Saturday, December 08, 2007

Selling Your Ideas: The Art of Persausion

"You can have brilliant ideas; but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere." - Lee Iacocca, former Chairman of Chrysler Corp."
How do you develop a systematic approach to selling your ideas that results in effective persuasion? Answer: Learn how to “woo” people to your way of thinking. “Woo” stands for Winning Others Over. It is the ability to move people to your way of thinking without coercion or force, using relationship-based, emotionally intelligent persuasion. To “woo” someone has many different meanings, but they all come down one thing - focusing on the other person, the person you want to persuade. You “woo” people to get their support and approval. It is also the ability to easily establish rapport with many different people. However "woo" may also be defined as effectively selling ideas - using persuasion rather than force - is one of the most important skills that everyone from CEOs and entrepreneurs to team leaders and mid-level managers need to learn if they want to be effective in their organizations. The 4 Step process to selling your ideas: based on “the art of WOO. Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas”, by G. Richard Shell & Mario Moussa, Portfolio, 2007

Step 1) Survey Your Situation: The Idea:
- Exactly what problem does your idea solve?
- What are the causes of this problem?
- What makes my idea better than the available alternatives?
Selling Strategy Stepping Stones:
- Who is the decision Maker?
- Where does the person I am approaching fit into my stepping-stone strategy?
- What are my specific goals for this encounter (gain input, access, positive attitude, authorisation, endorsement, decision, resources, implementation)?
- What medium (face-to-face, phone, e-mail, etc.) should I use?

Step 2) Confronting the 5 Barriers. Be prepare to overcome the 5 most common obstacles that can sink ideas before they get started. The 5 barriers are:
1. Unreceptive beliefs. What beliefs and values does this person hold that could block or support my case?
2. Conflicting interests. What are the other party’s interests and how can I address them?
3. Negative relationships. What characterises my relationship to the person I am trying to influence? Can I improve that relationship?
4. Lack of credibility. What is the basis for my credibility with this person? Can I emphasise this?
5. Communication. What channels should I use (Authority, Rationality, Vision, Relationship, Interests, Politics)? Do I need to adjust my style? Great persuaders throughout history have shared a natural “instinct” for overcoming this last barrier.

Step 3) Making Your Pitch. Frame your idea in a compelling way by answering the following questions:
- What evidence will best resonate with the other person?
- How can I personalize the pitch and make it memorable?
- Link the pitch to key organizational goals and objectives
- Address any potentially conflicting interests.

Step 4) Secure Your Commitments. Seek to secure both individual and organizational commitments.
- What public actions can I request to obtain an individual commitment?
- What political objections may arise related to turf, resources, credit, or careers?
- How can I create momentum to generate a snowball effect?
- What alliances and coalitions should I develop to secure implementation?

Avoid the mistake of thinking that your job is done when you get a “yes” to your proposal. Research shows that in most organizations as many as 8 sign-offs are required even for simple ideas. So, after you move the individual you need to move the organization and that can require a lot of effort to keep the pressure on to drive through new ideas and change within the organization.

No comments: