Perhaps it’s not politically correct to talk about the role of power in business. We all know, however, that dealing with and wielding power is a day-to-day reality for sales reps.
Step one is understanding the four fundamental types of power:
- Position Power – derives from rank and/or authority. The title “CEO” carries more power than “VP”. Many travelers these days are not at all pleased with the new-found position power of the TSA airport security screeners.
- Personal Power – Confident, likeable, persuasive charisma gets things done.
- Referent Power – Who do you know? Who knows you? Every time we use a reference account, or the line, “Joe Smith suggested that I contact you,” we are using the “reflected influence” of referent power.
- Expert Power – Knowledge really is power!
Step two is assessing the power bases of your prospects and adjusting your sales strategy accordingly. For example, if the decision maker’s/influencer’s main power base is “Expert”, you probably don’t want to use a “dazzle ’em with your brilliance” approach. (Even if you really are more expert!!!) It might be more effective, for example, to describe the resources you can bring to bear to implement your proposed system. In other words, demonstrate how your referent power can further enhance the prospect’s expertise.
Step three involves assessing and enhancing your own current power base. Rank them top to bottom. For example, your sequence might be Expert, Personal, Position, Referent. Your plan could be to capitalize on your current “expert” strength through continued study, research and dialogue while building up your base of contacts to increase your referent power.
Like it our not, power is a real and vital driver of business decisions. Understand the four power bases. Don’t fight your customers’ power – use what you have to help them exploit what they have and shore up their weaknesses. Focus on enhancing your own power.