It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are, without stakeholder buy-in they won’t get any traction. Can you improve this?
True innovation comes from true influence. However, the painful reality is that it often doesn’t matter how good your ideas are. If you can’t get buy-in from other people, from the stakeholders in your organisation, then it will end up at the bottom of the pile.
Whether you are trying to implement a new program, in a difficult meeting at work, or attempting to convince your spouse or children of a different point of view, getting buy-in, or being able to influence others, is often the difference between success and failure.
Yet getting buy-in has nothing to do with how loud you are, how great your idea is, or even how confident you are of being right. So what does it involve?
Getting Crystal Clear
Like all important things the key to ‘influence’ is simple – but not easy. It means getting crystal clear on what you actually want your audience to ‘think’, ‘believe’ or ‘do’ differently.
However, in order to do this effectively, you need to craft a message based on what your audience are thinking, believing or doing right now.
How you go about this depends on who your audience is, but it is possible to get a good read on the think, believe, do in any situation.
For example, as procurement professionals, you have a multitude of stakeholders. So you might want to start by investing in some market research. You might start by inviting some of those key people to lunch, then asking them what their biggest challenges, pain points or questions are in relation to your world.
Crafting the Message
Once you’ve been through that important exercise, break it down: Right now, what do they believe about your value? What are they thinking? What are they doing?
When you know this information, it is much easier to craft a message that speaks their language. However more importantly than that – a message with a clear and engaging path to action.
Once you become experienced in this process you can apply it to any topic. For example: What does marketing need to know right now in terms of procurement trends? Start there – ask the right person (or people) about what they are currently thinking, believing and doing in relation to the topic. Then use that language to bridge the gap between their current reality – and the reality you want to create.
Illuminate a Path
One of my favourite interviews for my Inside Influence podcast was Nancy Duarte. Nancy is a global communication expert, CEO and bestselling author. While discussing her core advice for those looking to become compelling communicators or storytellers – she explained something I wanted to shout from the rooftops.
She said that if you want to create real engagement – rather than a short burst of attention – then turn that engagement into actual action – your primary role is to ‘illuminate a path’. What does she mean by that? She’s saying that it’s not enough to tell people what to do – you also need to give them a compelling enough ‘why’ – followed by a clear pathway to action.
A clear pathway to action doesn’t have to be huge. In fact, going for a ‘simple yes’ is far more likely to result in action that a complex plan of execution. It could be something as simple as: ‘If you want to talk more about some of the possible results we could get from this idea – let me know when you’re free for a brief phone call’. Or ‘In order to take full advantage of this procurement trend we would need to do three simple things…’
An Idea to So Much More
It’s a simple path to action (what you want them to think, believe or do differently) that takes our communication from being ‘just an idea’ to so much more.
So what’s next if you want to increase your buy-in – or influence – in any situation? First become a student of the world of your target audience. Ask the right questions, of the right people – and then use that language to illuminate a path to the promised land.
Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration into what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes or Julie’s website.