Robert-photo-w-icon-150-4-7-10-FINAL4-150x150Earning the customer’s commitment on your proposed solution often requires the successful completion of many intermediate steps that may affect multiple shareholders within the customer’s organization.

Different stakeholders play different roles in the decision process with some being more influential than others. Here are 3 ways to earn commitment from the key decision-makers:

1. Be a partner, not a peddler

Act as a problem-solving business person, a partner more committed to making them money than taking it. Build internal advocates by addressing the needs of various stakeholders in a way that is most relevant to their roles & responsibilities. During the discovery process, ask questions that uncover value-generating opportunities for each key stakeholder. Seek to produce quantifiable value that helps execute their strategies and achieve their goals. Avoid positioning yourself like a commodity – being better, faster or cheaper than the competition. The real competition is the customer’s current process.

2. Speak the language of the customer

Speak to customers in the language of management, the language of money…their decision will be made using this language. Each stakeholder speaks a different language. Translate stakeholders’ everyday functional responsibilities from their language of things (units, pounds, hours, etc.) into the language of money (How much does a unit cost? How many units/dollars can be produced or reduced?). Recognize the primary challenge and propose solutions in the language of money that address it, plus as many secondary needs as possible.

3. Prioritize the payback

Not all stakeholders’ needs are equal. Identify the stakeholders most affected by resolving the primary need. It’s not always the person with the highest title – look for those who are most knowledgeable about the circumstances or most engaged in your discussion. When obstacles are presented by stakeholders whose needs are secondary, overcome the barriers by prioritizing the secondary need versus the primary. Consider how much the primary’s payback amount or period may be compromised by trying to also meet a secondary need. Is the payback amount increased or payback period shortened by addressing the secondary need? If not, use the deteriorated payback for the primary as the reason to preserve it as the highest priority and gain the commitment of the majority of stakeholders.

What methods do you use to identify decision-makers?

How do you gain the commitment of stakeholders?

 

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