Published in The Tennessean May 5, 2014
By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville
“How do I get buy-in from my customers, employees and vendors?”
I discussed the importance of listening two weeks ago. If you actively listen to the person with whom you are talking you should be able to respond to them in a way they will understand. But you also need to look at the communication from the viewpoint of the other person.
A great example is employee reviews. These are approached from two totally disparate viewpoints. The manager looks at the review as an opportunity to discuss the employee’s success at meeting business objectives. The employee looks at a review from a personal, career development viewpoint. If the manager discusses only company objectives and the employee’s success or failure at meeting these goals, the employee will not be as engaged as when the manager speaks of the growth of the employee and his or her opportunities for advancement. That’s not to say that company objectives are not important, but that they need to be tied to employee growth and satisfaction.
Similarly, when selling to potential clients, you need to look at the interaction from their perspective. What is important to them? Can they get the same or similar product or service elsewhere that meets their underlying needs? You might have the premier offering but if price is their hot-button issue, can you eliminate some features and meet their needs? Or if you have a low-price offering but service is the key issue, can you offer a more complete package at a higher price-point?
When training new employees or teaching a class or workshop, look at the instruction from the viewpoint of your audience. Tailor your presentation so that when you are done your audience will feel that the experience has been of benefit to them. If giving a presentation on the Affordable Care Act to business owners with less than 25 employees, spend time on the Small Business tax credit, not how the act affects large companies. The audience is more likely to buy-in to what you’re saying if they are personally interested.
Additionally, since you don’t necessarily know what kind of learners are in your audience, you need to combine visual alternatives with audio and hopefully some hands-on activities. I always welcome questions during workshops because that tells me if something I’m explaining is not understood. I can then explain a concept differently in future workshops. It also promotes audience participation. That adds interest to the workshop and participants can learn from each other.
Whether you are selling, negotiating, teaching, training or simply discussing an important issue, it is critical to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Listen and watch for visual clues to aim your communication at what the other party finds important.
Ed Rappuhn is a mentor, workshop facilitator, and the past-chair of SCORE Nashville. SCORE mentors guide entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses. Sign up for a free SCORE mentor, find out about our reasonably priced workshops and other services, or volunteer to become a SCORE member at www.scorenashville.org.