The availability of information through the advancement of technology has increased corporate buying power, resulting in the selling of B2B financial solutions becoming more challenging.   If your competitors have access to the same cutting-edge technology and talent pools as you, how do you obtain an advantage for winning new business? When survival relies on your ability to win over the competition, how do you become faster, sharper and stronger?  How do you create an edge to ensure you’re an asset not an overhead within your organisation?  In the animal world, the sloth is slow, vulnerable and exposed, making it prey to big cats and snakes.  Whereas the cheetah reacts with lightning speed via natural skills that have been honed to perfection through extensive practice. 

Technology can be a double-edged sword. Whilst increasing access to information, modern day tech can limit face-to-face interactions, damaging our ability to develop and utilise interpersonal skills. The Applied Influence Group conducted primary research which revealed that irrespective of how far technology advances, high stakes deals continue to be made face-to-face. Interpersonal skills such as empathy, trust and the ability to create compelling visions were found to be key components of success regarding winning business and securing new contracts.  Therefore, the key for creating a competitive edge can be acquired through people, specifically the ability to influence at an interpersonal level.

During our former lives within the world of specialist Military Intelligence, the Applied Influence Group discovered that the secret to successful high stakes influence challenges was through sharpening our interpersonal skills to an elite level.  We became highly effective through focused planning and implementation, the result of which was saving lives within hostile global operating environments.  We found through a collective experience of over 100,000 hours influencing the toughest of adversaries, that what actually worked to secure deals was relationships and emotions.  The secret was to gain effective knowledge then repeat many, many times until the skills became second nature and could be adapted with precision in every influence situation.

The Applied Influence Group create influence campaign strategies for our clients, which form solutions to the people challenges that underly business opportunities and risks.  One component of the strategy is effective implementation, which can be broken down into three areas; understand, communicate and influence.  Within each area, effective frameworks are used to apply influence tactics within the wider campaign strategy.

Understand:

A key element of an influence strategy is gaining situational awareness through fact finding, intelligence gathering and interaction planning.  This involves identifying the true nature of problems through cognitive empathy and perspective taking, essentially working out how a client defines value and measures success.

Communicate:

Understanding people allows you to communicate in a style they will understand, as well as seeing through façades and smoke-screen behaviour. Everything is personal, therefore interpersonal communication must be authentic, showing genuine emotion to connect at a personal level.  In essence, messaging must be delivered that makes sense to them, not necessarily how you personally see the world.

Influence:

In order to establish trust, it is vital to demonstrate confidence, credibility and authority within the topic.  Effective messaging regarding fears, desires and morals is crafted to land with an individual’s perspective, compelling them to take action.  Due to information gained through concurrent understanding, value can be articulated with precision through knowing how a potential client perceives and measures success.

The key takeaway being that regardless of how far technology advances, if a deal is important it will be conducted face-to-face.  Sophisticated frameworks and techniques can be used to practice and accelerate skills, although ultimately becoming highly effective at influencing people is achieved through the expression of primitive human behaviours. 

The sloth is a target for predators, whereas the cheetah is efficient and effective through application of well drilled techniques, formed from natural abilities. Which one are you?