How do I get partner buy-in?Posted on: April 21, 2009
Whatever training session I am running for young marketers in the professions, you can be sure that this is a question that is nearly always asked.
So here are a few thoughts:
Check your personal credibility
Take a long hard look at yourself. At what you do and how others perceive you. Do you present the right image? Do they see you as a valuable input to the management process or are you positioned as an administrative resource? Make sure that you have the right appearance, expertise and experience and that you have earned the trust of those who you want to buy-in.
Develop your technical knowledge
Professional services are complex. Whether you work with lawyers, accountants or surveyors you need to know a great deal about their markets, their firms and their services. If you take the time and trouble to learn about what they do, then they may then be more prepared to invest some time in listening to what you have to say.
Build a successful track record
Start small with some easy wins. Produce some results that show that your ideas work. It helps with your credibility. It reduces the perceived risk. It earns trust and respect.
See things from their perspective
Empathy is a vital skill in marketing and selling. So use it when you try to gain their buy in. Think objectively about their position and their present needs. Imagine how they might feel about your requests and suggestions. Then see how to ensure that what you want fits in with their current focus.
Help them understand
Often, partners will not have been trained in management or marketing. Sometimes their knowledge will be limited. Part of the role of managers and marketers in the professions is to help the partners develop their understanding of these matters. Provide the background before you move onto the specifics.
Change is hard. It is hard to leave your comfort zone. Most professions are risk averse. Provide encouragement and a safe environment if you want people to experiment with new behaviours.
Provide analysis, facts and figures
Invest time in doing your research and home work. Provide the relevant facts and figures. Set out a detailed analysis that can be followed rationally and objectively to get to the same conclusions as you do. Once you have helped the partners identify a problem, they will be more interested in considering various solutions.
I shouldn’t need to tell marketers about the need to communicate. Nor on the need to focus on the interests of the target audience. Please tailor your communication accordingly.
Set out a clear plan
Don’t produce too much information as it won’t get read. But explain the present situation, what the goals are and the key steps to get there. A rational explanation often helps remove the resistance and heat from any discussion. It certainly depersonalises things and makes it easier to discuss and find a route forward.
Present ideas in bite sized pieces
As managers and marketers we need detailed planned that show what is to happen and when. But this can be overwhelming to those who are focused, day to day, on serving the needs of their clients. So provide the information in small, bite sized pieces. What must they need to do today? Then tomorrow you can provide the next piece of the jigsaw.
Provide a compelling reason
As marketers and manager, we may understand why things have to change, why new systems are needed or why we are urging partners to provide information or change their behaviour. But we need to provide a compelling reason why. Back to basics sometimes work. Always tell them why the change is needed.
Find a champion
Whether it is your line manager, your managing partner or some other “power partner” you need to have a friend in high places. Someone who will champion your cause and present your case at the meetings you don’t attend.
Answer the “what’s in it for me?” question
This is a fundamental question in motivation and the world of selling. We need to explain the benefits as well as the features.
One of the first lessons I learned when I started working with the professions over 20 years ago was that the saying “Slowly, slowly catchee monkey”. And another great saying was “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
I do not restrict access to the FAQs but I politely request that you let me know by email and acknowledge the source (www.kimtasso.com) if you wish to use the material anywhere.
As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.