The senior vice president (SVP) of a consumer electronics firm is mulling to enhance the efficiency of its sales people. The product training manager of the company has a good idea – provide the sales staff iPads, so that they can get good just-in-time (JIT) support which helps them perform better. But, the SVP rejected the idea stating it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The product training manager was disappointed.
This is not an uncommon scenario. Many a time, product training managers come up with good ideas to improve productivity. But, they are utterly disappointed when the people who have to give the nod don’t accept these ideas. Where does the problem lie? How can you convince your bosses and stakeholders whose approval is needed? Well, here is what you need to do.
1. Have an informal talk with the people who need to give the “green signal”, before you make a formal presentation
John P. Kotter, the Chief Innovation Officer at Kotter International advises managers to have a chat over tea (or any other time when people are relaxed) about your idea. He says that the main advantage of this is you can gauge people’s reactions to what you say, and this goes a long way in helping you handle objections when you present the ideas formally. It also serves another important purpose – the stakeholders know that you are interested in finding out what they think.
2. Make the necessary homework before entering the meeting room
Good presenters convey their ideas clearly and sound confident. The way you answer product training stakeholders’ queries and address their concerns often makes the difference between the acceptance and rejection of your idea. Michael I. Norton, an Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School says, “Primarily, when you watch someone stumble through an answer, you make an inference that they don’t know what they’re talking about.” Product training managers need to do a thorough groundwork to identify and analyze the possible concerns, so that they can deal with them effectively. Here, the informal discussions you held earlier come in very handy.
3. Tell the stakeholders “what’s in it for them”
Kotter believes that managers who tell their stakeholders how the latter would benefit from their ideas usually succeed in getting a buy-in. People, who understand that a proposal is beneficial, usually do not come in the way of its implementation. In the example we have seen earlier, the SVP would have accepted the proposal, had the product training manager provided an explanation, backed by facts and figures. The manager ought to have explained how the iPad initiative would increase the sales manifold, and the cost of acquiring the tablets would be far less than the profits they would bring.
4. Stick to the most relevant points and build your case around them
The mantra of a good presentation is simplicity. Don’t overwhelm your stakeholders with tons of data. Concentrate on the most important points and present facts pertaining to them. You need to remember that you have limited time to get your point across.
Thus, you can convince your boss and other product training stakeholders and get their buy-in. Hope you find this blog interesting. Do share your views.