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Why Settle for Being Persuasive? Build Buy-In Instead.

Chances are, you’ve had to be persuasive before. It’s a natural part of collaboration, leadership, and just plain being on the team. Need to build a case for more marketing dollars? Need to appeal for another employee? Need to prove that one of your tactics isn’t working and present a better way? 

Then you’ll need to be persuasive. But why stop there? Seeking buy-in — the fancy term for getting people behind something new — accomplishes goals and institutes real change better than a sales pitch ever could. But what are the hidden keys to building this precious commodity? 

First, and most importantly, don’t confuse buy-in with selling. Yes, you’re making a pitch, but true buy-in invites participants to discuss and debate. That process, and it really is a process, moves your peers from bystanders to truly vested stakeholders. Real buy-in fosters  a mutual respect that goes beyond simple compliance. The best approach is to present your ideas as drafts — something open to change — instead of foregone conclusions. 

Along with that, you’ll have to recognize that this can be a long process. At MJM, we often present proposals first to one or two leaders, who will then invite more of their colleagues to hear the presentation a second time. We’ll answer questions over email and during meetings sometimes for weeks and even months before getting the green light to move forward with the proposed project. People need time to digest and synthesize information, and you’ll be well-served to be welcoming and responsive as they do that. Consider their questions and even their pushback as positive signs that they’ve taken your plans seriously.

Second, be clear and concise about the problem, how to solve it, and how to measure progress. This is vital for creating true alignment. While we may all speak the same language, we use and interpret it differently. Your peers and superiors hear your words and apply their own conclusions and connotations to them instinctually; their perception may be very different from what you intended. That means clarity is doubly important. Avoid esoteric or vague language when possible, and use concrete dates and metrics every time you can.

Finally, be prepared. Buy-in can’t be achieved without credibility, and credibility relies on preparation. Gathering relevant data, writing out basic next steps, and consulting others with more experience are just a few ways to position yourself as a knowledgeable guide and gain the buy-in you’re seeking. 

There’s no need to build buy-in alone! Contact the experts at MJM for help communicating your company’s next big change. 

Marketing is Your Last Step

It was my first day at a new job and I walked in, quite literally, to phones that were ringing off the hook. Curious, I approached the area where a pair of receptionists, who, as pleasant as could be, were fighting a losing game of whack-a-mole with the blinking red lights on their consoles. When I asked why today had such a high call volume, they told me “It’s always like this.”

If job security had a ringtone, I had a lot of it.

However, as awesome as that was, this company wasn’t ready to handle the results of their marketing. Their team had executed a focused strategy to get their name out and it worked.

Focus on Operations First

But little attention had been paid to the infrastructure and operations necessary to handle things like call volume or adequate parking. Even more broadly, no one had considered how mundane things like poorly-designed forms or long phone wait times can undo months — and in this case years — of strategic marketing. 

When your prospective customer finally picks up the phone or fills out the contact form on your website, you must be ready to follow through on your promises. Jimmy John’s couldn’t promise “Freaky Fast Delivery” without putting in place everything possible to guarantee that delivery is, in fact, freaky fast. 

Marketing Comes Last

In other words, what many people don’t realize is that operations is the first step to effective marketing. At MJM, we take that even further. To us, operations is marketing and well-designed operations lead to a stellar patient experience that, in turn, leads to word-of-mouth referrals. Only once those things are in place should full-scale marketing efforts be launched. 

That was a welcome mindset for the receptionists whack-a-moling their way through phone call after phone call. I paused the company’s marketing that very day so we could focus on operations for a time. When we restarted our marketing plan a few months later, the phones were still ringing with one notable exception: we’d gotten better at handling our call volume.

And just about everything else we did.