Influence Skills: Know the 3 Groups Who Can Make or Break You at Work

When influencing, it’s not always clear who all the players are. The person who ultimately gives you the green light is the obvious one. But what about those behind the scenes who, if not in the loop, can thwart even the best influence attempt?

Influence: 3 groups at work who can make or break your next pitch

There are three categories of people who can make or break any influence pitch you have coming up. Do you know who they are? You could be in trouble if you don’t.

  1. The SELL Group. This is the clearly identifiable group that never gets left out — the decision makers who give the yes or no to any request and the ones to whom you address your compelling pitch.
  2. The TELL Group. This is the group that often gets left out. These are the people who want to make sure they have their hand in what’s going on; they like to be kept in the loop. Although they may not be the final decision makers, if they’re not informed, they could take it as a slight. And if they do, they could then join a campaign, overtly or not, to thwart you on this or future requests you might have. TELL is the political category, and keeping these individuals apprised is a strategically necessary move. If your boss is not the ultimate decision maker, and is therefore not in your SELL group, your boss is a member of the TELL group.
  3. The HELP Group. The third category includes those people you enlist to help you in the influence process. These are well-connected and highly respected individuals in the organization who you know hold some influence with the decision makers. You want to get them on board before you pitch to the SELL group — they could end up swaying them in your favor. And in some cases, getting the HELP group on board even after you pitch to the SELL group can still work to your advantage.

Take a moment to think about an important influence situation you have coming up.

  • Who’s in your SELL group — that is the person or people you need to influence directly?
  • Who’s in your TELL group — politically-speaking, those who should be kept in the information loop about what you’re doing?
  • Who’s in the HELP contingent — those who can assist you in selling before, during, or even after your actual influence attempt?

Have you had an experience with these groups or with an influence situation? Or do you have a question or a tip about influence at work? Please share below by leaving a comment. 

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3 thoughts on “Influence Skills: Know the 3 Groups Who Can Make or Break You at Work

  1. So true!! I’ve learned over the years that getting the full support of all of these groups is critical to accomplishing your goals. People often leave out the Tell group and if they have competing interests that don’t get addressed upfront they can do a lot to kill an idea before it even gets off the ground. Super-helpful to think of them in these groups.

  2. Oh yes! I often forget to take a moment and be clear on identifying who all of the various constituents are and then find myself having to “back up the bus” mid-pitch. Great idea also for the team leading the pitch to go thru this identification together as can make a big difference in achieving success.

  3. This is so insightful. All three groups are essential to success but, the TELL group — whether you like it or not — are key people in every organization and many of them care deeply about their influencing strength. Definitely key to have the TELL group on board. I have also found that the HELP group can help you with both groups.