50 Shades Of Social Power

“The woman who does not require validationfrom anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” - Mohadesa Najumi

Love, lust, closing massive business deals. What do they all have in common? The desire to close; the desire to be desired. The human condition... desire and fear pushing against each other... mucking up the lot!

As aspirational sales leaders, we can't deny we play in a world where a powerful, select group of people make or break us. Buyers. We rise and fall over a commission based on our ability to persuade, align, and collaborate with a power-base of masters of the universe in hard-to-get corner offices, chased by everyone.

We feel the sting of lost love, the sting of cutting rejection when we're dismissed after working so painfully hard for so long to seek the affections of the men and women who can, with the flick of a pen, set us free. But maybe we're working too hard, perhaps going about it all wrong, because we're not understanding what they're seeking. What do you get for the one who already has everything?

The most powerful people in the world are desperate to have their power stripped away.

The dynamics of power are a zero sum game. Whether you'll acknowledge it or not, someone always has the upper hand. In my career, domination and aggression have seemed like a red herring and those that employ that tactic may win temporarily, only to see scorched Earth on the back-end of the deal.

I prefer to be cunning and wily like a fox. Not in a negative way but you've always got to be scheming to defeat the competition and apathy of the customer. So it's no secret that Jim Holden talked about the habits of a fox that will play dead to throw off its prey and even cover it's own tracks or walk into the water so fire ants will crawl off its back.

But this article is somewhat about the New Power Base Selling by the great Jim Holden which was originally entitled, "Confessions of an Ivy League Street Fighter," a title I like even better.

To gain power, you must take it away. To take it away, you first must make them think they've taken it from you.
Behold: 50 Shades of Social Power

Let's walk through this scenario. We talked about how closing enterprise accounts is a lot like hitting on the hottest one at the bar. It's a game that few can win because they have to reverse the polarity to attract a butterfly but everyone is building a bigger, better, faster net to go after their targets. That's exactly why Marketing needs to move from PUSH to PULL and Seth Godin made world history by breaking through the Marketing Industrial Complex with permission-based marketing.

There is a dance that happens (in multiple dimensions and with surprising players) when you're in the throes of a heated, highly contested deal; when your competitors will make near fatal mistakes and you can swoop in and take the prize right our from under their nose.

“ Never interfere with  your enemy when he is making a mistake.” - Napoleon Bonaparte

And what is that mistake? They are going to get lazy mainly about one thing... showing far too much interest in closing - sealing the deal. As they show weakness, they acknowledge the power of the prospective buyer and thus have run the sequence backward pushing them away. Although they expertly displayed power to open the deal, most sellers then display weakness, hunger, and repel the client, snapping the line only to free the prized Marlin prey.

The correct approach is a confident, disinterested, consultative path where perhaps you look like the fox, innocuous, playing dead... at first! But then when they let you into the meeting on the premise of purely consultative, that's when you craftily engineer your own influence and ultimately seize power.

Remember the cardinal rule, Vampires have to be let in.

Call the baby ugly, grimace at the annual report, have a no BS policy, brass tacks chat about that 800 lb Gorilla lurking in the corner of the room. Transparency and truth delivered respectfully and powerfully unlock the keys to the kingdom of powerful hearts and mind. There is a paradox in the Challenger approach. You looked weak, they amused you and thought they could take your power - but psyche - you took there's. Clinch. Hilarious videos here.... George Costanza Meets Don Draper!

The powerful want to be set free by NOT being in control for once. Enter the trusted advisor and the customer is alas, in good hands.

So that is the true anatomy of the close. There are many undertones and overtones to this article. You've gotta be willing to be the wolf in sheep's clothing. If they show interest, pull back - play hard to get. If they pull back, display detachment - again they will become interested.

But here's the deeper way to win. Actually decide that you're okay to lose, fine not to make the commission check, happy to say, "next." Literally, in your deepest heart of hearts, make peace. Strip line the Marlin, let it run, let them think it's all going to be okay. From this vantage point, you want for nothing, need for nothing - you'll become infinitely interesting.

Make them chase you, they'll close on you. Until the prospect is pulling from the front, moving urgently to the next meeting, asking for paperwork, you're not dancing together. The foreplay of a close is this power struggle. Just like Salsa, the synchronized rhythm of the feet in counterpart is everything. One partner must lead but that leadership can switch.

Power dancing back and forth: such is enterprise sales.

This is what vendors who will never be partners don't get. Beating their chests in arrogance doesn't close deals. Self-assuredness will not get you there. This is a cryptic set of advice but it's just like dating, again.

There is a fundamental reason unattractive people often land stunning mates. Hint: it's not money. It's understanding the power dynamics: how to give power, how to take it away, how to dance the forbidden dance. That, my friends, is a very grey area indeed. Do I have your attention?

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.