How to get buy-in for your ideas
Notice how some great ideas never made it past the initial concept, while other mediocre ideas seem to sail through with leadership on board? Sometimes, how you sell your ideas to decision makers to get buy-in is just as important as what you’re selling.
Know Your Decision Makers
Most people who end up in decision making positions in organizations have common traits — those we might call “natural leaders” are assertive, bold, direct, results-oriented, forceful, strong-willed, and can be challenging and skeptical. This is your audience. They are busy and probably have a lot of different ideas vying for their attention. If you adapt your presentation specifically to their needs, you’ll set yourself up for greater success.
Executive summaries exist for a reason — people in decision making positions have a limited amount time to dedicate to each thing that comes across their plate. In order to get buy-in for your ideas, edit it down to your top three bullet points:
- What you do want to do
- Why it’s important
- What will the outcome be
You should be able to answer each of these items in one short sentence — no more. This is not about saying everything you’ve prepped about the idea — this is about getting their attention. If you do it well, they will ask you for more information (so make sure you’re prepared to go into greater depth!).
Most people have that little voice in the back of their head questioning their ideas — leaders simply have learned how to beat that little voice down so that it’s not expressed to anyone. If you want to bring them along, you have to do the same thing. In fact, sometimes leaders will push back on ideas just to see if you stand behind them. They are testing your confidence and your job is to not waver in your commitment! So many people go into the conversation and sabotage their success waffling when pushed. Stand your ground and reiterate your bullet points.
And remember, confidence is just as much about body language. Our brain subconsciously picks up on these queues and it has a significant impact on how we perceive what we’re being told. So sit up straight, or even lean forward towards the person you’re talking to just slightly. Keep your posture open by not crossing your arms. You want to take up space in the room and make it clear that it’s all about you.
Decision makers like to be inspired! This goes hand-in-hand with confidence because only confident people can sell those big, bold ideas. When you’re pitching your vision, the more bold you go the better the odds of getting their attention. Remember, you can always reign in an idea to make it realistic to implement, but you can rarely ramp it up once you’ve sold it. Inspire them with the possibilities and how they drive those high-level business goals.
Finally, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again! Sometimes to get buy-in for your ideas, you have to repeat them over and over and over again. Marketing experts know that an audience needs to hear something seven times before it breaks into their conscious thought and they can act on it. And sometimes, they might love your idea but the timing may not have been right for other reasons. Keep it top of mind by bringing it up when it makes contextual sense to do so. You’re not being annoying. You’re doing your job.
I’m an organizational psychologist and executive/performance coach. I help individuals find greater levels of happiness and professional success, and organizations to create amazing employee experiences. Visit me at Zen Workplace.