Published in The Business News on January 3rd, 2022.
When proposing a new solution, whether that be to your boss, your client or you are simply working to establish buy-in from a colleague, the biggest hurdle is to establish trust. If the other party does not trust you, how can they trust your solution?
For me, I ask myself the questions, that I would expect my boss, client or co-worker to ask me. I poke holes in my theories, I play devil’s advocate and I work to prove that I am wrong, right up until I am positive that I am right.
Start off positive
First, identify the problem and give a brief overview of my solution. The problem is X, the solution is Y. This is pretty simple, as you already trust you, and you already have a solution in mind.
The next step is to ask and answer the following: “Why will it work”. I believe that this solution will work because I understand the problem, as explained above, and I’m addressing each aspect of the problem, as such. Provide examples of where it has worked before, other businesses that use the solution and their positive outcome.
It’s early in your proposal process. You are confident in yourself and your solution. Leverage your experience and really strut your stuff. If you are unable to get confident in this stage, reconsider your solution.
Here come those poked holes.
In this stage, we focus on the risks? What could go wrong? Why would it not work? Work through scenarios and list problems. Be realistic but be thorough. You do not have to explain why an alien landing, could complicate the implementation of a new ERP software, but you should consider all human, operational, technical, environmental and financial factors, that could play in, to that successful or unsuccessful ERP implementation.
You are looking to identify the problem, with your solution. Be tough on yourself. I assure you; your boss, client or coworker is going to be tougher.
Back To Confidence
Switching gears again, lets now identify how we are going to minimize those risks. Using the scenario from earlier, Jim in accounting may not have time to enter GL codes into that new ERP system. We will manage that risk, by bringing in a summer intern, to assist with AP and AR, thus freeing up Jim to enter those GLs.
What you are saying, is that you understand that the solution isn’t perfect and that there are risks, but you have thought this through and have addressed each risk, with an appropriate solution. Just as you did, when identifying the risks, be thorough with your minimization of risks.
Work outside the box and be creative with your solutions. Nothing is off the table, except for the work that you will not actually do. Do not offer any solutions that are unreasonable or genuinely unrealistic. For example, you cannot be in two places at once, and if you are not in a position to hire, do not offer resources that you do not have. Solve problems, do not write fantasies.
As I said earlier, it’s all about trust. As the leader of a business, I get all sorts of people emailing me, calling me and tracking me down at business events. The message is often about how great they are, how awesome their company is or how their solution is an open and shut case of absolute perfection.
With our amazing solution, you can increase profits and lower costs. No muss, no fuss and it will even make you better looking.
Ahh… no. Wrong approach. Even if you caught my attention, you lost my trust, with your silly promises of perfection.
The right approach:
- Understand the problem and show that by explaining the problem.
- Have a good solution and demonstrate why it’s a good solution, by providing examples of where and why it has worked, and your knowledge of the solution.
- Acknowledge the risks, and then address each to manage expectation and build trust.
What that approach says is, “The most successful solution, to me, is the one that works, for you”. You care about my needs, and you are honest. In our business and personal lives, we value trust and honesty. We also value hard work and thoroughness. If you want to gain my business, buy-in or approval, start by gaining my trust.