Imagine this scenario:
You've been chasing a prospect for two weeks. You've already met with him and it looks like you're going to get the deal, but then he stops returning your calls.
You freak out.
Your mind tells you that he's no longer interested, he doesn't care, he's a jerk - you know the drill.
You thought you were good at influencing but now you feel impotent, unable to even get a response. You think of all the times you couldn't get through or make an appointment or close a deal and you start to feel like a loser.
Dear Abby: "What do I do now?"
Then Abby gives you some advice:
"Call at different times, send a series of emails, talk to a subordinate or perhaps his boss. Be patient. And above all, don't sound desperate as that will only make things worse."
OK, you try all that. But still nothing. No return call.
You probably think I'm going to give you the "magic silver bullet follow-up technique," don't you?
Well, it does work like magic, but it won't be what you expect.
The Influence Game
If you really think about it, marketing is ALL about influence. Trying to get attention is influence. Getting an appointment is influence. Closing the deal is influence. Getting your clients to take your advice is influence.
Influence is getting others to do what you want them to do.
And when we fail to influence, we feel powerless. We get upset, withdraw and often give up. It's just too hard, too painful. And marketing starts to look like a bad idea. So we go back to our default plan: "I'll do the best job I can with my current clients and hope they send me some referrals."
Another way is to attack with the "blame game."
Ever notice that the blame game does nothing to increase your ability to influence? If anything, it makes it worse. Just try leaving a message on your prospect's voice mail that goes, "You g&*%#@%n son of a b*%&h, why don't you return my f#%&ing calls! I want to work with you, you a%%$&#e!"
See how far that gets you!
When we fail to influence, why is it so upsetting? Why all this frustration and anger? Here's the easiest way to answer that:
"What would you have to believe to feel that way?"
Beliefs (usually unexamined ones), are the foundation of everything we feel. So when we examine those beliefs, we can finally see what's really going on.
You might answer:
"I believe people should be considerate and that they should have the decency to get back to me. When they don't, I feel they are disrespecting me and rejecting me and hurting me intentionally."
Something like that. Pretty reasonable, right?
So let's examine that. Is that true? Can you absolutely know that this is true? People should be considerate. Is that true? People are disrespecting me and rejecting me. Is that true?
By the way, very few people ask this question when they're upset. After all, it's much easier to withdraw or blame.
But is it true?
Is it really, absolutely true that they should act the way you want them to act? If you have even an ounce of honesty you've got to admit that it's not true. It's about as ludicrous as expecting a fish to be hairy or a dog to have fins.
People act they way they act. That's the way it is.
But when you really believe they should do something and they don't, you're upset, you get frustrated, impatient and angry. You become the proverbial pain in the butt. Don't you?
What if you couldn't think that anymore? I mean, now that you know it's nonsense, what would you do instead? Now that you understand that the idea, "They should do this my way," is a fantasy, what might you think instead? What could you do? Who would you be?
You might think a lot of things that aren't upsetting at all:
"They might be out of town. They're probably ridiculously busy right now and my project just isn't their biggest priority. Maybe the project won't happen; after all, not every deal goes through. Perhaps I should look more closely at my proposal; maybe I missed something important. Come to think of it, they might not be an ideal client after all. I have some other prospects in my pipeline that I should start to pursue."
Now you're thinking sanely.
And here's the punch line:
If you're thinking sanely, you have a much better chance of influencing someone. Then you can deal with reality: "They are not returning my call." You can't impact a fantasy: "They should return my call."
Small difference, but whole new possibilities open up.
Will you get the client? Will they get back to you?
How do I know? Maybe yes, maybe no. But now you don't have to take all of this so personally and let it upset you. Instead of disasterizing about failure, you can start to work on your next strategy. Instead of withdrawing or blaming, you can start creating again.
It's your move. Are you ready to play the Influence Game?
More Clients Bottom Line: Influence starts by accepting the situation just as it is, not resisting it or blaming others. Influence is about communicating with understanding, with compassion, with patience. There is no one way that things or people should be. Knowing that, you can more towards getting what you want with a lot less struggle.
Note: Thanks to Byron Katie for the ideas in today's More Clients.
Where does a "they should" thought get you upset and stop you from playing the influence game? Please share your answer on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the Comments section below.