Ever had a great idea that’s fallen flat? You’ll need buy-in from your stakeholders before anything can properly get off the ground.
When was the last time you had a great idea that you felt went unheard? If it’s frequently you’re not alone. More often than not it doesn’t matter how good our ideas are – if we can’t get buy-in from the people that matter – then we’re wasting our time.
Whether you’re trying to influence stakeholders, speak compellingly in front of an audience, convince others of your ideas in a meeting – or even persuade your spouse or children to try something new, the ability to get ‘buy-in’ from those we are trying to influence is the difference between success and failure.
Real Buy-In? Thinking, Feeling, Believing
So let’s start with the most common myths – real buy-in has nothing to do with how loud you can be, how great your idea is, or even how confident you are of being right.
The key instead is to be crystal clear about one thing – what you want your audience to think, feel, believe or do different tomorrow than they did today.
And, to effectively do this, you’ll need to craft a message based on what your audience are currently thinking, feeling, believing or doing right now.
How you go about this depends on who your audience is, however it is possible to get a good read on the think, feel, do, believe in any situation.
For example, as a procurement professional, you might want to invest in some research. Select a few key players within your organisation and ask them out for coffee. Then ask them some simple questions around what their biggest challenges, pain points or questions are in relation to your space.
What value do they currently think your department provides? Do they see opportunities to gain even more value from what you know? What would make the biggest difference to their ability to include you in other important conversations?
Once you’ve been through the exercise a few times, break it down: Right now, what are the perceptions about your space? What value do they believe it brings to their world? What’s the gap between what they are doing right now and the actions you want them to take?
Two Ears, One Mouth – For a Reason
When you know this information, it is much easier to craft an argument that will actually convince. Rather than target shooting in the dark and hoping something will land.
However here’s the key – you have to actually listen. By listening I don’t mean nodding in all the right places and waiting for your opportunity to speak. I mean asking questions, clarifying, staying curious and trying to fully place yourself in their world.
This is not only 100 per cent more likely to create a space in which the other person will open up and give you important information. It also leads to one of the key rules of ‘buy-in’ – that people support the ideas they helped to create.
When you listen to someone’s perspective – and then create an idea tailored to their needs – not only do you win their attention but also their trust. That person will then more than likely become and advocate for both you and your ideas in the future. This means the next time you walk into the room ready to present, you’ll have a hidden asset already sold on both your knowledge and commitment.
It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are, without stakeholder buy-in they won’t get any traction. Can you improve this? Check out this other article here.
Collaboration for Change
The truth is that if you take any form of influence – they all boil down to one thing. The attempt to change what another person thinks, feels, believes or does. However, as successful influencers, we first have to start by taking a step back. Understanding the points of view we are trying to change – and then collaborating on better solutions.
So the next time you have a great idea – at work or at home – before jumping to present it in all its glory, start first by listening. Then rather than opponents you need to convince, you’ll have an army of collaborators helping to push it across the line.
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 http://juliemasters.com/inside-influence/.