When we hear the words ‘buy-in’ – what are we thinking? Oftentimes, it’s about getting financial backing, or the support of a board-member or investor, perhaps an enterprise agency’s commitment to our proposal or proposition. In every instance, buy-in comes down to securing a key outcome by bringing people with you and successfully communicating your story.
How does buy-in work and how do you get it?
Recently, in the context of a programme I’m currently working on, I was asked – so how does buy-in work, and most importantly, what’s the best way to make sure you get it? There are some simple steps that will help you in every instance, but most critically, doing your homework is the best place start.
What do I mean when I say homework? Well, first and foremost – no meeting or presentation should be approached without basic preparation. I know we don’t always get abundant amounts of time to prep, but some straightforward tactics can be employed to assist in this situation! Remember that, in most instances, you are being asked to attend a meeting or have set about initiating interaction for a very specific reason – so have that output in mind, but be aware that you also need to consider the stakeholder’s perspective.
So, rule number one – think about the person, organisation or authority you’re going to talk to – what’s their story? What are they looking for? What are their expectations? It’s key that you don’t steamroller in with all your information, without understanding what their agenda is.
How might you do this? Well, put simply, it’s about doing a bit of intelligence gathering. Sometimes this is extremely straightforward – and easily done by cursory internet searches or similar approaches. If this doesn’t deliver what you’re looking for, it may be helpful to ask colleagues or contacts who have dealt with the organisation or individual, or to access other primary reference points – such as articles or profiles. It’s really important that you know what matters to this person or organisation and why that is.
What do you want to achieve?
The next critical step is in getting a clear-sighted view on what you wish to achieve or your objectives for meeting or engaging with this stakeholder. It might be straightforward – you’re seeking funding or applying for a specific support – or more unique to your needs, a strategic alliance or promotional relationship. Whilst being well-versed on the stakeholder’s views is hugely important, you must now begin to ‘put together the jigsaw’ of your rationale. So, what is it we want to achieve? What are we expecting from this meeting? What messages about ourselves and our organisation, its plans and successes do we need to really communicate? Being clear in what your output or objective is, underpinned by your business’s journey and [from my earlier point] why the stakeholder might wish to ‘buy-in’ – creates a very effective ‘buy-in jigsaw’ for you.
Know your story
Know your story. Be passionate about what has driven your business, concept or product – remember that people buy people. They also buy the quality of the proposition and the passion that drives it. Be authentic. Be yourself. But avoid being too casual. If there are issues that you know may crawl out of the woodwork, be prepared to address them – you will lose buy-in straight away if you hide or ignore something that could be easily explained, or clarified. Again, remember – people, proposition, passion. Don’t be mechanical. The best outcomes are achieved when there is fluidity, and ease in interaction.
Finally, always be comfortable to take questions – and if you don’t know, say it, but revert with the answer when you have it. Remember, where buy-in is concerned… authenticity is critical.
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