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CIO Upfront: Is your influence tool chest missing this effective approach?

Campbell Such | April 7, 2015
Here's an effective, easily implemented, practical approach to try the next time you have to present a proposal.

Step 3: Use the 'Power of contrast' when you deliver the solution options
Compared to a $15 cheese burger, a $35 gourmet burger seems high. Compared to a $100 bottle of wine, a $35 bottle seems low. This is the power of contrast.

Here's how to use that knowledge to shine the spotlight on your preferred option.

Present the most expensive solution first -- this sets the cost level for the solution for this problem. From then on the other options are unconsciously compared against this.

If you have three options then present the lowest cost one second. This will generally not be the optimal solution although valid and would deliver to the requirements of the project. However, it's likely this option will have restrictions in capability or functionality that will place limits on its value as a solution.

Then present your optimal solution last. This is where you need to put all your effort and, with enthusiasm, confidence and authority cover all the reasons why it's the right decision with the most value for the business.

Important next steps to get to 'Approved'
You probably know how to proceed after you've finished your presentation so this next step may seem obvious. However it's super important so let's review it anyway.

When you've finished your presentation of the options and answered any questions, the next step is to ask: "Do you have everything you need to make a decision?" If they say yes then ask for their approval to go ahead.

If they don't have everything, then it's critical to ask, "What else do you need to make a decision?" This is key because it makes sure you're able to uncover any lingering doubt. It makes sure that nothing is left to chance. Nothing is left on the table. You've done everything you could.

Address whatever comes out of this question (more work may be required). Once you've done that, ask again, "Do you have everything you need to make a decision" and then ask for approval.

This gives you the best chance of a decision, then and there, and minimises the chance of a delay.

If the answer is "I need to think about it" ask for a confirmation on what the next step is and the timing for a decision.

There are no absolutes in what drives, motivates and influences human behaviour. No one can guarantee that if you do this then that person will choose to do that. But some approaches and strategies are more likely to be effective than others.

A mentor once said: "Treat your behaviour like clothes -- reach into your wardrobe and put on the clothes best suited to the occasion."


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