Karl knocked on the doorjamb. Sara looked up. "You were right," he said to Sara. She made a little circular motion with her right hand, which by now Karl recognized as "Come in, close the door, sit down." He did all that, sighed a deep sigh and said, "Wolf will be a problem."
"Say more," she said.
"Well, he's convinced that Metronome won't work, even if we try this extension. I think he wants to try the Marigold approach instead."
Sara looked thoughtful. "Good thing we found that out now. Marigold is a mess, and we can make sure everyone knows why before we even enter the room on Thursday. I love it!"
Karl and Sara are trying to make a case to decision-makers, and they're taking a very strategic approach. They're speaking to opinion leaders first, finding out where they stand, and learning how to strengthen the case they plan to make on Thursday.
If you plan to "sell uphill" soon, what can you do before and after your formal presentation to enhance your chances of success? Here are five tips.People are persuaded in
part by the relationship
they have with
- Build relationship
- Most people are persuaded in part by the relationships they have with the persuader. Are you known to the people you're trying to persuade? If not, reframe your objective from persuasion to relationship building. Think of the current effort not only as an attempt to persuade, but also as a chance to start building relationship.
- Connect with opinion leaders
- Often decision-makers rely on trusted advisers — opinion leaders. Build relationships with opinion leaders, keep them informed in advance, and listen carefully to their questions and suggestions.
- Make your approach valuable in itself
- Even if you fail to persuade, will you be imparting value? Will the time spent be valuable to all concerned? Make your case so informative, engaging, and stimulating that your audience will be eager to listen to you again sometime.
- Give them something useful
- Deliver something concrete that will make you memorable — a handout, a summary chart, an insight they can use in other contexts, or a quick-reference resource. Put your name on it.
- Appreciate the listeners
- Most of us thank our audiences when we're at the front of the room, but few of us take time afterward to express appreciation. That's actually good news, because it means that when you send a hand-written thank-you note the next day, you'll easily stand out.
If you are yourself a decision maker, and you'd like the champions and advocates in your organization to use some of these strategies, tell them about it. People are a lot more likely to deliver what you value if they know what it is. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 11: The Rhyme-as-Reason Effect
- When we speak or write, the phrases we use have both form and meaning. Although we usually think of form and meaning as distinct, we tend to assess as more meaningful and valid those phrases that are more beautifully formed. The rhyme-as-reason effect causes us to confuse the validity of a phrase with its aesthetics. Available here and by RSS on December 11.
- And on December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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