Sales tips, leadership communication skills insight and more from Steve Giglio, sales training professional for more than 25 years.

How to Influence Others in Business

Above all else, it’s critical that you influence your clients and employees.

A lot is made of “influencers” on social media…those who amass huge followings and can impact a brand’s sales and public opinion simply through posting their opinions.

That’s not what we’re talking about here.

Post COVID, our responsibility in business is to genuinely and organically influence our clients/teams to enhance their commercial lives. It’s taken me a while to come to this recommendation but I believe it’s the most important gift we can give our clients and teams. If you’re really concerned about making a difference with your clients/colleagues and becoming/maintaining your position as a trusted confidante, you’ll action my advice.

Influence with Heart, Not Self-absorption

Many social media influencers are primarily concerned about their own image/brand. This level of self-absorption is poison in the business world. Any, and I mean ANY, act of selfish influencing will be discovered and given a scarlet letter. When a client thinks your recommendations are based on moving your (not their) agenda forward and making your company look good (again, not theirs), it won’t be long before you are shown the door. This level of accountability is ever-present…and you need to move through the world always aware of that.

Influencing Can Be Done Silently

The goal is to influence in such a way that you forge a positive/high touch experience such that your relationship transforms. And while our tendency may be to talk, give our opinion, and demonstrate our knowledge…many times, that’s not what’s needed to get the outcome you want.  For example…

..last month, while coaching an executive after she had gotten a difficult mid-year review, I realized the importance of listening to her more deeply and empathetically than ever. During her playback of the review, I listened for her level of responsibility. And while she did accept the feedback she had received, I realized I needed to extend the inquiry longer to listen for her desire/declaration to stop this set of behaviors. At this point, I noticed how much I wanted to take control of the conversation and just go to the “cure.” Sound familiar?

Instead, I chose to listen, remaining quiet enough so that she added several thoughts to her initial take on the review. A few short, well-timed probing questions helped. Finally, she arrived where I needed her to be when she said, “I just have to change this.”

Bingo! I got what I needed. I had influenced her! She signaled a willingness for a cure that would transform this behavior because she said so, not me.

Wait for the Signal, Then Act

I cannot stress this enough: your client/your colleague must say something that signals they are open to your recommendation. At this point, you have influenced them! And now you can move on with your solutions.

This is when you immediately forge a side-by-side relationship with them to mutually craft a cure. In this lies the honor of respecting another person and their frame of reference. And that’s a very positive influence.

Post-pandemic: Don’t Let Qualifiers Seep In!

As we all re-enter the world of meeting people, persuading them to understand and accept our recommendations, I’ve noticed that many of us have gone back to qualifying what we say.

For example:

“What I’d just like to just try and do today is to hopefully walk you through some suggestions that I think could be of benefit to you and your team should you find these suggestions helpful. I feel that possibly our next step should be perhaps to go forward with these suggestions that might help your business.”

Yikes, what was that mess?

Here is that again, this time with all the qualifying words/phrases highlighted:

“What I’d just like to try and do today is to hopefully walk you through some suggestions that I think could be of benefit to you and your team should you find these suggestions helpful. I feel that possibly our next step should be perhaps to go forward with these suggestions that might help your business.”

Ahh yes. It’s the treacherous world of qualifiers that have seeped into our lexicon once again. For example, did the highlighting of “suggestions” surprise you? Suggestions is a soft word that does not invoke confidence. Better is “recommendations.” This lets your audience know you are basing your insight on experience, research, and knowing their business/industry.

Words That Weaken Our Recommendations

One of the casualties from our sheltered environment was the caution to not press someone on an idea or recommendation we have. We were trying to be sensitive to the whole situation when everything seemed so uncertain. Not wishing to offend or seem overly aggressive, we went backward and over-qualified our accretive ideas.

It’s time to drop these qualifiers when offering an idea or recommendation that requires a level of declaration and alacrity to have it accepted.

Listed below are the words I recommend (not suggest!) you use when delivering a well-thought-out idea:










Can/Is/Know/Am confident













Will/Want/Am Convinced

(Never say)


(Never say)

You may not even know that you are using some of the left-column words. Next time you give a presentation, keep them in mind! Better yet, rehearse your presentation in front of a co-worker. Give them this sheet and ask them to tally how many times you use each of the left-column words. You’re likely to be surprised how many creep in! But then…you’ll be hyper-aware of them when you deliver the presentation for real, making your recommendations even stronger when you switch to right-column phrasing!

Returning to In-person Client Meetings

Today I’m back meeting with clients face to face! Yikes, it’s like Back to School…HAPPILY!

Last night, though, I realized I needed to define how will I facilitate this training. What questions will I ask to re-enter my client’s world relationally and commercially empathetically to make a difference?

Perhaps you are facing the same dilemma as your team slowly returns to the office. Are you (and they) ready for face-to-face client meetings? And how will you engage with them as they reacclimate themselves to in-person interactions?

Here are a few questions I will use. I recommend you experiment with them, tailoring them for your team’s re-entry, and ask them of yourself:

Questions to Ask When Your Team Returns

  • How does it feel to be back?
  • How important is reinforcing your organization’s identity now that we’re all returning?
  • What areas must your team be more agile with?
  • How will you scale your footprint going forward?
  • What’s important to YOU between now and Q4?
  • What challenges are there?

Once you’ve answered these, schedule meetings with your clients on a one-on-one basis. These initial meetings require consummate listening. Don’t fix, just listen. Your goal is to understand their plight and their challenges. Just doing this affirms your relationship and says you’re important to me. And to ensure they get that message, state it! “Our relationship is important to me and my organization.”

It will make a difference.



Relationally Cross-Selling

My last blog focused on the “WHY” of cross-selling, this blog focuses on the “HOW.”

Always remember cross-selling is good business. It credentials you as an advisor, not a vendor. Someone is going to sell this service to your client, the question is, will it be you?

Even if it ultimately isn’t you, you’ve still shown your commercial empathy and prescience by offering the service you’ve recommended.

Here are some tips for developing business with your existing clients by cross-selling:

How to Cross-Sell

  • Create for your business the definition of a high-value customer
    • This is essential to govern your prospecting activity. By defining what a high-value customer is, you make the job of cross-selling easier by honing in on this customer profile. Then, your cross-selling activity can become repeatable and scalable for your BD Team.
  • Establish a cross-selling profile: What customers have needed these services in the past?
    • You and your company have a stable of clients, each of them using your services/products for different reasons. But are there commonalities? Are there certain types of clients that use the same services/products? Knowing this will help you segment your client base for much more effective cross-selling.
  • Determine who your best customers are that deserve this effort
    • Not all customers warrant cross-selling. If you’ve just started with them and haven’t established strong trust, give it time. Also, some are very narrow in their focus/vision so, they should not make your priority list, either. Those with whom you have developed a trusted adviser role are the ones that will likely be most receptive to your new ideas.
  • Decide on the service that is most accretive to their business
    • Never, ever assume your customer is going to know what they need. That’s your job! Assess each customer’s goals and determine what you can offer that will help them get there.
  • Pinpoint the executives you should offer this idea to
    • We’ve all done it…put a lot of effort into selling to one person only have the response be, “Sounds great but…I have to run this by some people first.” Who are those people? And when can YOU run it by them?
  • Schedule business reviews to reinforce your value, use probing questions to determine future challenges, then cross-sell
    • Before you try to sell them on a new idea…you have to understand how well you’re doing in the first place. Has your product/service met their expectations? Will it for the future? What new challenges are they facing that could be helped by a different part of your company’s offerings? Have this face-to-face (or Zoom to Zoom!) meeting regularly so that you can find opportunities to cross-sell.
  • Recommend a pilot program to initiate the process
    • You are addressing a new challenge with a new offering. Let them see it in action on a small scale. Their risk will be minimal and they’ll see how well your product/service addresses a key issue. It will help you cross-sell and create an internal advocate as your service is sold upstream within their company.

It’s often said that finding new customers is far more challenging than developing new business from existing ones. That’s true…if you have a plan for nurturing these relationships so that your cross-selling recommendations are trusted by your clients as being in their best interest. Follow the tips above to achieve that level of trust!

‘Tis the Season for Referrals!

Yikes! It’s April already!

One of my greatest coaches once said to me, “If you can’t see your year by June, you’ve lost the year”.

Even to this day when I remember him saying this, I still somewhat shudder. Yet, he was right!

Jumping Ahead to Recovery

Let’s look at 2021 pragmatically. All signs point to recovery either in Q3 or Q4. What this global realization means is that we’ll be somewhat back to our normal style of operations, albeit potentially in a hybrid manner, but for sure with the societal intention of face-to-face meetings!

That’s great news except, who are you gonna see?

Of course, you’ll be meeting with clients and constituents you’ve had commercial relationships with pre-COVID. The larger question is: where is your new business coming from in 2022?

New Business from Existing Client Equity

This is actually not as scary/daunting as you might think. What we’re speaking about is cross-selling and the opportunity to gain referrals from clients with whom you already have equity!

Said simply, this is the time to monetize your client’s value by recommending an additional product or service that’s accretive to their mission. As you build equity, you will:

  • Align your clients’ goals to your commercial goals
  • Strengthen your relationship
  • Illustrate your prescience
  • Drive trust
  • Potentially increase their spend

From there, you can manage the relationship in a way that gives them confidence in recommending your service/product internally or externally, thereby strengthening your long-term sales funnel.

In the great book, “The Trusted Advisor” by David Maister (please get it) he states: Existing customers generally give us the opportunity for an audience. They’ll hear us out. The deeper question, however, is whether they’ll engage and open up.

In my next blog, we’ll focus on HOW to accomplish this.


There’s Always Time to Differentiate

With so many distractions these days, from finding, then getting, the vaccine to staying true to all our Zoom/Teams calls to following up with colleagues and especially clients, who has time to differentiate themselves?



Don’t Dilute Your Personal Brand

You are unique. You have ideas no one else may ever have. You’re not a commodity, replaced easily by someone who bases their value on price, right? Of course you’re not. However, in these times when we are physically disconnected from clients, the trap of just “getting stuff done” and maintaining the basics is diluting our personal brands, that which differentiates us.

Each time I address this action with clients I also address it for myself. In a recent post, I wrote about the importance of being relational and declarative. Now, go the next step and make sure they understand that you are, simply, the best! And here are some tips to accomplish that goal:

Tips for Differentiation

  • Each call is special. As my father, a surgeon, said, “No two patients are the same. You never treat one the same as the other.” That’s so true with clients. Never treat them the same. On every call, they should feel like they are your ONLY client, even though they know it’s not true. Having them feel that way is good enough and creates a strong, unique connection.
  • Listen as though you’re wrong. I’m amazed at the level of curiosity I can have on any client call. I’m not on auto-pilot. I’m genuinely curious about someone’s life, what’s dear to them, and what I can learn from them. This way of interacting makes things so much more interesting…for both of us!
  • Deliver your recommendations as though they’re your last. Minus the drama of that statement, deliver your ideas/recommendations with heart and passion. You’ll be remembered for both!
  • Resolve questions/objections calmly. In high school, Ms. Lynn was my honors English teacher. The class was a challenge for me but as I watched her smooth, calm, focused delivery I actually took many of her behaviors with me to this day. Nothing phased her, no matter how exasperating our questions might have been. I’ve adopted that behavior and impart it to my clients, encouraging them to have a “no problem” attitude.
  • Be persistent, yet likable. There’s no substitute for this behavior. When you believe something is right for a client or someone on your team, stay in front of them with empathy and confidence.
  • Always think long-term. People who operate from a place of “I’ll get this one thing done to keep my client happy and off my back” usually wind up losing them. Steer your relationships as though you’ll be working with this person/client until you retire. You are in it for the long haul and they should know that.
  • Stay friends with everyone. Burnt bridges can never be crossed again. You’ve nurtured these relationships for a long time, right? Then why give them up, even if professionally they end. I have 20+ year friendships with former clients who I call upon often for input/insight…and they do the same with me. Even after we’ve stopped working together, I’m still differentiating myself by staying connected.

You are different. And you clients need to know that…and be reminded of it often. Use these tips to accomplish that goal. Let me know how it goes!

Being Relational and Declarative in This New Era

Now that we’ve all acclimated to our virtual world, it’s time to lead others in a relational declarative manner. I use these two words, relational and declarative very specifically. And here’s why.

Have you noticed that passion, heart, desire, and confidence get lost during a virtual call? Somehow there’s humanitarian dilution when you’re not face-to-face with a client. Get it back by mastering being relational and declarative. And it’s in that order.

Relational and Declarative Behavior

Being relational means that you understand, and have proven you understand, the goals and challenges of your client. The result is that they realize you fully empathize with their challenge.

Once you’ve built this relationship, one based on trust, you can then be declarative by delivering your recommendation is made clearly, confidently, and urgently. Because you’ve established trust, you can deliver these recommendations with the confidence of knowing that your client is open to hearing them.

Review How You’re Coming Across

So much of what we all are doing these days relies heavily on video technology to connect with clients. Have you taken the time to see how you’re coming across to them? Currently, I’m coaching a dozen clients in just this manner.

What has demonstrably helped is when they videotape themselves with me watching them deliver an upcoming internal/external recommendation. We analyze their delivery and often find several behaviors that dilute from the relational and declarative delivery they want.

To help them, and you, I’ve created the following list of recommendations that are a guide for how best to present yourself through the relatively new medium of video conferencing:

  • Avoid starting a thought with the non-word, “So”
  • Eliminate the non-words; “ah/um”, they make you sound tentative
  • Pause more in-between your thoughts to make your thoughts have more gravitas
  • Look into your camera NOT your screen. You must train yourself to play to your camera. This communicates your desire to connect
  • Initiate your idea/recommendation/data with an agenda. An agenda controls the conversation
  • Timeline you’re meeting. If you have thirty minutes and three topics you’ve got ten minutes per topic, don’t run over
  • Synthesize what others are saying to respect their ideas, then move to your next topic
  • Close your meeting with Who needs to do What and by When

Experiment with video recording yourself to check for these delivery inhibitors. When you review it, be sure to pay as much attention to how you are delivering your recommendation as you do to the recommendation itself!

Let me know how it goes.

Leadership Checklist for Covid Recovery

Over the past few blogs, I’ve spoken about comporting yourself with optimism and alacrity (a cheerful engagement in conversation).

In this post, let’s talk about your recovery-checklist.

We’ve all manically focused on keeping our respective businesses going since COVID-19 hit. It’s now time to focus on YOU, your internal/external brand, and the impact you and your brand are making.

Answer these questions to self-assess your preparedness for our eventual return to normalcy:

Checklist for Brand Recovery Post-Covid:

How actively am I participating in my organization’s conversations?

Participating is caring. It’s also a statement of vitality and responsibility. The more you engage, the more your team will.

How strategic have I been with my contributions or have I been too cautious?

This is mission-critical to our recovery! Your strategic input doesn’t have to be exact it’s got to be good enough to stimulate debate. It shows your thinking ahead, which is what everyone on your team should be doing.

How frequently am I communicating with my team?

Care, then care some more. You must show your concern or your team will assume the opposite. This isn’t “Have you completed that project?” dialogue. You should focus more on their well-being and state of mind as they navigate through these unprecedented times. “We’re nearly a year into this pandemic. Since it started, what’s gotten better for you? What’s gotten worse?”

Do they know my vision?

Your vision drives engagement and alignment. It becomes a rallying cry for others who can’t sort their own vision out yet. Some things to consider before you communicate your vision:

  1. Do I know how they’re doing relative to COVID?
  2. How strong is my emotional intelligence?
  3. Have I delegated work to my team that enhances the difference they make or have I taken too much on my own?

Am I driving my team to stretch and succeed?

Directs want to work. They want to produce results that are affirmational. Don’t stifle them by not stretching them during this sheltered time.

  1. How effective have I been when presenting my ideas?
  2. How urgent are my recommendations, internally and externally?
  3. Have I been inspiring?

Answer these questions to take stock in your recovery-potential.

Checking Covid-Fatigue and Other Things Affecting Your Team

As a doctor, my father saw dozens of hospitalized patients during his long career. And as anyone who has been in a hospital knows, it can be a stressful, anxiety-inducing experience. I used to make rounds with my father many times as he visited patients. Even as a young boy, I could appreciate his manner and the approach he took with each person. He was courteous, optimistic, patient, and clear. I also noticed how he transformed each patient’s feelings about their surgery.

I could see their anxiety ebb from his interaction with them. The main message my father got across to his patients is that he cared. He took time to listen and to understand their apprehension. Never rushing them, he heard what they wanted to tell him, the result being very cathartic for his patients. By the time he completed his pre-op evaluation, they were brighter, confident, and peaceful.

Fast forward to us as leaders in a pandemic…Do as my father did! Now is the time to learn about your direct reports. How is this “next normal” affecting them, their families, their mindsets? Where/when are they experiencing the most anxiety….like my father’s patients did? And how can you help them cope while still growing in their professional role?

To help, here are some key things to do as you connect with your team members:

  • Schedule formal team check-ins: Put them on the calendar and do not vary from that schedule!  Formal vs. ad hoc check-ins prove you care about the well-being and self-actualization of your team. Notice how directs will open up to you more and more from this effort.
  • Aim your conversations forward not backward: It’s been a hard 12 months for everyone. But this too shall pass (eventually!). Focus your conversation on the positive steps that can be taken now and for the future. This action illustrates optimism and that you realize how important your team’s actions are to being part of the global recovery.  
  • Empathize with COVID-fatigue: The burden of living/working through this pandemic is a heavy one to bear. It is real, it is debilitating, and it needs to be addressed. Ask your team about how they are dealing with this challenge? What impact has it has on them mentally, physically, financially, etc.? Ask about their family. These questions are mission-critical to pinpointing what may be thwarting your direct’ s ability to focus and produce the results you need.
  • Agree on a forward-thinking business development strategy: Working from a plan will help reduce your team’s anxiety because they will know where they are headed. Creating this path keeps your team focused on the right prize and what matters most, professionally. 
  • Establish and CELEBRATE short term accomplishments: A win is a win. Celebrate it! This is imperative to do to cement the actions you want to be replicated. You are also letting your team know that you are paying attention to what they are doing. Providing real, meaningful, positive feedback is one of the greatest, most valued things a leader can provide a team member. Do it!

The benefit of these actions is that they transform a team’s spirit along with each individual’s self-actualization. You are reminding them, and yourself, that they make a difference!

Do these things in the next few weeks and let me know how it goes!  -SG

What Will You Be in 2021?

This time each year, I create my New Year’s resolutions and business goals. I recommend you do this too. For me, it creates my focus and often, weekly reflection. It also reminds me of my higher self. You know, the one that’s the “good angel.”

For many people, myself included, 2020 did NOT go as planned! The goals I set for 2020…out the window as Covid changed everything. But that doesn’t mean you should give up creating goals and plans for 2021. The new year has the potential to be one of transformation like no other. It’s also the year to celebrate a new normal with clients by embodying optimism and strong virtual commercial judgment.

An Understanding Optimist

One of my first 2021 resolutions is to remain an optimist. My second is to promise my clients, and myself, an in-depth understanding of their commercial journey. Our bridge to a better tomorrow is built by being affirmational with clients today. What that means is we know their business/professional goals and, to a great extent, their personal goals, too. Once a client shares this with me, I hold it as a covenant for collaboration. It’s an honor for a client to share what’s truly driving their focus and energy, beyond just the window dressing of expected goals.

A Trusted Advisor

The more I understand the white space a client is wrestling with, the more I can assist them and be held as a trusted advisor. And that’s always a goal for me…it should be for you as well. This requires a commitment to forging an intimate commercial relationship with your client, beyond the peripheral one each of us has. It requires asking questions that may seem too invasive. Let them be that way. If a client bristles with some of your commercially intimate questions, explain that the reason you are asking them is to clearly understand their burning challenge. And, once knowing this, taking it on as a marching order to make the grandest difference you can, helping them resolve that challenge.

Ultimately, you want a client relationship that results in them speaking well of you even when you are not around. Getting in deep with them and staying in their pain as described above will help achieve this goal.

I wish you much success, prosperity, and good health for 2021!  -SG