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I must confess that I’m not the best salesman. Most of my peers in maintenance and reliability have many of the same character traits. The things that make us good at what we do are not to our advantage when it comes to sales. Many of us have been in the trenches and come up through the ranks, and frankly we hate the “dog and pony” show. We choose to separate ourselves from the politics of business and just get it done.
It really is a shame because there is usually no one better suited (from a knowledge standpoint) to drive projects and decisions up the corporate ladder. Those of us who have been in the trenches and seen what works and what doesn’t should stand up and move forward with our ideas. We need to gain the enthusiastic support of senior management because we are going to be asking them for money, people, equipment, etc. It may fall on you to put on that salesman hat and get that support. As a consultant employed to get these massive lubrication projects started, I’ve had to learn some of the basic sales skills. Following are five steps that can help you sell your project or idea to management.
This is usually pretty easy for technical individuals. We live with these problems every day, and as such have grown to know all the intricacies of them. The hard part is being able to convey that to others. You must be able to explain or demonstrate with evidence how the solution will reduce the pain felt by the company. You need them to trust your knowledge so they know you are guiding them down the correct path.
This is another thing that is tough for people of our particular skill set. You need to be able to paint a picture of what things will be like in the future. Specifically, you must make the connection between each of the tangible items you are creating and how it adds to the value of the finished solution.
One of the biggest problems I run into while helping guide clients through this process is that they assume that upper management can make these connections themselves. Remember, most of the people you are trying to sell these ideas to don’t live it every day. It’s your job to educate them. You should quickly walk through your deliverables list and help them see how each is essential to the quality of the overall solution. If possible, show models, mock-ups, demos or anything that can make it real and generate that spark of enthusiasm that will keep them working on your behalf in the potentially difficult days ahead.
In simple language, you must show that the plan you are proposing is simple and lean yet provides the quality level expected. Do everything in your power to assure management of that quality. This could mean that experts will need to be brought in to validate your decisions, or it could be as easy as inviting the managers to have review meetings during the process. Another easy sell is to show how your plan is in line with the industry or competitors’ best practices.
Introduce the team you will be working with during the project. These team members may need to call on upper management for help in getting resources (money, manpower, etc.) later down the road, and it’s much easier if they already know that the project is already pre-sold when that knock comes on their door. This makes the conversations easier, and knowing everyone is on the same page makes things go much smoother.
Managers are presented with lots of projects. You will need something to make yours stand out. It could be the processes that will be used during the project, the value to the company at the end of the day or simply the passion and enthusiasm that you show. There are many things that can make a project stand out, but the one I’ve found that helps the sale the most is the passion of the team or individual who is presenting the idea. When people are passionate about something, it’s contagious. If you can get this passion to spread to the person you are presenting to, you have nearly a 100-percent chance of a successful sale.
Above all else, your goal should be to make those people believe what you believe. If you are truly passionate about what you are proposing and you can get them to believe what you believe, the sale will happen effortlessly. Take the next step. Learn how Noria can help transform your lubrication program.