So, you work in marketing.
You want to progress your career.
You want to improve your leadership skills.
But you have a problem: Nobody seems to want to listen to you – or follow your lead. How do you deal with that?
One of the biggest challenges you face as a marketer is how to get the contributions, support and feedback you need. You often rely on the buy-in and decisions of others for doing your job in the best way. It’s not easy, but there are techniques available for you to use to improve your influence and your ability to lead people.
You can’t truly understand other people and their motivations if you don’t first understand your own. What drives you? What triggers you? What is it that makes you want to follow others and take their direction? A bit of introspection will make all the difference in being able to identify and impact the behaviour of others.
Know your stakeholders
Do you know who your ‘personal stakeholders’ are? Who makes the decisions that impact you? Who are the people you need in order to reach your goal? Who are your allies? Develop your ability to ‘tune in’ to the agendas of those people and align yourself to them.
Your ability to influence the decisions of other people is very closely linked to your ability to influence their priorities. You need to be able to make what’s important to you important to other people. You will of course still need to be sensitive to the individual and to the situation. Not everyone will react in the same way – unless you’re dealing with robots!
Adapt your communications
By learning to adapt your communications to suit each of your stakeholders, you can maximise your impact on them. The way you express yourself holds the key to their reaction and response.
Technique 1: The Three Ws
Whenever you ask someone to do something for you, always set the expectation from the start. The Three W technique is a good reminder for this!
Be very precise on what it is you need. Don’t allow them to assume the task is insignificant if it will in fact require a large effort on their part. And don’t assume they will instantly know what you mean – take the time to explain.
Make sure they understand why the task is important for you. Can you explain the context, or perhaps expand on what the favour would mean to you? This will help them connect with the bigger picture and see how their contribution will play a part in it.
Be clear on the deadlines. Do you have a hard stop at some point? Is there a critical finishing date? If you give an obvious timescale for the other person, it will help them prioritise it.Even if there is no specific urgency to the task, give an expectation of time anyway. Otherwise it may just end up in the other person’s ‘someday’ pile. Suggest that you follow up after a couple of weeks’ time, and then give them a gentle nudge when the time is up, to check progress
Technique 2: Make an offer
Everyone has their own agenda. And if you know something about what the other person is looking to achieve, you can align yourself to their goals.
Rather than simply asking someone to do something for you, try to frame it in such a way that the other person gets the feeling that they will also benefit from taking the action.
You may want to use phrases such as…
I wanted to give you the opportunity to be involved in my project first, before anyone else hears about it.
I know how much you care about social issues so I immediately thought of you when I started looking for charity sponsors.
Always take a moment to think about the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) factor. Why should they want to support you? How can you make it appealing to them?
Technique 3: Say thank you
Surprisingly many people forget to recognise and thank others for helping them.
No matter how important you are in the business, you can always afford to be polite! When someone acknowledges our efforts and shows gratitude, it makes us feel good. That good feeling is something we want to experience again, so we are likely to do more favours for that person in the future.
Don’t get overwhelmed
It may feel like a huge mountain to climb, but influence is a long game. By working towards a greater understanding – and acceptance – of yourself, you will gradually become more comfortable with expressing your leadership. Coupled with a strong ambition to understand your stakeholders and improve your communication techniques you will be well on the way towards lasting, genuine influence.
Want help to start your influence journey?
Join our free marketing group the Awesome Marketing Community on Facebook for guidance, advice and support on your journey towards becoming an influential marketer.