Influence – How to Gain a Seat at the Table

April 14, 2018

“Hi, Preston. Guess what? I got the job”, said Linda with a glow in her voice.

“That’s awesome and congratulations. What was the deciding factor?” I asked.

“Influence. It was my demonstrated ability to influence and drive results,” Linda replied.

She continued, “I told them about the blueprint you taught me: 1) Know your business, 2) Know your partner’s business and 3) Have an assertive agenda. I walked them through specific examples of how I applied the blueprint and the positive results the team achieved.”

I was thrilled. “Fantastic Linda. I knew you’d begin to realize your potential if you learned how to influence others.”

“I can’t thank you enough. I appreciate your help in developing my analytical skills and ability to lead well. I’ll never forget it,” Linda said.

“My pleasure,” I replied. “You’ve got what it takes. Best wishes in your new role.”

***

When I hired Linda, I saw all kinds of potential. She had great people and communication skills but she lacked a key ingredient… Analytical skills – the ability to review market level data and develop insights. To improve her ability to influence her business partner and differentiate herself in the industry, Linda needed to be able to evaluate market data, identify value creation opportunities and solve problems.

Why are analytical skills so important and a critical part of influencing? W. Edwards Deming, the father of Total Quality Management, once said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”  I agree. Over the years, I’ve observed many sales associates or company representatives rely heavily on relationships to influence others without the use of facts. Relationships only go so far. Don’t get me wrong. I believe the ability to connect with people and develop lasting relationships are paramount.

But, I also believe that we can move beyond relationships and become strategic partners by leveraging analytical skills. We’ll have greater influence with others if we can show them how to make more money, solve problems or become more productive. To do these things, one must develop analytical capabilities and turn insights into action. If we couple relationship and analytical skills, we’ll become valued business partners. Without this differentiating combination, we’ll just be another salesperson, consultant or company representative without a seat at the table.

To develop Linda’s analytical capabilities, we invested time walking through internal and external reports. I taught her the metrics and measurements critical in evaluating business performance and identifying opportunities. Then, I showed her how to translate the information into valuable insights and turn the insights into action. Lastly, Linda was assigned projects where she was required to review data, draw conclusions and develop solutions.

As her confidence grew and skill developed, she began sharing her insights and potential revenue generating solutions with her business partners. Over time, her insights, ideas, and solutions were adopted and the team began delivering results. Linda’s credibility and influence grew as she moved from a business relationship to a strategic business partnership.

What was Linda’s blueprint for success?:

Linda’s influence grew over time. She made a difference and helped her business partner deliver positive results. You can do the same if you couple relationship and analytical skills. In the context of your ability to connect with people, you’ll be able to help businesses make more money, solve problems or become more productive. If you do, you’ll become a strong influence and always have a seat at your business partner’s table.

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