The recent LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions user forums included a session on selling Lexis Visualfiles internally to the business. I am sure that a number of the delegates thought, "Oh that is not something that is relevant to me", but is that actually the case?
Consider this - you have identified that the implementation of a change (a software upgrade, development of a new workflow, purchase of a licenced module and so on) will be of benefit to the firm, but in order to successfully complete the project you need additional budget, extra resource and backing from the leadership team. In order to secure all of these, you will need to ‘sell' your proposal to the decision makers.
Undoubtedly, your first thoughts are, "Hang on a minute, I am not a sales person!", but pulling a quote from Simon Farthing's session, "Like it or not we are all in sales now", a thought originally articulated by the business author Daniel H. Pink. So your next thought might be, "but what do I know about selling?". Well actually, probably more than you think! Each day in our professional and personal lives we market ourselves – our experiences, our skills, our ideas and our opinions to others. Yes, some may be more adept and confident at doing this than others, but we all have the ability and increasingly we are going to need to refine these skills.
As part of my research for this blog, I Googled: ‘What makes a successful sales person?'. I was surprised at the variety of key indicators returned. Whilst many made sense, I concluded that actually, internal selling is more about enabling and facilitating credible proposals, that will assist business decision making. To this end, employing the following key strategies can help:
- Plan and prepare – The old adage "Failing to plan is planning to fail" is particularly apt. Any Dragons Den fans will know that adlibbing rarely works when you are trying to sell a proposition, and especially one that involves money!
- Engage key people – Target those who will be involved, interested or impacted. It is far easier to convince people to embrace and champion a proposal that will bring them direct benefit.
- Align with current business objectives – Even a top sales person will struggle to sell a proposal that fails to contribute to the realisation of existing strategic goals. Align the deliverables of the project with the larger business objectives of the organisation.
- Outline any barriers or risks – Identify oppositions, concerns and obstacles that may be raised and demonstrate how these can be addressed.
- Map a clear success path – Define what will be accomplished and how it will be measured.
Adopting the strategies outlined above will hopefully help turn a daunting task, that you might have felt was beyond your experience, into something that is simply a formalisation of skills that you are actually already using in your day to day role.