Here’s a quick and true story about how you can influence someone who you see as a higher level of authority than you. In this specific case, if you want to impress a CEO or successful businessperson. We just need to go back to 2011 and I know this story to be true, because I’m the person who was trying to influence the CEO. I was living in London for about a year and I was determined to make a name for myself.
So far, things hadn’t gone too well.
My girlfriend of 2 years dumped me by email and I got fired from my management job (all in a very short space of time). I decided the best way to move forward was to bet on myself and start approaching companies to see if they needed (and wanted) sales training. I walked into hundreds of companies and countless times I was met with “no thanks” or “leave some info” and then to hear nothing.
Imagine, you’re wanting to help companies grow their sales, with your sales training, but you can’t even sell… Your own sales training lol. The imposter syndrome started to kick in, I was feeling like a fraud and even my family and friends started to point out I couldn’t even sell my own sales training.
Then, one day I received an email from a CEO of a recruitment company saying he liked my persistence and invited me to meet for a coffee to discuss if there was any training I could do to help his team. We met in West London, sat in a fancy coffee shop where they take your
order, you don’t have to wait in line. After a generally good meeting, the bill came and all I remember are two things:
1) It was about £17.00
2) I only had £17.50 ish to my entire name
Without giving him the chance, I offered to pay for the coffee (and croissants) and thanked him for his
time. I had no idea though that my Oyster card had no credit. Arriving back at the station, it scanned red and the barrier stayed firmly closed. Using my powers of persuasion, I tried to negotiate and explain my case to the TFL workers. They weren’t amused and just pointed me to the closest ATM.
A 5 hour walk from Shepherds Bush area to Edgware in North London (if you know London then you know how long this will take).
Fast forward a week or maybe two, I get an email from the CEO. His email was brief and to the point:
“Great to meet you last week, I think there’s some potential, let’s meet again to get the ball rolling.”
It didn’t turn into my biggest contract, I wish I could tell you his company turned into a six figure client. I can tell you though it paid for the coffee many times over.
But this isn’t the point.
The biggest memory and life changer for me was walking home that day after the meeting. I wasn’t once annoyed at myself. I didn’t feel stupid or like a fraud.
Quite the opposite.
I felt like I was finally manning up. I knew I didn’t place someone’s authority or financial status above me getting the bill (by the way, you’d be amazed how MOST of us do though). I remember clearly thinking how in that moment, I made the decision to VALUE the right thing, which was being generous.
Not because I’d get something back. But because I was finally living up to my desired identity.
My desired identity of:
– Being a man of influence
– Being generous
– Being financially free
– Being an authority in my own space
– The list goes on
Since this meeting 10 years ago, I’ve sat on the other side of the table quite a few times and it always amazes me to hear most people’s attitudes. One example is when someone reached out to me to ask how they could become a sales trainer as they had followed me online for a few years and loved my content. They signed off with how they were DETERMINED to be training hundreds of people per year in sales.
I asked them if they wanted to meet me in London and we could discuss. They quickly replied saying “it’s a 2 hour train ride, can we just Skype instead?”
Naturally, I declined.
The last I heard, he’s still working for his Dad at a car mechanic workshop. I’m nothing special and I don’t require special attention. I will say though, if you want to influence anyone, you have to be the one to buy the coffee, don’t expect it from the person you want something from. Of course, there’s levels to this and it’s not all about buying your way to persuasion. But my point is, if you’re struggling to influence your target market or a particular person…
Perhaps you’re looking at things back to front. Maybe, just maybe you’re thinking about what they can do for you, instead of what you can do for them. When you combine what you can do for them and you stay within your authority, this is the perfect combination.
Be the first to buy the coffee.