to develop influence, however, and it is one of the best (and free) ways to become a better sales person.
Whether you like it or not, your appearance is an immediate influence on your sales success. After all, impressions are the first chance people have to assess our likability and our power. As stated by Professor Arturo Perez-Reyes of the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business Administration, “What you intend matters only to you and your god or gods. What your audience infers means everything…and audiences are a fickle lot.” Furthermore, other scientific studies have found that both men and women correlate physical beauty with inner beauty and assume that physically attractive people are more successful. Men place even higher value on physical attractiveness. Those who are assumed to be successful often find themselves being more successful in turn. This does not mean that you must be physically attractive to be successful or influential. Rather, make sure that your appearance is attractive. Ensure that your hair is clean and groomed, your nails are short and clean and your clothes tidy, well fitting and clean as well. Professional dress should make a statement about how you want to be seen.
Examples for men include a collared shirt, grey, black or grey slacks and jacket, a conservative tie, black or grey socks and polished black shoes. For women, a professional appearance includes a simple pencil skirt that hits just above the knee or tailored slacks, a conservative blouse and/or jacket, simple jewelry and low heels or flats. Remember to keep the makeup simple and the hair nicely groomed. Skip perfume or cologne since many people are allergic.
In order to be truly influential, your behavior must also be polished. Greet others formally, offer a firm handshake, and be confident but not cocky. One of the best ways to increase your influence through your behavior is by knowing yourself and your business. Be able to speak clearly and crisply and organise your ideas into logical sequences and practice being able to respond calmly and logically to any argument. Influential people are able to employ reciprocity, affability, commitment and authority. Some of these traits are easy to acquire, such as affability, which simply means being polite and friendly to everyone you meet. Others, such as commitment and authority require your expertise and confidence as you speak.
Practice these traits during your everyday life and you will find that they come more easily in your business life as well. Other, more subtle ways that can grow your influence is by showing basic simple communication skills, something that is largely lost in today’s technological world. Call someone instead of texting them and send a handwritten thank you card after you meet with someone for a sale, meeting or interview. Follow up within the first 24 hours of the meeting. If you wait too long, your impression will already be losing steam and so will your influence.
Write and send birthday cards and holiday cards and be sincere in what you write.
Who you know has much to do with how influential you are. Dedicate real time to developing your business network and you will see your ability to influence others grow as a result. For example, develop your professional profile on business social media sites such as LinkedIn and join relevant business groups. Ask for connections and introductions to others in your industry or market that others know whom you would like to know or meet. Be polite but bold. Attend seminars, conferences, meetings and local business groups so that you can meet others in your industry and strengthen your connection with those you do know. Do the same with groups in your target market.
If you want to be influential in sales, you need to be memorable by being a true expert in your field. Anyone can parrot back information, but knowing and understanding the business, the industry and the market is another thing entirely. Learn everything that you can learn and listen to others to gain from their expertise. Attending seminars and conferences also gives you the chance to learn more and develop your knowledge. The more that you know, the better you will be at sales and the better you are at sales, the more influential you become.
Essentially, developing your personal influence will in turn influence your ability to increase sales. This is done through professional and impressive appearance, behaviour, networking and expertise. If you work on being sharp, credible and thorough in those four elements, you will find that you become more and more influential and your sales will follow.