A classmate named “Howie” had a signature response to almost every exhortation that was meant to move him from one course of actions to another.  No matter how gifted the speaker or the written communication, Howie could be counted on to raise a simple question:  “And I should care because . . . ?”

We often believe that the power of what we say and/or do has the immediate impact of creating a compelling interest to do, buy, or follow.  When it does not, we generally think that others “just don’t get it.”  That is probably true.  But why do they “not get it”?

Generally, people do not get what we want because we have left it as important to us rather than told or shown them why it is also important to them.  In sales lingo, we may have shown them a “feature”, but we certainly have not made a “feature to benefit” conversion.

So, if you want to get people excited or engaged in what you are about, whether it is family succession or becoming a new client or changing behavior, here are some steps that will help you reach your goal.  If it sounds like Sales 101, it is that basic; and that is why it works:

Approach – Do your homework.   Set the stage by understanding whom you want to move.  Know what interests them; and, more importantly, know why it interests them.  You may have been around them for a long time, but do not confuse the length of a relationship with the depth of a relationship.  

Interview – For those of you who do not do this often, that is “code” for “be quiet and listen”.  Ask questions that give people an opportunity to talk in some detail about what is important to them and why it is important.  Ask permission (yes, you can even say “May I . . . ?”) to talk about how an idea you have can help them achieve something they value.

Demonstrate – Now you have an opportunity to talk.  Take advantage of this opportunity to stimulate their interest by making connections that satisfy their needs.  The most critical word in the previous sentence is “THEIR”.  People become engaged and apply discretionary effort and energy to work or to an idea because of their reasons, not yours.  

Negotiate – Realize that it may take longer than you would like to get something moving.  Sometimes when people jump on too quickly, they jump off just as quickly.  Remember that your initial discussion should be more about setting the stage for a lasting agreement; and remind them that this agreement requires work on their part as well.

Close – Confirm the understanding so that expectation of all parties are congruent.  If they are not, they will not stay engaged.  

Review and Revise – On a regular basis, get back with the individual(s) involved and make sure that their needs and interests are still being met.  If minor adaptations need to be made, give some time and energy to making adjustments that will be fair to all concerned.    Take nothing for granted.

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