During a coaching call on Sunday, Louis was excited to tell me that, having nailed his influencing goal, he had managed to secure a meeting the next day at which he would be pitching a proposal to several senior stakeholders.
The general direction of our work together is becoming recognised as an obvious promotion candidate, ready, willing, and able. And in the process, secure significant financial rewards.
He wanted to know how to make the most of the opportunity on Monday.
My first question, what’s your objective for the meeting?
Naturally, to make a good impression but what I really wanted to know is what did he want them thinking about him (specifically) and, what did he want them to do as a result of the meeting?
Too often I find people just pitching their idea to seniors without being specific about what reaction they want from them. Sometimes senior executives need a little help and are quite happy to be told what to do (by people they trust).
After throwing it around a little, he settled on an objective of them agreeing to present the proposal to the next executive committee meeting.
Then my line of questioning moved to: what’s in it for them? Why should they want to do it? What would get them so excited about it that they want to do it as a matter of priority?
Louis then did what most people do. He started telling me about all the benefits he and his colleagues would get.
I can’t go into the detail here, but it is worth noting that when thinking about what we want to achieve, it is quite natural to focus on how we will benefit if others accept it, after all, that’s why we’re doing it? However, what many forget to consider is that what we want, how we can benefit, could be miles away from what will get others excited.
Obvious point, but needs a determined, disciplined approach to nail it every time.
Pressing on, we eventually got to three key benefits (a little bit of intelligent guesswork making up for the lack of insight into their agendas), which focused on the problems the executives were likely to be dealing with, struggling with, needing solutions for.
Then our focus turned to how they could lose out if they agreed to present it to the executive committee?
Again, Louis’ initial response was, they can’t lose. So often we get so excited about the merits of our ideas that how could anyone possibly lose? But, you need to step aside for a while and look at the negatives, because they will for sure, just as you would when considering someone else’s idea and how it could affect you.
Whenever pitching, if you want to maximise your influence (and trust), make sure to cover the negatives or drawbacks to what you are proposing so that you are presenting a balanced view to help their decision-making.
We ended up getting to some very painful losses, although all of them traded off well against the benefits. If it works, this makes for a very transparent and mature consideration of the pros and cons and facilitates a swift decision.
And finally, how are you going to take control of the meeting, assert your positon, and make things happen for the benefit of all.
This whole process took just 15 minutes in our coaching call.
So, if you have a golden opportunity to make a great impression with your stakeholders:
- Get very clear on your objective (for that opportunity).
- Think carefully about how you can add benefit to those you wish to impress.
- Make sure to prepare to cover off the drawbacks.
- Plan how you are going to executive it.
Remember, this is not difficult, you just need to remember to invest time and energy in thinking it through. I could argue that Louis should have more intelligence about his stakeholder’s interests, but given the timing, he had to work from where he is. Next time, he’ll have gathered a lot more insight into their agendas.
Here are a few articles I sent to Louis to help him to finalise his approach that you may also find useful:
- Preparing to Influence Others
- Challenging Formidable Characters
- Gathering Political Intelligence (more for his future development)
Well, details are sketchy at the moment because Louis is moving so fast, but suffice to say that the stakeholders not only agreed to present the proposal to the executive committee, they invited Louis along too! Maybe they’d have done that anyway, who knows? But I do think we helped to stack the odds in Louis’ favour.
Serious about influence?
- Louis is on Breakthrough Influence Coaching, so if you’d like to have a quick chat about how this could work for you, let me know by email here.
- To take a more strategic approach to developing your influencing capability, take a look at the Master Practitioner. Although the quota is almost filled, given we are so close to the end of the month, I’ve extended the offer (40% plus extras) for anyone who want to start this month.
- Getting more specific, don’t forget these two great online courses – Building a Powerful Reputation and Making an Impact – no excuses with this one, designed to be completed in an hour!
Colin Gautrey is an author, coach, and trainer who specialises in the practical use of power and influence in large organisations. He has 25 years’ experience helping middle/senior professionals to survive, thrive and enjoy their work.
If you are ready to develop your influencing capability, become a member of Breakthrough Influence. If you are serious about becoming highly influential, fast, engage with Colin and he will help you get there in the most effective way possible.
Other articles by Colin:
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