Influence is the most profitable skill in business. Influence is what marketers use to persuade consumers to make phone calls, purchases, and sign up for email newsletters. For decades, this art of influence, or persuasion, has been the source of outrageous success in all industries across the world.

The level of persuasion implemented by top marketing firms is worth millions and billions of dollars to corporate clients. The high profitability is one of the top reasons adults go back to school to get a marketing degree.

Marketing aside, influence is also used on a daily basis with coworkers, bosses, clients, and even investors. Put simply, the ability to influence is a critical skill everyone in business needs to master, regardless of their position or rank.

The ability to influence helps others see your vision

After sharing a vision with your boss or coworkers, your ability to influence them to see your vision will determine the amount of support you receive.

In a team setting, most visions require support from others to succeed. To see your vision through, you need to persuade others to see what you see with excitement. Chances are, they don’t already see your vision. To influence a new perspective, you must first understand their current perspective.

For example, perhaps you have keen insight regarding a mistake that’s costing your company big bucks every day. You have a solution, but your boss doesn’t even see the problem. To get your boss on board with your solution, you first need to make him or her aware of the problem and then present the solution.

The problem is, your boss may not want to hear the problem or solution. You’ll need to use persuasion to capture and hold your boss’ attention long enough to explain the situation and persuade him or her to trust that you’ve found a genuine solution.

While strong skills of influence can benefit you individually as in the scenario above, they can also benefit your entire team when you’re in a position of leadership.

Influence and persuasion are essential for great leadership

Leadership in business requires more people skills than technical skills. Influence and persuasion are the most important people skills you can develop. Yes, it’s important to understand financial expertise and business acumen, but leaders need the ability to influence a team in the right direction. To influence an entire team, a leader needs to understand human behavior and have solid communication skills.

If you’re looking for ways to acquire the ability to influence in business, take an MBA essential course. Ultimately, the success of every business rises and falls according to its leaders’ ability to influence within the company and without.

Attempts to influence – a word of caution

Influencing people is an art form and should be done swiftly without any jagged edges or exposed seams. If anything feels forced or contrived, people will pick up on your intentions not as a natural influence, but as a demand or imposition.

Perceived demands destroy the ability to influence another person. People naturally don’t want to do things when they feel pressured. Successfully influencing others involves convincing others to behave or think a certain way as if it was their own idea. Rather than forcing new ideas, influence plants those ideas in people’s minds, waters them like seeds, and when the time is right – they sprout.

Resistance is the antithesis of influence

Resistance is the antithesis of influence. Concerning this point, former Forbes contributor Cheryl Conner left us all with an important piece of advice:

“Avoid Imposing Values. You will never succeed in building influence if you are simply preaching your values or product or system to others. In fact, you’ll often provoke resistance. Instead, presenting the possibilities in a way that invites your contacts or audience to take a step closer to your belief if they choose leads people to follow. This may come about as naturally as their observation of you and their curiosity about what you are doing and why.”

If you’re trying to influence someone and you feel resistance, pause. You must dissolve resistance before influence can be effective.

For further study and practice

To master the art of influence, read the following books by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. – a classic master of persuasion:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

To master the art of influence, read the following books by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. – a classic master of persuasion:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade