Companies rely on their sales teams as principal growth engines. Without these departments converting leads into actual customers, businesses would have very little avenue for growth. Thus, many organizations are actively looking for possible ways to improve the results of their sales teams – if these people are more successful, then the company directly benefits.

So, what lies at the core of a successful sales person? Although there are many different answers to this question, there is no escaping the fact that influence plays a pivotal role in achieving success. The salesperson who can leverage influence successfully is often better able to navigate tricky scenarios and achieve the intended results of conversations with prospective clients and customers.

A natural influencer is a master in the art of negotiation. As Entrepreneur Magazine noted, negotiating is critical to the success of a company, as poor negotiation skills can cripple a firm and contribute to the loss of key customers. Conversely, excellent negotiators help groups get around obstacles that may otherwise result in lost sales.

Although many firms think negotiating is a natural talent, it is actually a learned practice. Not only does it take experience to learn how to leverage influence in negotiations, it also takes a certain amount of training as well. Emotion, luck and magic do not factor into the recipe for successful negotiations.

“While you have the power to influence the negotiation process in your favor, your goal should be to secure a good deal without extracting the last pound of flesh from the other party,” explained Entrepreneur contributor Michael Sanibel. “This is especially true if you will be negotiating with the same party on a recurring basis. The most effective negotiators are professionals who know their business and don’t let personalities and irrational behavior interfere with their mission.”

Influence is not manipulation
Although many people talk about “wielding” influence like some sort of manipulative weapon, it is important to realize that influence is actually more simply about understanding the needs of the other party and communicating what the salesperson thinks is the best solution for everyone involved.  Influence skills are the behaviors that help salespeople actually implement the various stages of the negotiation process. It is easy for people to think of only their own needs, an influencer can help move the conversation past that.

As Business 2 Community noted, relationships are the “currency of influence and success in business.” A healthy relationship, whether in the office or in people’s personal lives, does not thrive on manipulation. Influence should be used as a tool to streamline conversations and accomplish goals in a positive way, as this can lead to a better working relationship with clients and customers.