You can probably think of a time when you had a great idea regarding service delivery improvements. It was such a great idea, you assumed that once you presented it that it would be adopted right away to cheers from your colleagues. The trouble was that when you pitched it you may have only heard crickets in the room. Why did that happen? Well, it is probably because the idea was only one-dimensional. To really persuade people, you have to look at it from a multi-dimensional approach, where several angles and methods are taken into account.
The real question is, “How do we persuade people?”
The key to this understanding is that there is more to it than just a great idea, and that even if we can persuade someone we need to keep them engaged long-term to continue to deliver this level of service improvement initiative.
The ancient Greeks realized this and called this type of approach “rhetoric.” Aristotle outlined that there were three components: logos, pathos, and ethos.
Logos speaks to the logical reasoning behind what we are proposing. This is where many people who cannot get their point across stop, and because they do not leverage the other components may fall short.
Pathos appeals to people’s emotions, which is a strong tool. If you can get people to emotionally connect to your proposal through storytelling for example, it will improve your ability to persuade your audience.
Lastly, ethos is the ethical proof that your audience is looking for. Does the pitch or idea have the details that make this a credible proposal?
With these in mind we need to further build out the proposal in terms of details. This would include such things as:
- Reciprocity – If you give, you shall receive.
- Scarcity – What’s unique in your proposal?
- Authority – What makes you credible?
- Consistency – People like consistency, so use that to your advantage.
- Liking – Have you ever noticed that people who are well liked can get things done easier?
- Consensus – People want to follow the crowd to an extent. Show that your proposal is being done elsewhere successfully.
Even if the proposal is a discussion to improve service delivery, it still requires a better depth in details. While you may initially assess that this might be out of your skill pool, this may be where a Business Relationship Manager (BRM) could be enlisted to assist in facilitating these discussions. A BRM understands the business and the outcomes it is trying to achieve. It is they who can be your guide in this persuasion process. An important first step is to not only understand your audience; what is their mood or position around how you are looking to propose improvements to service delivery? Having a BRM ‘in the back pocket’ to guide you through this process will ensure that you can build out the proposal with the building block points we outlined above in a way that will appeal to the business.
The next step is to start the discussion. Since the persuasion process is ongoing, we will regularly collect information supplied by the business. We need to make sure that we document critical points in the business language which we, as a provider, can understand and relate back to the rest of IT. These discussions could get fairly involved, so we need to keep them on target and ask questions to avoid assumptions. When the people we are trying to influence trust us as a knowledgeable partner, influence becomes a whole lot easier.
To summarize, enlisting a business relationship manager who has skills to be able to use these tools to influence and persuade their business partners is key long-term. Their ability to use listening and observational skills to identify opportunities and problems will help you to better facilitate this process improvement. They should also be able to influence and persuade your business partners around value realization as well as senior leadership for a culture of value management. Having this resource will allow them to focus.