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:
- Help for Asking for Help
- When we ask for help, from peers or from those with organizational power, we have some choices. How
we go about it can determine whether we get the help we need, in time for the help to help.
- Team Thrills
- Occasionally we have the experience of belonging to a great team. Thrilling as it is, the experience
is rare. How can we make it happen more often?
- Virtual Communications: III
- Participating in or managing a virtual team presents special communications challenges. Here's Part
III of some guidelines for communicating with members of virtual teams.
- Excuses, Excuses
- When a goal remains unaccomplished, we sometimes tell ourselves that we understand why. And sometimes
we do. But at other times, we're just fooling ourselves.
- Heart with Mind
- We say people have "heart" when they continue to pursue a goal despite obstacles that would
discourage almost everyone. We say that people are stubborn when they continue to pursue a goal that
we regard as unachievable. What are our choices when achieving the goal is difficult?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 8: Multi-Expert Consensus
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- And on July 15: Disjoint Concept Vocabularies
- In disputes or in problem solving sessions, when we can't seem to come to agreement, we often attribute the difficulty to miscommunication, histories of disagreements, hidden agendas, or "personality clashes." Sometimes the cause is much simpler. Sometimes the concept vocabularies of the parties don't overlap. Available here and by RSS on July 15.
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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.
- Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?
Decision-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.
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