I recently visited Nottingham to lead a session for the East Midlands branch of the Professional Marketing Forum http://www.pmforum.co.uk/locations/eastmidlands.aspx called “Achieving buy-in – getting it past the partners”. It was hosted in the fabulous offices of Browne Jacobson (loved their open plan staff café and the “News in the loos” noticeboards).
In a short space of time we did exercises on pushing and pulling each other and even some drawing while we covered around a dozen top tips on achieving buy-in. After considering an array of consulting and coaching skills, the ideas that resonated most with the delegates were as follows:
Oranges – Segment the internal audience
Not all partners are the same. And not all partners need to be central to the buy-in campaign. As marketers we are used to segmenting our external markets so we should apply the same approach to the internal audience. Adapt our approach to different segments – aligning to their differing goals, needs and motivations. We looked briefly at the impact-influence matrix. And the role of selling ideas with benefits.
Elephants – Understand the role of emotion
Covering some key principles in psychology and change management, we looked at the importance of emotions. The reference to emotional elephants comes from the great book by Chip and Dan Heath http://kimtasso.com/change-management-book-review-switch-how-to-change-things-when-change-is-hard-by-chip-and-dan-heath/. Various techniques were explored in how to engage and harness the emotions of the partners.
Dancing – Make the specific steps clear
You wouldn’t expect people to dance without providing a step-by-step guide to exactly what they need to do. And allowing plenty of safe practice time. Same with buy-in. If you want people to do something different then you need to show them exactly what to do and keep it simple.
Details of PM Forum training courses – including those on buy-in: http://www.pmforum.co.uk/training/index.aspx
I finished with the idea that instead of “after-the-event” buy in we should consider “before-the-event” engagement.