Identify the things youre completely certain about. This is not a time for if, maybe, or might. Only address the things you know for sure. Its about what will happen versus what might happen. In a world filled with uncertainty, what are you certain about?
Make your list of hard trends; the things youre certain about. For example, smart phones and smart pads (such as the iPhone and iPad) are gaining more popularity every day. Is this a trend that you know will continue, or will people eventually trade in their new smart phones and go back to the traditional cell phones of yesterday? The answer is obvious. People wont go back. So look at the current technologies available and how people are changing behaviors based on their use. Look at the sales trends. Look at your customers. Look at the economy. Look at everything around you and get clear on whats a hard trend and whats going to pass.
Then, after talking about the pain and how youve solved it, and after overcoming the objections, go into your list of certainties. You could say, Here are things Im certain about in the marketplace and in our company ... . Based on this certainty, here is why implementing this technology or solution is low-risk and a winner.
Youll find that this approach is a powerful sales tool.
Sometimes, cost really is an issue, especially these days with many companies streamlining both budgets and staff. So its quite possible that you can go through all the steps outlined here, only to have the decision maker say, This sounds great. But we really dont have the money to fund it. At that, your reply should be, What would it take to get the funding? And then be quiet. Throw the objection back at them and then listen. After a short silence, theyll tell you exactly what needs to happen.
Interestingly, people always manage to find money when theyre excited about an opportunity. Youve probably seen this in your own life. Your teenager wants a car and asks you to buy it. You say no but that youll match whatever money they save to buy the car. A few months later, your teenager has saved a substantial amount of money (by teenagers standards). With your matching money, he or she has enough to purchase a quality used car. Or maybe an unemployed friend learns of a business opportunity that requires an initial investment of several thousand dollars. Even though they are unemployed and have limited cash at their disposal, they often find the money to invest in the new business.
So when someone says, We dont have the money, it doesnt really mean that theres no money. It simply means that what youre offering isnt a priority, doesnt have urgency, and isnt relevant to them. Therefore, ask yourself, Have I made this idea, technology, or concept a priority? Have I made it urgent? Have I made it relevant? If not, then youll likely hear the default answer of, We dont have the money.
However, if you have made the idea, technology, or concept a high priority, urgent, and relevant, then all of a sudden the other party can, Shift some things around. As other things become less important and your idea becomes more important, the money is suddenly available. So you have to place your idea, technology, or concept at the top of the list of priorities and then show the CEO, CFO, board, or decision maker why its there.
This approach to selling your ideas up is a switch for many in IT, because even after all these steps and all these discussion points, our passion for technology often over rules and we slip back to a discussion of the new tools features instead of what it will do for the listener. Its important to remind yourself well before the meeting that if you havent done the groundwork to get the other party excited or on board, youll likely go nowhere. As youre busy talking about features and benefits, the other person is thinking about costs, risks, ifs, and maybes. Thats why you need to solve all those things ahead of time. This is really just an anticipatory approach to selling youre anticipating the problems, the rejections, the objections, and the concerns so you can overcome them easily and turn them around.
Anyone who has worked with C-level executives knows that leaders get excited about many things, but theyre working with the weight of costs, controls, and constraints on them. Therefore, you need to challenge those costs, controls, and constraints. Instead, make what you offer about priority, relevancy, and strategic imperatives and youll get your ideas sold.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the worlds leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients better understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal best seller Flash Foresight: How To See the Invisible and Do the Impossible as well as the highly acclaimed Technotrends.