How to Influence Decision Makers
We have been working with senior management and business professionals for more than 30 years. The need to persuade people to think differently is one of the most important skill sets for those involved in the “influence and change” industry, and having a methodology as part of your presentation planning and conversation management is critical to success.
As part of our Executive Development Program Communication 3’s, we often use the following quick reference approach to review client and prospect interactions and coach people to better understand how every interaction can strengthen a relationship, increase trust and deliver value.
Understand Upfront That It Is Not Easy
Changing a person’s mind is one of the greatest challenges in business. For those active in the sales process, being prepared for each interaction is important. Our template for increasing your probability for sales success utilizes a proclamation, differentiation and confirmation sequence.
1. Proclamation = Establish a Baseline of Common Ground
One of the most important steps in building relationships and trusted sales partnerships is to establish a baseline of common ground. Why? Having one allows your conversations to build and grow over time. In addition, establishing a shared baseline gives both participants a touchpoint for identifying when there is change.
One of the research programs we offer is a Municipal Market Analysis for communities looking to grow their economy. At some point during our presentation or conversation, the following dialogue is key to establishing a baseline of common ground.
• Need = Our research shows that most municipalities truly need a proven approach for identifying specific businesses that should be in their market. Do you agree?
• Price = In addition, the fees being charged by builders and developers for more broad economic plans are outrageous. Right?
• Solution = Would a fact-based analysis that allowed municipalities to identify specific businesses to target for a reasonable fee be of interest?
With a confirmed need-cost-solution baseline set, we have created a rock solid baseline of common ground.
2. Differentiation = Define the Desired Mindset Change
Once the proclamation stage is complete, it is time to transition to differentiation.
Knowing upfront what makes your product or service different is critical to initiating a mindset change. Having stumbled through this countless times during my earlier years in business brings back many frustrating memories and failed opportunities.
Using our Municipal Market Analysis as the example, we show some of our points of differentiation.
• Experience/Expertise — We have studied more than
40 Florida Markets and wrote a book titled “Local Marketing Leverage” to help businesses grow.
• Unbiased 3rd Party — Unlike design-build companies that may also offer market analysis programs, we are only looking to provide fact-based solutions with no conflicts of interest.
• All Facts and No Black Box Models — Our methodology is based on collecting large amounts of data, segmentation and gap analysis. You can see exactly how our recommendations are determined.
• Pricing — Our price points are well below those of most competitors and affordable for every municipality.
Then we ask: Might you (or others you know) be interested in a fact-based analysis based on the study of more than 40 Florida markets by a company with no conflicts of interest at an affordable price?
Now that we have both a baseline of common ground and have defined the mindset change, it is time to ask for confirmation.
3. Confirmation = Agreement of Terms
Building on our baseline of common ground and a desired mindset change sets the stage to simply introduce the terms for agreement. Most texts call this closing the sale. While contracts can be elaborate or simple, they almost always need to include what (deliverable outline/example), when (date) and how much (cost). Migrating the conversation to the introduction of an agreement of terms is often the missing component for generating sales. Never leave a sales meeting without providing prospects the ability to buy.
In our experience, we have found professionals that master the sequence and subtleties of “proclamation – differentiation – confirmation” will sell more efficiently.
Brian Klink is the president of Strategic Business Solutions, Inc. and has over 30 years’ experience at Fortune 500 Companies and as an independent consultant.