By Dave Liu, AsAmNews Board Member
- Why is it important to learn how to sell to a group?
Hopefully, at this point in your career, I don’t need to convince you of the importance of selling. It’s a prerequisite for getting a job, retaining a client, or convincing a client to part with their hard-earned cash. Without basic sales skills, your career gets off to a slow start or gets stuck in neutral.
As you plan your way up the corporate ladder, critical decisions are rarely the responsibility of just one person. Often, you will have to convince not a decision-maker, but potentially a group of opponents. As such, mastering the art of selling to a group is essential, especially as you move up the corporate ladder. You must master this skill to get employees to follow you off a cliff, management committees to anoint you worthy of an early promotion, partners to say “yes” to your projects, and boards of directors to hire you. rather than their buddies and offspring.
If you can’t convince a group, you might as well say goodbye to your career. No one ever gets very far unless they master this skill.
- What are the key tactics for convincing a group?
Here are some basic things to consider in order to convince a group to approve your ideas or, at worst, not stop them:
- Make your recognition. When you started your job, I hope you charted your career path. Seeing the obstacles ahead applies to every step, every day, for every interaction, especially in meetings. Talk one-on-one with each committee member to find out who could blow your suggestion and who will support it. By throwing in this kind of preparatory work, your goal is to know the outcome before you walk into the meeting. Otherwise, as Sun Tzu warned in the fifth century BCE, “you have already lost.”
- Discover the motivations. Your acknowledgment should give you some insight into people’s motivation to support or rescind your deal. You need to get to know your colleagues and observe their behaviors. Become fully aware of their heuristics, those mental shortcuts that help them solve problems and make judgments, often too quickly, that can lead to irrational or inaccurate conclusions. Discern the true motivations of each participant and address them individually.
- Use peer pressure. Peer pressure and social influences are extremely important in consensus decision-making. We all want to be part of the pack and it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, especially if you mess up. The key is to orchestrate the meeting so that the momentum builds in your favor until approval becomes a foregone conclusion.
- How do I identify and neutralize my enemies in a group?
As I climbed the corporate ladder, I was always careful of people whose sole intention was to fuck me and make themselves look good. You never know who it might be – a two-faced client, a conniving peer, or even an insecure boss. As you rise through the ranks, keeping your head on a pivot and reading the play is essential to your survival.
Groups can be problematic because they tend to be made up of professional non-smilers who may not say “no” but certainly won’t give a “yes” as easily as you handed over $10 for popcorn. movies. It can be insecure people who walk around the back of every meeting. They don’t like any idea that hasn’t been patented by them and need the best ideas to be theirs. The solution? Leave them! Leave enough breadcrumbs so that even a blind pigeon can find the trail and the idea becomes its own.
Once they’ve latched onto your idea, be sure to say, “Jimbo, that’s a great idea!” and shower them with compliments. Just make sure that when the battle is over and the dust settles, the powers that be know who did it.
Another way to strengthen your case to a group and counter your enemies is to take advantage of belief bias, where people draw the wrong conclusions based on what they already believe to be true. For example, one could conclude that all bankers are psychopaths, and all psychopaths are murderers, and therefore all bankers are murderers. It may sound silly, but people do it all the time.
Think about what your enemies already believe. Then use it as the basis of your argument. Maybe they think the Internet is a fad? OK, so focus on the physical retail aspects of the business. Or do they think the project is too small? I understood. Convince them it’s just a stepping stone to a bigger prize.
Finally, remember that even the most stubborn group cannot fight human nature. Your audience is more likely to remember your words if you use anchoring biases to convince them. It’s when a person making a decision relies too much on one piece of information. Anchor bias will encourage you to hold on to a crappy stock that has lost value because you’ve anchored your estimate of its value on the price you paid rather than its current fundamentals. Once in this trap, you will illogically hold a stock in the hope that it will return to its purchase price. So start your argument with an opening anchor that makes the eventual option attractive. Anchor the beginning so that the end looks like a win for all!
About the Author
David is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded several entertainment, investment and technology companies, and worked on Wall Street for nearly 25 years.
He went from an entry-level position as an analyst at the investment bank Jefferies at the head of the Internet and digital media group and was one of the youngest managing directors in the company’s history. As one of the only general managers of color in the company, he managed to break through the bamboo ceiling. He not only worked hard, but also played the corporate game.
Dave also serves on the board of directors of Asian American Media Inc, the parent company of AsAmNews. He is also one of our biggest donors.
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