Saturday, May 4, 2013

Small Business - How to sell your ideas

Perhaps you run a small business or you lead a team or you provide a consulting service - and you want some tips on how to sell your ideas and become more persuasive?

Maybe you want to sell potential investors on the growth prospects of your small business.  Or perhaps you’re presenting a pitch to a prospective client …. Or you want to persuade your suppliers to extend a line of credit to your business. Or you’re trying to convince your team of the eventual efficiency benefits of a new computer system that’s being implemented.
Selling your ideas Navigating your way around business and the workplace now-days requires good communication skills, there’s no question about that. And there are many situations when you need to be able to not just communicate your message clearly – but also persuasively. Many times when you want to be able to gain agreement from another person, have them accept your ideas and win their support for the course of action you are proposing

Seven keys to communicating more persuasively
So what are some of the influencing keys to being able to effectively get people “on side” so they become more open to considering your ideas?  Here’s seven tips ……

1.   Prepare Know what you want to achieve from your meeting or discussion with the person. Have a clear objective in mind and think about the best time and place for you to approach them with your idea or proposal. Should your approach be a formal one – or more of an informal and casual one? Are they a visual person – would some visual aids help in getting your message across?

2.   Intend to do at least as much listening as talking. I have found that way too many people when they are trying to sell their ideas just talk, talk, talk ….. Blah, blah, blah …… A hard sell approach will usually make other people feel suspicious and defensive with you. Instead, by carefully listening to the other person and asking them questions to genuinely learn more about their thoughts is an important step in beginning to build some rapport with them

3.   Speak in the language of the other person. Target your message to the agenda of the other person. Identify their interests and aspirations. Provide reasons and benefits of why they should agree that have relevance and significance to them. When preparing, try to anticipate the concerns and questions the other person may voice, so that you are able to comfortably address them if they are raised.

4.   Stick to a few strong points – rather than trying to make too many selling points. Otherwise, you end up diminishing the impact of your strong points with relative trivia.

5.   Show them first that you understand their problem, goal or aspiration  before you try to sell any type of solution or course of action. You need to regularly relate what you have to say back to their goals if you want to retain their attention.

6.   Welcome objections that the other person may voice to your idea or proposal, instead of becoming defensive. It is your chance to address a barrier that would otherwise prevent you from gaining their agreement. It is far better for you that their resistance is vocalised rather than remaining “beneath the surface”. Again before you respond, ensure that you have explored and probed the true nature of their concern. The last thing you want to do is turn the discussion into a debate, which will result in the person's resistance to your idea becoming more entrenched. Keep an open mind - maybe there is something you have failed to consider. And maybe you could actually improve your idea by taking their points on board.

7.   Recognise when to walk away. Sometimes you may need to come back to an issue at a later time, if you’re encountering too much resistance. Go away and review your communication strategy – you may need to make a fundamental change to the approach you have been adopting with the person. Or alternatively, you may judge it time to cut your losses and no longer pursue your idea with that particular person ….. Maybe there’s another decision-maker who might be more receptive to it?

So in conclusion, success in business and in the workplace relies upon your ability to communicate with influence across the many different relationships you have with customers, suppliers, staff and other stakeholders. But if you want to be persuasive, then you don’t just talk at people - you discuss with people.
You must adjust your message and how you deliver it to your audience. How you say something is at least as important as the actual content of what you say to another person. If you do not speak with conviction and confidence, then why should anyone trust you and agree to your recommendation?
And yet there can also sometimes be a fine line between being respected for your confidence and persistence, as opposed to being perceived as arrogant and creating resentment 

It’s about them, not you
Keep the agenda of the other person and their interests at the forefront of your mind, instead of focusing on your own needs and agenda. In doing so, it will be much more likely that you’ll end up gaining the support that you seek. And even if they don’t agree with you this time. if you’ve followed the above tips, then you’ll still have a firm foundation of goodwill in the relationship for any future influencing initiatives.

Related topics Management Skills Development and also Personal Development

Copyright 2013. Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development - a corporate training company based in Melbourne, Australia that delivers management training and leadership development services