May 2, 2016

Sales Tip: Using Powerful Body Language

Everyone knows something about body language and how it impacts the way that people perceive us.

We all know a firm handshake is good, eye contact relays confidence and smiling makes us more likeable.

But did you know your body language has a scientifically proven impact on your own body and your emotions?

Sales Tip - use the Wonder Woman power pose for confidenceBy adopting certain postures for only 2 minutes, such as the wonder woman pose here, you can make yourself feel more powerful and confident… a very useful tip when you are preparing for a high pressure situation such as a difficult meeting or an important sales pitch.

By Changing your Body Chemistry ….
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School Professor and social psychologist, is known for her interest in emotions, power, nonverbal behaviour, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels.

During her research into social stimuli and hormones Amy proved that certain body postures that she calls ‘Power Poses’ can immediately change your body chemistry, which in turn changes your emotional state.

…You Change your Emotional State
Research into successful and powerful leaders has shown that as welLean forward in a meeting to project powerl as sharing similar mindsets they also have similar hormone levels.

They tend to have higher testosterone levels which are associated with power and dominance, and lower cortisol levels which indicate decreased anxiety and a better ability to deal with stress.

Levels of both of these hormones can change rapidly depending on the social, physical and environmental cues around you. If you are in a situation that makes you feel anxious or less then confident (ie. a difficult meeting or an important pitch), you can counter that by changing your body posture.  This will in turn change your testosterone and cortisol levels which will change your emotional state.

Power Posing
To increase your testosterone and reduce your cortisol Amy suggests 2 minutes in a high Power Pose.

This involves opening up your body, stretching and expanding it as much as possible. Basically you are making yourself appear bigger – think Mick Jagger strutting on stage!

Power poses help you to feel confidentIf you need to feel more confident we suggest adopting a high power pose for 2 minutes (ideally before your meeting and not whilst in it!) to help your body to create the right balance of testosterone and cortisol to help you to feel more powerful and relaxed.

If you continue to use power body language in your meeting or pitch (see the  picture at the end of this post for examples) you will positively impact how others perceive you too.

It is also useful to be aware of your posture so that you avoid ‘low power’ poses, where you are hunched or making yourself smaller (look down at your notes or slouching in your chair).

Power poses help to decrease anxietyWe drew on Amy’s research in the development of our C3 Model of Influencing, and we use her Power Posing ideas as one of the ways to boost your confidence when in a high stakes situation.

Below are some examples of high power poses with the associated low power pose underneath to avoid.

Amy’s TED talk on how your body language shapes who you are is one of the most popular talks of all time is and definitely worth the 20 minutes to watch if you haven’t seen it

Amy Cuddy's Power Poses

Nov 26, 2015

Ask the Authors – A Reader’s Question

We recently had this question in from Anthony about approaching new customers.  It’s a common problem – we hope reading this helps you if you have issues around mindset and confidence.

Question:  “I have been offered a sales job which will lead onto me becoming the operations director, but it’s a start up business in an industry in which I have no experience, and I have to contribute through gaining sales contracts for our service providing business.

Sales has always interested me, and I know a sales job would give me great satisfaction.  Although I lack the sales experience, I can talk to people very well, it’s confidence and approach that I’m having issues with.  I am unsure how to approach this sales position as we need to get contracts in soon and cold calling does not seem the right way forward.  I am struggling to believe in myself in this industry and how I am going to achieve my goal of bringing in new contracts.

Is there any advice you can give me about approaching new customers, best practise and believing in myself?”

Our Answer:  You are right to highlight self-belief as a critical success factor and the first step is to specifically define your current mindset and understand how this will be impacting your behaviour and, therefore, your results. Once you have done this you should identify any alternative and more supporting mindsets that you can truly believe in (but not an opposite one as this would not be truly believable for you).

There is another alternative which focuses on behaviour and that would be to just go out and start doing the work because what you will find is that you will feel more confident if you are more competent in the role, and you will grow competence through experience. So no shortcuts here, you have just got to get out and see clients.

Re the question around approaching new customers, whilst this is a big question one practical step that will also have a positive impact on mindset is to focus on how you can add real value to everybody that you come into contact with. This approach, called reciprocity, encourages the people you connect with to see you as adding value and they are therefore more likely to talk about you to their friends and networks.

In terms of approach, there is too much we could cover to do it here, but if you continue to read through Brilliant Selling there are a range of choices of how you approach them, eg.

  • Turn up at their offices
  • Send emails
  • Send marketing materials
  • Go to networking events
  • Connect on LinkedIn
  • Attend conferences/presentations
  • Employ a cold calling expert
  • Offer a taster session.

Influence Model The C3 Model of InfluencingTM Field Guide (which we have sent you) will take you through a series of exercises which will help you with mindset and confidence.  It will teach you how to apply practical techniques to be confident, credible and to connect naturally with people in any situation so that you can influence them more easily to your way to thinking.

Good luck!

Have you been in Anthony’s position?  If so, do you have some tips on how to overcome it?  Let us know by commenting below, we would love to hear from you.

Jul 15, 2015

The Hidden Impact of Mindset (and how you can change it)

To influence you need a confident mindset In whatever we do, whether it is delivering training, writing books or speaking, Tom and I are fundamentally, at the most simple level, helping people to reach their potential.  That is why we love doing what we do.

As we both work with hundreds of people over the course of a year the one thing we constantly find is that the biggest issue getting in the way of an individual developing in order to reach their potential is their mindset.

You have to have the right mindset for success in whatever situation you are in, and mindset is an attitude, which is quite different from character which is made up of your personal qualities.

Mindset and Influence
The skill of influencing is actually very simple.  The techniques, the knowledge, everything that you might need to know about how to influence effectively is very straight forward.  But if you have a negative view about your ability to influence somebody, it’s going to come out in your behaviours.

First meetings are high stakes influencing situationsSo maybe as a small business owner you might be seeking to influence somebody in a corporate organisation and you are feeling slightly less confident than usual, or as a manager you are seeking to influence a subordinate that in the past has been a little bit difficult in terms of the relationship.

This lack of confidence about the situation will have an impact on your mindset, so that when you go into that conversation your mindset will encourage certain behaviours, and those behaviours will determine your results

Presenting with Influence
Let’s consider as an example somebody in a medium sized business, perhaps a manager who has got a few people under them but they’ve now got this opportunity to speak at a conference.  Fear of public speaking is right up there in the top ten fears that the people hold. They may have all the knowledge in the world, they might have a really compelling point of view, and the audience could be 50 people, 100 people, and riveted around this subject matter. But if that manager in that situation of giving a presentation feels a lack of confidence or situational confidence, that will have an impact.  To be more effective at  influencing that group the manager just needs to be more confident in that moment of influence.

And you can make people more confident.  There are lots of techniques that are very straight forward, very well proven, there is a lot of science behind it, and they will allow people to become more confident in the moment. So that’s not about character. In fact we would suggest, if you are going to be presenting to a group, that’s about being more of yourself. But you have got to be confident to deliver the message.

You need a confident mindset to present with influenceIn this presenting situation, when mindset is an issue, the reason it negatively impacts so often is because people don’t realise that they’ve got this negative mindset. They have this feeling of anxiety, this feeling of nerves or discomfort, but they don’t name it, they don’t put their awareness on it.  And if you are not aware of something you can’t change it.

And it’s no good them saying, “well look, I’m really nervous about giving this presentation” and us saying “well just be really confident about it”, that won’t work.  But if you can understand what is getting in the way in terms of mindset, you can then choose to focus on something that can also be true but is perhaps more helpful.

So rather than going into that presentation thinking ” oh I’m going to mess it up, it’s not something I want to do”, if you are aware of how you are thinking you could go in with the attitude of “I’ve got a message that I know would be really valuable to this group”. If you go in with that at the front of your mind, you are going to do a better job and you are going to be more confident in your delivery.

Being aware of your mindset is the first step to changing it A lot of what we do is about helping people understand what they believe to be true about a situation – their mindset.  What is the mindset that you need if you are going to be effective in any influencing situation?  Well typically, that’s the mindset of confidence.

Have you been in situations where you know your mindset has impacted your outcome?  We would love to hear about it.

May 18, 2015

The Power of Influence – Tom’s Share Radio Interview

Tom Bird speaking on influence on Share RadioOne of Tom’s favourite sayings is “we cannot NOT influence”.

This is because we all influence in our everyday interactions, whether we are aware of it or not, and of course we often try to influence consciously in many of our business situations.

So Tom was excited to be invited recently to talk to Nick Peters, journalist and Editor of Business First magazine, on his weekly programme on Share Radio.

You can listen to the interview here.

The show, called “Shop Floor”, is all about work and the workplace in all its forms.  Nick was interested in the idea of sales as a culture, not just something that someone who has the word SALES in their title does.  He wanted to explore how influence can be used to empower everyone in the organisation to ‘sell’ the company every time they deal with a customer.

Tom had a great time talking to Nick about C-cubed influence, how mindset effects our ability to influence, and how C-cubed influence is having an impact in organisations around the world.

NIck Peters, presenter of Sjhare Radio's Shop Floor programmeShare Radio is one of London’s newest radio stations, and you can listen to the radio interview here.

Sep 29, 2014

Sales Results vs Sales Performance

Imagine this scene.  You have just finished a lengthy sales meeting with your boss.  You have been left in no doubt that you have to hit the quarterly revenue target.  In fact you spent most of the meeting discussing the revenue number and the prospects and how likely they were to close this quarter.  Your boss is under pressure and therefore so are you, so the focus was on ranking and likelihood of deal closing.  Does that sound familiar?  This meeting is about results only.

It is often said that ‘sales is all about results’.  In a real way this is true, but the only problem is we can’t ‘do’ a result.  If the sole focus of our attention is on the number, target or sector penetration percentage then we might know when we have got there (because it is measureable) but in order to ‘get there’ and achieve that objective we will need to focus on performance – those things that we can control or do and which either contribute or detract from achieving the result.

Contrast this with a meeting that outlines the result (you need to hit the number) and then discussed your specific action plan for each account.  Perhaps for one the focus is on the next meeting and how you can plan and prepare.  Maybe for another it is brainstorming how you can reach the decision-maker and what you can do to influence them the most.  This meeting is focusing on different aspects of performance that will help to maximise the chance of achieving the result or objective that you want.

What makes a focus on performance so effective is that YOU are in control of it.  If you think about an Olympic swimmer training for the 400m freestyle event, clearly the result he or she wants is to win the event.  But the swimmer can’t control the outcome because there will be seven other swimmers in the same pool.   But the swimmer can focus on his/her own performance and set a challenging performance goal which acts as the focus.

There are many things that contribute to performance in sales and you need to keep focused only on these things that you can control or things that you are able to influence.  A big part of what can make the difference is being able to influence in ALL sales situations – whether it is a telephone conversation, a first face-to-face meeting or a key presentation – and not just those situations in which we feel comfortable.

We have developed ‘C-cubed influence’ to focus on 3 areas that we can all control – confidence, credibility and connection – in order to become highly influential in any sales situation.  We regularly teach C-cubed influence to our clients around the world, and if you are strong in all these three areas then you will become a highly skilled influencer.

May 9, 2014

Available now – THE blueprint on how to influence people

We are very excited to have just published our new e-book The C3 Model of Influencing Field Guide and it is available NOW on Amazon in Kindle format.  It has been published worldwide and is available in 245 countries!  The Field Guide is an innovative yet simple blueprint that can teach C-cubed Influence to anyone.

If you agree with us that few people like being sold to… but everyone is open to influence, then you will understand that being able to influence more easily in key situations can have a big impact on your outcomes, whether it is in business or in your personal life.  The C3 Model of Influencing™ takes the many different aspects of behaviour, thinking and communication involved in influencing and distils them into 3 simple elements that form the foundations of influencing.  The Field Guide has been written to actually teach you the Model through developing your skills in these 3 key areas.

What can the Field Guide do for you?  Here are some ways in which your ability to influence people more effectively will help you right now:

  • Ensure your message is heard in a way that maximises the chance of agreement and buy-in
  • Influence your colleagues, managers, peers and customers to take on board your suggestions or points of view
  • Make your presentations more impactful and influential
  • Become more influential personally in your company, sector or area of specialism
  • Achieve your outcomes through personal rather than positional authority
  • Retain good relationships but make them more effective for you
  • Become a better manager or leader.

The Model itself has been developed from both our own research, and research from others, and we have refined and trained it around the world to literally thousands of people.  The feedback we get from participants on our programmes is that the C3 Model of Influencing is effective, transferable and easy to learn and apply.

As leaders we have a variety of different communities and individuals who we need to influence: our own people, our peers and the people we report in to. Being able to effectively influence all of these groups is critical to our future success.

If you believe, as we do, that influence is the key to success, then visit Amazon now to buy your copy of The C3 Model of Influencing™ Field Guide.

Apr 28, 2009

Top tips- Sales presentation tips from Barack Obama and Bill Clinton…

While I was on holiday recently I turned on the TV and there was Barack Obama giving a news conference from the G20 meeting. I sat watching his speech and the Q&A he held afterwards for longer than I have spent watching any other political presentation. He made for very credible, compelling viewing and it got me thinking…in sales we absolutely need some of the same abilities! In my view Bill Clinton also had the ‘secret ingredients’ to compel attention. What makes someone ‘statesman-like’, what is it that makes us want to listen and believe the message?

In sales we often need to present our suggestions and solutions to groups of people. It can be the difference between winning and losing a deal. What are the key tips that we can learn from credible presenters to help ensure that our message is received in the way that we want it to be? Here are my top five lessons in effective ‘sales’ presentations from Barack and Bill…I would love to hear yours…

I have focused on a few things that are behavioural as these are things that we can learn and use…

  1. Choose your voice tone: Lots of studies have been carried out into what constitutes a ‘credible’ voice tone and what constitutes an ‘approachable’ tone. If you listen to Obama or Clinton they are masters at the ‘credible’. Their voice tone is less varied (more monotone) and often ends on a downward inflection. Use this tone to help communicate credibility when you need to – at the start of a presentation, for example.
  2. Eye contact: It is easy to focus on the ‘friendly’ people in the audience or the ones who we feel are the ‘decision makers’. Great presenters give eye contact to lots of people in the audience rather than favoring just one or two. Make sure that your eye contact is long enough to establish a ‘connection’ but short-enough not to be considered as overly interested in them! Fleeting eye contact is not helpful – it can come across that you have something to hide or are nervous. 2 seconds per person is about right (as long as you don’t go sequentially along each row of the audience in turn!).
  3. The power of the pause: Both Obama and Clinton are masters of the pause. They use silence to make a point and further build credibility in their message. Also, you will often see that they freeze their body language when they pause so that they are still in the silence and only moving their heads/body when they are talking. Again, this puts attention on the pause and helps build credibility. Don’t worry, people will not notice this or stare at you as if you are some kind of lunatic!
  4. Control the Q&A session: Think about the worst questions you could be asked following your sales presentation and have the answers – don’t be caught out! If you are likely to get a few questions, put them on a flipchart before you answer them. If you have limited time availability this technique enables you to choose the questions that you answer and the order that you answer them in!
  5. Finish with your summary: I have seen lots of salespeople answer the questions and then simply walk off! What happens if your last question was a real tough one that you didn’t have a great answer for? What are the audience left thinking? Exactly! So, after you have taken the questions, you finish with your final summary of the key points of your presentation. That way, you control how the meeting is closed – not the participants!

By the way, the use of pauses and the differences between ‘credible’ and ‘approachable’ voice tones, along with other tips to create influence with others, is covered in a book by Michael Grinder (for those of you with NLP knowledge, he is John Grinders brother!) called ‘Charisma – The Art of Relationships’.

I am sure that there are lots of other tips that you can come up with…