Business Stakeholder Selling Skills
This post is an aide-memoire for Business Relationship Managers to ensure that the basics are covered in engaging Business stakeholders with new ideas. It is part of a series of posts on how to influence others.
Once we’ve established our personal brand and values, we have successfully established who we are and what we can offer to our relationships in business. The next step is utilizing that influence.
Selling an idea or a solution requires homework. This means knowing the business – what your business partner does, how the partner function helps the company make money, and understanding the product and services the company sells. In addition, this means knowing the individual or group you are selling to.
The crux of the idea is to answer the question: “What’s in it for them?”
A Compelling Issue
Identify the critical issue the idea addresses. Research statistics and gather data internally within the business to make the issue more compelling. Can your audience identify with the issue?
Your Business Stakeholder’s Pains and Gains
Create two lists for your target audience. If you have multiple audiences, create the lists for each audience:
- Pains – Challenges, threats, issues
- Gains – Opportunities, needs and wants
Then, check the features of the idea or solution against the pains / gains and then ask yourself how does it:
- Reduce the pain?
- Increase the gain?
Having gone through this process, you may find that the idea or solution maybe redundant or require further refinements before presentation.
Benefits and Qualification
To make the solution compelling, it is necessary to be able to describe the benefits in quantified business terms and provide examples of where the solution has worked elsewhere.
Selecting the right format to deliver your message will depend on your audience and their information needs. This could be as simple as elevator pitch, a one page executive summary or presentation. Practice is key as is keeping the message as simple as possible. A sales pitch should be no more than 10 slides with simple bullet points and clear diagrams.
Confirmation of Support
Having gone to the effort of understanding the business, marshalling pains and gains, benefits and creating tailored messages, The effort could be lost if support for the idea is not confirmed from the audience. Following up the meeting with an email confirming what spoken about and the next steps to maintain buy-in are great ways to achieve this.
- Selling is not “talking” but listening and understanding.
- If the solution or idea does not respond to any of the business partner gains or pains, then the sell will not happen. Good news! You can focus attention on another idea!
- Do the work so your audience doesn’t have to. Make it easy to understand how the solution helps them.
- Let the audience own the idea as if they thought of it. Treat sponsorship like this as a compliment. You’re more likely to be invited to the next strategy meeting.
How Baxter Thompson Associates can help
We help IT understand the opportunity with business partners through our Reconnaissance for IT framework and can help implement a business relationship management capability to ensure that the Value in IT is delivered. We also provide training - the BRMP(R) and soon the CBRM(R) courses in addition to coaching and Interim Management.