Influence Tactics

Influence Tactics: Defining

Let's first understand the difference between persuasion and influence.

Lance Tyson in his book, "The Human Sales Factor" puts it this way.
"Essentially persuasion moves a person to think differently, while influence ignites a behaviour."

As a salesperon you need to INFLUENCE a prospect to ACT i.e. order.

So, lets now define influence tactics

Influence tactics are powerful tools that can significantly enhance your sales strategy.
They are techniques used to convince others to act, particularly in the context of selling a product or service. The ability to effectively influence others can determine the success of a sales interaction, making it a crucial skill for any salesperson.

This page will delve into the importance of influence tactics, explore specific techniques, and provide practical advice on how to apply them in sales situations.

Understanding Influence Tactics

Influence tactics are not just about saying the right words to get someone to act.; they are about understanding people, their needs, and their motivations.

This aligns perfectly with your values of authenticity, honesty, and generosity. While the six principles of influence outlined by Robert Cialdini provide a solid foundation, there are many other tactics that can be equally effective in a sales context.

For years many believed that the ability to influence was a character attribute some had it and others did not. 
It's true for some people; the power to influence comes naturally. 

However, research conducted over the past 30 years indicates that virtually anyone can apply the principles of influence to change the outcome of any personal interaction. This research, based on extensive observation of leading salespeople across a wide variety of industries, has identified certain patterns of behavior and speech that increase the likelihood of a successful sale.

Why Would You Use Influence Tactics

As an ambitious and motivated sales professional, you're always looking for ways to make a difference, help people, and advance your career.

Influence tactics are powerful tools that can significantly enhance your sales strategy. These techniques are used to convince others, particularly in the context of selling a product or service. Mastering these tactics can be a game-changer in your sales interactions.

Are you able to use the appropriate influence tactics effectively?

As stated, Influence is the process of changing someone's behavior. 
It's about being able to move things forward, without pushing, forcing or telling others what to do. 
It's the ability to work everything at your disposal, both verbal and non-verbal communication, to create the impact you want, rather than letting things just happen.

I have read that there are ten common influence tactics that people can use ethically (some are more valid is sales than others):

  • Legitimizing by referring to or using recognized authority
  • Logical Persuading by using logic to persuade the influencee.
  • Appealing to Friendship and asking friends for favors or assistance
  • Socializing to establish rapport, find commonalities and build a connection
  • Consulting by examining a problem and working with the influence towards a solution
  • Stating, boldly and directly stating what you want the prospect to do
  • Appealing to Values, inspiring cooperation by appealing to values, emotions, or feelings
  • Modeling or setting an example for others to follow
  • Exchanging by giving something of value to the influencee in return for something you want
  • Alliance Building, building an alliance of supporters who can help you influence others

According to Robert B. Cialdini PhD, there are 6 universal influence tactics
Today, in this field, Dr. Cialdini is the most-cited living Social Psychologist in the world.

But merely applying a tactic will not make you an effective influencer.

Influence effectiveness depends on a combination of factors including: choice of influence tactic, your skill at using the tactic and your personal power.

So, the first task of a would be influencer is to know the influence tactics that are available for them to use. 
The list above and Cialdini's principles (see my influence summary) are a good start.

Specific Influence Tactics

Here are a few key influence tactics that go beyond Cialdini's principles:

  1. Active Listening: This involves fully focusing on the customer, understanding their message, and responding thoughtfully. Active listening can help build trust and rapport, making the customer more receptive to your suggestions.
  2. Assertiveness: This is about expressing your ideas confidently and clearly, without being aggressive or passive. Assertiveness can help you guide the conversation and influence the customer's decisions.
  3. Empathy: This involves understanding and sharing the feelings of the customer. By showing empathy, you can connect with the customer on a deeper level and better address their needs and concerns.
  4. Adaptability: This involves adjusting your approach based on the customer's personality and the situation. Some customers may respond better to a direct approach, while others may prefer a more consultative approach.
  5. Persistence: This involves following up with the customer, addressing their objections, and not giving up after the first rejection. Persistence can often be the key to closing a sale.

Using Influence Tactics

It's important to practice the application of each tactic because using each tactic is a skill and skills need to be practiced. 

Using influence tactics well requires a healthy combination of interpersonal, communication, presentation, and assertiveness techniques, verbal skills such as asserting, probing, persisting, speaking conversationally, and willingness to ask for favors. 

Yet, equally important are non-verbal skills such as conveying energy and enthusiasm, using a compelling tone of voice, using authority without appearing heavy-handed, sensitivity to others' feelings and needs, and building rapport and trust.

But, there is no right way, nor is there only one way to influence others. Everything is a factor when influencing people.

Our personality and history of success will predispose us to use certain influence strategies. 
As the old saying goes "he who is good with a hammer thinks everything is a nail".

However, each influence tactic requires a unique set of skills, which can be learned if you don't come by them naturally. And different tactics work better with some people and in certain situations.

In choosing a tactic, you need to know how and to what your listener responds as well as what the situation requires. 
For example, does your listener make decisions based on logic or based on people-centred values? 
Do they value affiliation and a participatory approach or do they respond more to legitimate authority?

We must, absolutely, have a proper understanding of people and their nature if we are ever to win others to our way of thinking.
When you gain a proper understanding, then, and only then, can you become a successful person of influence.

Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" gives an incredible insight into human behavior. If you've never read this classic book I highly recommend it.

To best influence people you must also have an understanding of yourself and the effect or impact you have on others. It' s about knowing how others perceive you. 

If there is an underlying principle it's "pace then lead". 
You have to meet people where they are in order to take them to where you want them to go.

You need to listen to your prospect. 
Listen for what they want and what they need. Also listen for who they are and what influence tactic they will respond to. 

Listening to people, really listening to them is very important.

This is one of the big secrets to influencing people;
the more you make the other person feel important the more they will respond to you. 

It's human nature for people to want to be recognized and to feel like "somebody." 

It's been said about recognition, "Babies cry for it and grown men die for it."

As a sales person you gain a lot of ground by first listening to others without judgment and criticism, hearing what is important to them, and hearing what will move them. 

As Steven Covey stated in his book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" , "seek first to understand, then to be understood".
When you know what will move them, you will then know how to move them because you will be able to tell them what they want to hear. 

You can simply show them how they can get what they want by doing what you want. 


Mastering influence tactics can significantly enhance your sales strategy. By understanding and applying these tactics, you can increase your ability to persuade and convince potential customers, ultimately leading to more successful sales interactions. Remember, influence is not just about persuasion; it's about understanding people and their needs. The more effectively you can do this, the more successful you will be in your sales efforts.

Further Reading