Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining experts from Applied Influence Group (AIG) for a day’s training on influence. The snow-dusted HMS Belfast was our venue as I was joined by some thoroughly interesting people from academia, business, armed forces and government.
AIG have a unique perspective on influence. Born in the high-stress environments of military conflicts, their process is highly practical and useful for everyone, regardless of position or objective.
Although the course focused on one-to-one lessons in influence, there are a number of lessons I took away for my marketing. As marketeers we are trying to influence others, to be persuasive and to change people’s mindsets - AIG’s approach to doing this is as applicable in a marketing context as it is in a more personal sphere.
Here are the lessons I learned from AIG:
- Be proactive. Give yourself as much time as possible. Influencing people takes more time than you think. Every minute of preparation is invaluable.
- Be deliberate. Understand in detail what you want to achieve. Have a long and short-term goal with a set of steps to drive toward each.
- Know intimately who you are reaching. Don’t stop at demographics, try to understand what motivates them and what opinions inform their actions.
- Know and understand the environment your targets operate in. What factors in their role, company or industry are positive or negative for them personally.
- Recognise that everything you do has significance. The smallest parts of what you say, what you don’t say and how you say it impact on your likelihood of achieving your goals.
- Find a common understanding. Start building your case with something that you agree on.
- Be concise.Say exactly what you mean and no more.
This one was a more personal lesson for myself.
Conflict and disagreement are not something to be avoided at all costs.Persuading and changing established mindsets is not easy. Do the preparation, have faith in the method and be prepared for the best, worst and most likely outcomes.
Finally, a lesson I learned before the course from Dan Connors’ article. Practice.
One of the questions that often comes up when we work with clients, is "how do I get better at this?" The people we work with often already have good influence skills but want to improve further. The simple answer is 'deliberate practice'.