Step By Step Sales Process - A Review Of The 16 Principles Of Influence In Sales

This blog article is a review of the 16 Principles Of Influence In Sales as outlined by Mike Schultz & John Doerr. After reading their article I thought it was a great step by step sales process review that I could benefit from by thinking about how I approach each principle. I thought my readers might be able to benefit as well so I have have included the article with my own comments for each of the 16 principles.



Below is the original article (which can be found at My comments are provided below each principle and highlighted in orange.


The 16 Principles of Influence are listed somewhat in the order that they flow in sales. Note that they don’t cover how to succeed in each one in the original article. Instead they outline for you what they are. This allows you can ask yourself, “Do I need to be better in this principle?” and look into it more deeply. I have done this for each principle and added some commentary on how to succeed at each principle.


Principle 1. Attention: Top sellers capture the attention of busy prospects. They are memorable in prospecting and in sales conversations. They break through the noise. They highlight their differentiation. You can’t influence someone if they’re focused on something else.

I can definitely do a better job here. I think that some ways to capture attention are to make a great first impression and start with something interesting like a story or a statement that begs further explanation. Another tactic I often use when contacting someone over the phone is to ask for help, as people love to help when we are asked to do so.

Principle 2. Curiosity: Once you have someone’s attention, the easiest thing to do is to lose it. Your goal is to pique and hold the prospect’s curiosity. Curiosity is a powerful concept. People know what they have, but they want to know what they are missing. Give them the sense they might be missing something and they’ll naturally want to know more.

What I have had my most success with keeping prospects attention and stirring curiosity is tell them a little about the product or service but not telling them everything or how it works. When I do this I usually talk about how they can benefit but instead of making statements of how they can benefit I ask questions that will lead them to realizing the benefits I want them to see. I have found asking questions to be very useful in stirring curiosity.

Principle 3. Desire: Desire is the gap between where someone is and where he wants to be. The more you can stoke someone’s desire to change his reality, the more you’ll be able to influence him. When buyers start to see what’s in it for them, they start to become emotionally involved in wanting whatever it is.

I think the best example of how I evoke desire is I often try and have the client tell me what the product or service I am selling will either save them or make them. I try to lead them to put a number to this figure. This way if the service I am selling will save them 10 hours which is worth $100 dollars and the services only costs $50, it makes the service very desirable to the buyer

Principle 4. Envy: Desire is powerful. Envy is desire with a turbo boost. If your prospect wants something they don’t have, their desires will drive them. If they want something that other people have, their unhappiness will eat away at them until they get it.

I don't know if this falls under envy or not but I have had some success when dealing with prospects when I tell them a story of how another similar company benefited from using the product or service I am selling. Sometimes even just mentioning a name of the company and stating that they recently purchase the product or service is enough to entice the prospect to take action. I have found when you state a competitors name it has the most affect. Stating the names of large well known companies also has a very positive effect but it does not have as much impact as stating a competitors name.

Principle 5. Emotional journey: People forget what you tell them, but they remember how they feel. Top sales people, leaders, and professionals take prospects on an emotional journey, often through stories that evoke emotional responses. This emotional journey helps prospects to feel the pain of where they are, and feel what the happiness and fulfillment will be like in their better future.

When selling I always try and be friendly and easy to deal with. My hope is that this will create good feelings and specifically comfort, enjoyment, happiness and a sense of safety. I think where I can improve in this area is to be more energetic and enthusiastic because enthusiasm is contagious.

Principle 6. Belief: You’ll have maximum ability to influence people when prospects believe that things could be better, should be better, and can actually get better if they buy from you. The more convinced they are that your solution will succeed, the more willing they will be to move forward.

Again for this I think I revert back to stories. I try to give specific examples of other buyers I have helped. Telling the buyer I am dealing with, a real life story of what was the situation before the other client purchased and what was the result afterwards. I got this from my Dale Carnegie training and always focus on making the stories as specific and vivid as I can so that they resonate with the prospective buyer.

Principle 7. Justification: People buy with their hearts and justify with their heads. Even if you are able to capture the hearts of your buyers (through the emotional journey you take them on), if you can’t make the ROI case for working with you, you won’t make the sale.

This I agree with and I don't. Often necessities you don't need to make an ROI for, or at least that has been the experience in my case. The other instance is where someone comes to you looking to buy. At that point they have already made up their mind they are going to buy, you just have to show them and convince them that you can provide what they are looking for. On the other hand if you are trying to sell to a manager or business owner that has not contacted you and has not determined they want to buy, proving an ROI is critical. Actually proving an ROI is usually easy though. All you need to do is show the extra profit generated or costs saved and compare that to the product or service you are selling. It is just a matter of remembering to do this.

Principle 8. Trust: The principle of trust works closely with the principle of belief. Belief is faith that something will work, trust is faith in you. Trust is the foundation of the sale. No trust, no sale. (And, with trust, don’t just try to gain it. Deserve it.)

I think the best way to build trust is to demonstrate consistency. When you say you will follow up later in the day, make sure you do. I am surprised how many people don't follow up with me when they say they will. I think by simply being consistent in your communication you can build trust quickly because so few people today are consistent in what they say and do.

Principle 9. Stepping Stones: Once people get on a path, they’re much more likely to stay on that path. People are driven to be consistent. So if you can get them to try or buy something from you once, even if it’s small, they’re much more likely to buy again. Think of buying as a leap of faith. If you’re always trying to sell something “big” then that leap can be too much of a jump for many buyers to take. You can shorten the leap of faith with stepping stones, getting people to start working with you in small doses and with less risky propositions.

I found this out very quickly working with my first client. We offered a free trial of his service and our closing rate with prospects who accepted the free trial versus those that did not is probably 3 times as high. That is why currently we always push to try and get them to accept a free trial instead of any other next step like a quote or sending information.

Principle 10. Ownership: Until an individual takes ownership over decisions, actions, and results, your ability to influence him or her is limited. Your job is to make it the buyer’s agenda to move forward, not your own.

This one is very hard to do, I have yet to come up with any ideas of how to make this happen. This is something I am going to have to think about more. If anyone has any ideas send me a note.

Principle 11. Involvement: When you have a hand in creating something, you’re more likely to be a passionate advocate for its success. Buying is the same way. Involve your buyers in the selling process, and they’ll be much more attached to seeing the solution come to life.

I think the idea here is to get them somehow involved either in creating something or selecting different options. I think a free trial could fall into this category as well. I am very much a strong supporter of free trials as I have seen them be very successful.

Principle 12. Desire for Inclusion: People don’t want to be left out. They want to feel included. If the best companies are purchasing a certain technology, they want to be in on it. If a new management method is sweeping the nation, people don’t want to feel left out. The more you can help buyers feel included, the more they’ll want to move forward.

Again for creating desire for inclusion I like to drop names and tell stories. Sometimes I also ramble off how many other companies have purchased the product or service I am selling. I will say something like "over 300 companies purchase their coffee from .....". When I use this tactic I always gets a positive reaction.

Principle 13. Scarcity: People value rarity and don’t want to miss out on an opportunity. Rainmakers highlight differentiation, and make sure that buyers know when they may miss out on an opportunity.

I definitely use this tactic. In the marketing materials I will often highlight that something is available in limited quantity or only good for a set amount of time. I have recently started a new process as well where any quote I provide I state the pricing is only good for 2 weeks, which creates a sense of scarcity and urgency.

Principle 14. Likeability: People buy from people they like. They interact with people they like. Likeability creates and enhances opportunity for conversations at all stages. And, as we know, conversations are at the heart of sales success.

Again I just try and be nice, courteous, and try to treat everyone I deal with like they are a special person. I try to treat them the same way I would the Queen of England or the President of the United States. I think of it as trying to offer the best service, similar to the best waiter you have every had. I still to this day remember two guys who created a commercial for me at one of my jobs. Their names were Dave & Dave, they treated my like royalty and I would buy from them again in a heart beat.

Principle 15. Indifference: Indifference is emotional detachment to the outcome of making the sale. Indifference is often best understood in light of its opposite: neediness. The more you seem like you needthe sale, the less likely a buyer will view you as a peer, and the more difficult it will be to sell.

I have learned that this is definitely true. I can remember a specific example where I let the prospect engage with a competitor without following up extensively or getting aggressive. Instead I acted calm, like I did not need the sale. I provided all the information she requested when she needed it but did not do anything that would suggested that I desperately needed the sale. I got the sale over the competitor. I am getting better at broadcasting indifference but I still need to remind my self from time to time and work on really exuding this. .

Principle 16. Commitment: Rainmakers are great at getting buyers to agree to next steps. Written and public commitments are stronger than verbal and private commitments. The best sellers ask for commitment at the right time, get signatures, and get buyers to communicate commitments publicly.

I can see how getting a written or public commitment can be more powerful. I would say I do not utilize this enough and will work to include this more often. I think what I will do is ask for an email confirming their commitment or for larger sales, take a prepared contract along so that I can get a signature on the spot.



Other Related Article You Might Be Interested In

1. 7 Keys To A Successful Sales Meeting

2. Secrets Of Closing A Sale

3. Sales Performance Evaluation

4. Is Cold Calling Effective


My name is Chris R. Keller. I work at Profitworks Small Business Services helping various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener Ontario generate new customers. Feel free to connect with me on Google+ or if you are just interested in getting new customers for your B2B small businesses enter your email in the box provided below and click the "Send Me Free Updates" button.


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