Are stalkers ever welcome? Well…
At home, I am constantly stalked by my yellow Lab, Teddy. He’s one of those canines wanting to be near me at every chance, to the point of being really annoying.
Being stalked never sounds like fun, especially if a human is the stalker. But let me offer an exception of sorts . Leaders definitely want to be followed. When you try to influence someone, it sure helps when they agree to cooperate.
Strategic Account Managers are by definition leaders in companies they represent. They are assigned key responsibilities and have access to considerable resources. But SAMs must often lead from the classic position of influencing without direct authority.
So how do SAMs influence coworkers, partners and of course, customers? I think it starts by knowing what you are up against. This influence assessment tool by leadership consultant, Jim Clemmer, seems helpful to me in showing what you are up against in being influential. On a five-point scale where: 1 is extremely weak, 2 is fairly weak, 3 is moderate, 4 is fairly strong, and 5 is extremely strong, score yourself on each attribute for a situation you face:
- my clarity around what a successful outcome would look like
- my understanding of their position and win (how they'll benefit?)
- my persuasion and communication skills
- my timing and the fit of my proposed action with the situation
- my tone and approach (will I increase or decrease defensiveness and conflict?)
- my genuine desire for a win/win outcome
- my credibility with this person or group
- my passion and commitment (including persistence)
- our levels of mutual trust
- the strength of our relationship
- how well I've covered the bases with other key influencers and built their support
- my appointed role, position, and authority
Now add your total across items. Scoring 45 points or higher means you’re in a strong position to influence that person or group in that situation. A score of 25 - 44 is less strong, and you might want to wait for a better time or strengthen a few of your lowest areas (which may take some time and hard work). If you score 24 points or lower, your ability to influence is very low. Increasing your leadership in that situation will clearly take some work and time.
The criteria made two things clear to me -- that influencing skills must be developed, and that relationships and trust must be built with those we are trying to reach. As Socrates said, "Let him that would move the world, first move himself".