Bending the Curve

How often have you found yourself checking out or feeling defensive and pushing back as someone tries to “sell you” on their solution or proposed course of action?

The issue is usually not with the content of the solution if the influencer is technically competent in your domain.

The problem is that most people are under the illusion that the best way to convince someone to take action is to “talk them into it.” However, world has moved on from the days when this was true (the 1980’s are on the phone and they want their sales methods back!)

So what do we do? The answer is to position ourselves as the objective champion for our client’s needs, their trusted adviser and partner. We must first be careful to “meet them” by authentically acknowledging their position on the topic at hand before “moving them” to the perspective that best meets their needs. (See “Meet & Move”). Once we have skillfully done this, we have earned the right to influence them in a new direction.

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The tools of our trade in skillful influence are benefits and consequences. The benefits that matter are the ones that our partner wants the most. They are their goals, objectives, needs, and values. If we help them to understand that the direction we are proposing is actually the best path to achieve these professional and personal desires, they will change course.

If we can share a “success story” about other clients just like them who have gone this direction, it adds more juice to our strategy and increases our chances of success. This approach works best with people who are generally optimistic and goal-oriented.

The other strategy is to position the consequences of staying with their current trajectory and to help them understand how it increases the risk, cost or potential pain to them versus moving in the direction that we’re proposing.

This play is best supported with a “horror story” of what happened to other clients like them who stayed on the trajectory that they’re currently pursuing. Remember, do not threaten them; simply help them to understand the consequences that they are bringing upon themselves.

This approach works best with people who are generally risk-adverse and focused on avoiding unnecessary cost or pain.

Both approaches will work to “bend the curve” towards the trajectory you are proposing if:

  • You are committed to being an objective champion for your client’s needs
  • You meet them before you try to move them
  • You skillfully position the benefits or consequences that matter most to them

If you’re interested in Bigger Deals and Smoother Projects, Schedule a Meeting with us Today!

Authored For S3 Solutions by Steve Vislisel

Steve VisliselSteve Vislisel is the founder and President of S3 Solutions, based in Tiburon, CA. He is a master trainer, facilitator, and coach with deep expertise in strategic alignment, leadership development and sales mastery. Find out more at