Selling your ideas
by NEIL POTTER
Likely you have noticed that, when trying to make the slightest movement in process improvement, you end up having to sell your colleagues on a concept, persuade them to give time or money, or somehow get them to say “yes”. Many software developers and process people cringe at the thought of being a salesperson. After all, it requires polyester pants, wide flares, and the nerve to say “What will it take for you to drive this car home tonight for your sweetheart?” But maybe you do have to sell, and it could be possible that there’s a better way. And what’s more, I’ll bet you already know how to sell.
Think back to an example of when you were in a store and had an exceptional experience with the salesperson. The treatment you received was the best you ever had. Write down some of the characteristics of the salesperson that made the experience so effective.
Your list might include the following items:
Cared about what I needed
Understood me and my priorities
Knowledgeable in the product
Allowed the product to sell itself
Didn’t sell me a more expensive item than I needed
Didn’t pressure me
Listened to my questions and gave me direct answers
Steered me in a direction to fit my needs
Gave me a fair price
Provided a good return policy
Offered a trial to evaluate the product
Provided excellent post-sale support
Wherever we travel in the world and ask this question, we get exactly the same answers. This list, or one you might come up with, contains many of the principles of good selling. The principles on your list work because your list is the one you said works for you. The principles focus on the agenda of the customer, not of the salesperson. The salesperson’s agenda should be to understand the customer’s agenda!
Now think back to those salespersons who made you cringe before. Then vow in front of your mirror tonight never to do any of those things again!