When we started to put together the agenda for this year's LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions User Forums, my team and I contemplated some of the common difficulties experienced by clients trying to increase software adoption. A few points came up, but one theme rang through above all others - how do I get my business to buy in to this project/change? This topic transcended project value, size and duration. It was as equally challenging for a Marketing Manager trying to agree an event list as it was to an IT Director trying to agree funding for a new workflow project.
With this issue in mind I wanted to give some consideration to its causes and what the key requirements were to getting past it. To me, the problem sounds like a sales challenge. The clients are struggling to sell the benefits of their project to the business. I was immediately reminded of a quote from American author, Dan Pink: "Like it or not we are all in sales now". In his book 'To Sell Is Human', Dan gives insight in to the social science of selling and promotes the idea that we are actually already born with the ability to sell, but grow to doubt ourselves. He is probably right. Anyone who has ever attempted to feed a toddler food that the child doesn't want, or tried saying no to a teenager who wants to come home late, will probably already understand that the techniques of selling start at a young age.
So, if we already have the pre-requisite skills, why do we struggle to apply them? Well the answer according to Mark McCormack, global sports agent, is the fear of rejection. When we approach a challenge, past experience tells us that we already know how the parties involved will react, so it probably isn't worth the effort again. This leads me to consider what I know about the best sales people I encounter, and they all have a common character trait - they never give up!
So with tenacity and a refusal to accept 'no', how do we create the interest and agreement that we need from our colleagues and stakeholders? If we want to be able to convince others of what we want, we must first articulate the detail of what's in it for them. It's a lot easier to sell somebody something that they covet (iPhone 7 anyone?), but it is a lot harder to convince them if they don't value it. Fortunately, most projects boil down to a combination of requirements including reduced effort, greater profit and better user experience – you just have to articulate these benefits to the individuals involved. Look for quick wins, understand frustrations and you start to make things more personal to answer the 'what's in it for me' question from colleagues.
If you are still struggling to verbalise a response to that question, help is at hand! The LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions Client Advising team can help you coherently deliver that answer. We are after all, all in sales now.