Ah, influencers. They seem so modern, right? As though spawned by LinkedIn and Instagram — or at least no further back than Myspace.
But influencers must go as far back as communication — the first humans who mastered that probably earned a loyal following and thousands.
Maybe a bunch of supportive handprints under their cave-paintings.
It may have looked different, but I’ll bet they did it the exact same way the greatest influencers do it now — empathy, understanding and knowing when to shut up and listen.
These are the skills Bob Burg says any great influencer always needs.
Bestselling co-author of the Go-Giver Book series, Bob came on the show to talk about the latest in the series, “The Go-Giver Influencer,” which looks at what makes the greatest influencers become so influential.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- What politics and introverts can teach us about communication
- Why asking questions, empathy and understanding are tools every influencer needs
- Why great influencers don’t push, they pull
- Why nobody will ever buy from you just because you have a quota
What politics and introverts can teach us about communication
Bob: There’s a false premise: Those who like to talk make the best salespeople.
I think people who are introverted have a natural advantage when it comes to sales because they put the focus on the other person.
Think of the political situation today. It used to be “I’m right, you’re wrong.” Now, that was never ideal, but it was doable. It was workable.
Now it’s different. Now it’s “I’m right, you’re evil.”
If you believe you’re right and the other person is wrong, you still engage with that person. You can still be friends and respect other aspects of that person even if you don’t necessarily agree with their stance.
When it’s “I’m right, you’re evil,” people won’t engage with someone — because they’re evil. They have no redeeming qualities.
But 99.9% of people out there aren’t evil. They just see the world in a certain way that directs their beliefs. What we’ve got to understand is people define freedom, liberty, health and prosperity in different ways.
If we see that, we can ask how they are defining this. Now we can check our premises. We can ask questions, listen and understand what their intent is and why.
Be human: Ask questions, listen, seek empathy
Bob: The reason John and I wrote this book and put an emphasis on influence is because of the way, and not just in politics, but even in business people communicate.
For example, in the story, there was Jackson and there was Jillian and they were trying to come together on a business deal. Now the interesting thing is that each of them had what the other wanted.
So, it should have been a business marriage made in heaven. And yet every conversation they got further apart.
They’re focused on themselves and why they think the way they think as opposed to trying to really get into the head of the other person.
And that’s really what we’re talking about in this book.
Great influencers don’t push, they pull
Bob: We can define influence as, simply, the ability to move a person or persons to a desired action. Usually within the context of a specific goal.
That’s its definition. But that’s not its substance. That’s not its essence.
The essence of influence is pull. Pull, as opposed to push. As in, how far can you push a rope?
And the answer is not very far, at least not very fast or very effectively, which is why great influencers don’t push.
Great influencers understand not just on an intellectual level, but at the level of the heart, Dale Carnegie’s underlying premise in his landmark classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
Mr. Carnegie wrote that, ultimately, people do things for their own reasons. Not your reasons.
Nobody’s going to buy from you because you have a quota
Bob: People aren’t going to buy from you because you need the money. And they’re not even going to buy from you because you’re a really nice person.
They’re going to buy from you because they believe they will be better off by doing so than by not doing so. And that’s the only reason why we should ever expect someone to, to buy from us.
When we take Mr. Carnegie’s advice and we understand that about people doing things for their reasons, then the genuine influencers ask themselves questions.
“How does what I’m asking this person to do align with their goals? How does it align with their wants, with their needs or with their values? What problems of theirs am I helping them to solve? How am I helping their life to be better? How am I helping them to feel better about themselves?”
When we ask ourselves these questions thoughtfully, intelligently, genuinely, authentically — not as a way to manipulate another human being into doing our will, but as a way of building everyone up in the process — we come a lot closer to earning that person’s commitment than when we try to depend on some type of compliance or manipulation.
That’s really what it’s all about.