These are not always the people at the top of the company.
There are usually people scattered around the company whose views are recognised, valued, and often sought.
Their judgement is trusted, their opinions proven and they have the ear of the top people
So look around you and ask yourself:
- Who gets involved in decisions that don’t appear to concern them or their department?
- Who do senior people within the organization go to for opinion?
- Who are the trusted right hand people of top management?
Once you have identified them you need to know what their interests are, and sell your idea to them in a way that chimes with their interests and values.
You should plan for the meeting as if it were any sales meeting where you are promoting a product or a service.
Before you meet with the influence, identify what is important to them personally and from a business perspective. What drives their decision making?
- Is it because it makes them look good?
- Does it position them for a promotion?
- Do they make decisions based on “what’s in it for me? “
- Do they look for the easiest option for them?
- Do they make decisions because they think they are seen as a leader?
- What pressures are they under?
- What are they trying to achieve for the business?
- What direction do they want the business to move in?
Once you understand their motivation you can tailor your pitch to them and anticipate and overcome any objections resistance the person may have to your idea.
Ask questions to get the influencer to sell themselves on your idea
Carefully plan the opening of the meeting. The first 90 seconds are crucial to the success of the meeting, so prepare your opening well and memorize it.
During the meeting, remember that the best way to persuade someone is not to tell them, but to lead them to the conclusion you want by presenting evidence and asking them questions .Their answers should support your idea, leading them to come to the same conclusion as you.
So prepare the questions you need to ask them, to lead them to your conclusion. Aim for 4 or 5 key questions.
Even so it may still be a difficult sell if you don’t both hit it off and they realize what you are trying to do, so be subtle and respond to their behavior towards you. You don’t want to make an enemy here!
The other way to operate is to establish a relationship with the influencers anyway, even if you don’t have a great idea to pitch. This will in turn broaden your sphere of influence-you might even become an influencer yourself, whose opinion is sought by management!