How to influence today’s knowledge worker


Brodie and Florence are my two Italian Spinone dogs and like to be told what to do. They will obey their master’s voice. But fellow humans don’t.

Nobody wants to be told what to do; customers don’t want to be presented with old style sales techniques that push features and benefits. The modern knowledge worker will not tolerate being told, particularly the younger generation – our Generation Y’s.  Everyone wants “buy in” and involvement when it comes to decisions, modern firms ensure engagement.

So how do we influence your customers, team members and colleagues?

Let me explain how.

Firstly, fathom out what your intentions are when it comes to influencing. Do you genuinely want the person to go with your idea or force them to accept it? Then decide if it’s influencing you want to do because there are four choices here. To:

Persuade – here you will change their minds, convince them of the idea through your willpower. It’s not always successful and fairly short term. Persuading is overt, i.e. using techniques that can be clearly seen coming and often avoided by savvy customers. It can be seen as “pushy” or controlling if done in a clumsy manner.

Manipulate – this is deceitful, controlling and directing.  You leave them with little choice. It creates a negative emotion and definitely will be short term. It leaves people bruised.

Negotiate or create a win:win. Both parties win but this normally involves some compromise.

Influence – now we’re getting there. Influencing helps the customer to change their feelings about something. You win over their minds but also their hearts; they will voluntarily change their mind. Long term but can take a whole lot longer to achieve. It is covert, in other words, it relies on methods that are not clearly seen, often dealing with the subconscious or influencing on a subconscious level. It’s subtle.

Let me show you how you can influence.  We’re all aware that people make decisions on an emotional level and then justify that decision in a more logical fashion. There have been plenty of studies proving this. The point is that we need to appeal to people’s emotion rather than their logic or rational brain.

Back in 2008 I failed to get to the Glastonbury Festival which I’ve been able to attend every year for quite some time. Dreadfully disappointed I was, especially as the festival approached, and the TV and the newspapers were saying what a brilliant Glasto it was going to be and one of my favourite bands – Blur – were going to headline.

So I decided to record every piece of Glastonbury that the BBC could show and watch the recordings over and over again as a consolation. The BBC probably show about 50 hours in total of the festival so using Sky Plus was out of the question since it doesn’t have the capacity.

I picked up a new Archos Personal Video Recorder to attach to the TV to ensure I didn’t miss one showing of the festival, and have the recordings as video files.

I’d cracked it – I could now relax and look forward to watching hour after hour of Glasto, whenever and wherever I liked.

Until my wife picked up the gadget and asked what on earth do we need this for as we’ve got Sky Plus.

Patiently awaiting an answer I told her. “Darling, we can use it to do other TV recordings that stay recorded forever and not get wiped off by our adorable children, we can record movies to watch later, we can use it to store photos when we’re on holiday this year when the camera card gets filled up, we can take it to your Mum’s this Christmas and show lots of photos of the children by rigging it up to their TV. I can even use it for work to show delegates videos of their presentation.”

Phew, that was close.

But the point is this. It was a purely logical justification. I brought on emotion and justified the expenditure on logic to my wife and myself.

Many persuaders or influencers fail because they lead too quickly

So how do we present to the emotional part of people’s brains? We bring in a little NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming – and yes, you can get jabs for that from all good chemists. NLP is a really cool set of tools for communicating with people and influencing is known simply as pace, pace, pace and lead.

Many persuaders or influencers fail because they lead too quickly. Leading is the convincing bit, showing the idea and promoting the benefits. This is too soon and is the reason why customers or team members will withdraw or disagree with your idea. You led too soon.

Pacing is getting on their level, observing physiology, understanding their world, building a strong rapport, seeing the argument from their side, working out what values and motives the person has, what makes them “tick”. Being intently curious achieves this. Leading involves suggesting, moving, proposing your idea.  But remember don’t do this too soon.

NLP has lots of technical terms to describe these things – mirroring, meta-programmes, calibration, neuro levels, anchoring, criteria elicitation and hypnosis – but fret not, I’m not going to refer to these too much, just explain how you can use the tools to influence – to pace, pace, pace and lead.

Now we know what modern influencing is all about, we can get on with learning how to do it even more.

And my two dogs, perhaps I could start using some of these tools to influence them rather than persuade? I wonder how they would react with “Brodie, how much pleasure would it give you for you to come here with me?” Maybe not. “Brodie…come”


About Author

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Paul Archer is an Online Sales Trainer, Speaker and Conference Host. He’d be happy to assist you in moving your workshops online during this challenging period. Email him on or LinkIn with him at The world of sales development has changed, many have missed this and boldly go on to run courses in the old-fashioned way. You want to develop your people – professional advisers, salespeople, coaches - and know there is a better way. He can help you. Think about music. I mean the music industry. In 2000 music became free, illegally at first with Napster, downloads became cheap as chips and streaming now cost $10 a month. In the same way, traditional self-development is now free. Everything is available online. Music artists and bands now make their money performing live. The live experience is what fans will pay money for. Recorded music is merely to create demand for the live experience. He brings his 35+ years of sales expertise and experience to you in two ways: Online, on-demand, just in time. He doesn’t run “just in case” training courses, they’re a thing of the past. Development should be “just in time”. Curated video, live videocasts and webinars, podcasts — books, articles and blog posts delivered via his Learning Platforms, YouTube or your in-house systems. Live. He can bring his expertise to your teams in live sessions, but these are rare now and need to be exceptional events. Conferences, seminars and events, he can educate, entertain them with my unique speaking style that has been enjoyed by thousands of sale people and advisers across the globe. Forty-five minutes, 2 hours, maybe a day – you choose. You figured there was a better way to develop your sales teams, you are right, and now you may want to make contact with him so you can talk further. You can Linkin with him at, and he’ll start a conversation or head to his YouTube Channel for more at email him at or phone him on +44 7702 341769, and where ever you are in the world he’d love to hear from you. Paul is a prolific writer and blogger – maintaining three blogs, with attracting thousands of hits from all over the world. He has published eight books. His latest tome "Pocketbook of Presentation Skills” was released in January 2020 and is available from Amazon. The third edition of his book “Train the Trainer of the 21st Century” is also available from Amazon.

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