"Ninety percent of selling is conviction, and 10 per cent is persuasion."
Great Quote. However, as leaders, we usually end up at that crossroads where we have that one opportunity to close the deal, to persuade -- the meeting with our boss, the presentation to the board of directors, or the pitch to our customer.
Conviction and hard work may have gotten you to that point. But now, when push comes to shove, it is all about persuasion. You walk into that room to make your case and you want to walk out of the room with the prize. You have one shot to persuade. Your objective is clear. You want something from your audience.
Five things to focus on for that critical meeting:
1. 'Seed' the topic in advance!
Provide succinct, cogent pre-reading. Have some conversations about the topic with key stakeholders so that they are engaged and vested in the outcome, in the variables of the decision. No one wants to be surprised, or blindsided. Serious issues, big decisions are not made well on the spot; When you ask your audience for a decision, when they haven't had time to deliberate, you risk a quick decision that is final. And it may not be to your liking. Respect the decision-makers by "seeding" the topic, by giving them time to evaluate.
2. For crying out loud, why are you there?
Tell your audience why you are there and what you are looking for right away- having been on the other side of the table, there is nothing worse than sitting through the first 30 minutes of a presentation and still not knowing what is being asked.
3. It's a negotiation!
Assume you are never going to get everything you ask for. Therefore, as with any negotiation, understand your non-negotiables; understand where you are willing to give. If you are asking for five things and two of them are critical, have a game plan that gets you these critical items. For example, you can't position each ask with equal vehemence and urgency, but for those critical non-negotiables, you hold your ground, you take the risks, you put your hand in the fire.
4. Know your audience!
Understanding your leadership style is critical. We all have different ways that we lead, communicate and engage. Once we have an awareness of our style, we can better understand the styles of the people with whom we engage, and adjust accordingly. I recently worked with a client who was presenting to his Board. He had a big objective to attain through his presentation and we walked through the various styles of his Board members. One was a big picture guy; the other was into financial details we created a game plan as to how his one presentation could resonate with five different individuals. (He met with the financially curious person in advance of the meeting to walk her through the kind of details that she needed to be comfortable)
5. Make the Ask!
I'm always amazed at how often the objective is left hanging out there with ambiguity. Be very clear as to what you are asking for, or you end up with one of ten variations of what you really need if you end up with anything at all. Make the ask. When you get approval, recap and clarify for understanding. Leave no room for ambiguity.
When it's crunch time, it is all about persuasion!