Rough Notes on Influencing
What is Effective Influencing
When the person we want to influence (the client) gets what they want by doing what we want, it is a win-win.
How do you do it?
You build trust so the client is comfortable talking to you openly. You listen and ask questions to understand what the client needs. Then you float a proposal you can both say “Yes” to. The proposal will help the client and give you what you want. You both need to be clear about what will happen in practice. This agreement is your contract. Finally, you will want to agree on what to do next. This transition could be follow-up work or doing similar work elsewhere.
Listen, be attentive and interested in the client. Respond to the client’s style. If they are friendly, be friendly. If the client is busy, respond quickly. Simple courtesy, like thanking them for talking to you and agreeing on how long you have, will help.
Take your time with this. Listen to understand, ask open questions, and summarise what you hear to check you have understood your client’s situation, needs and preferences. Even very senior people like you to listen to them. The more you know the client, the easier influencing is.
Float a Proposal
Now you understand what the client needs, so you can propose something to help them get what they want, which also gets you what you want. Make your proposal in a way that the client can develop it. “Floating” a proposal like this means the client has an investment in it and will want to make it work. You both say, “Yes.”
Reach a Clear Agreement.
You must agree on what you both will do, how you will do it, who will take part, where it will happen, what it will cost if money is involved, and how long it will take. It would help if you also talked about intangibles like access, feedback, support, and anything necessary for the work to succeed.
Finally, talk about what happened. If the project was a success, what else does the client want? Who else might be interested in similar work? You might want to do more work if the project was partially successful. Revisit the steps above and float a new proposal.