I remember a long-ago staff meeting in which I was asked to share my thoughts on a proposal I didn’t much care for. I knew, though, if I were to argue and blurt out something like, “I think this is a horrible idea that could potentially debilitate our market share,” I wouldn’t have done myself any favors.
So I kept my emotions in check and learned a valuable lesson about how to make a valid point in a staff meeting that can potentially change the future direction of a particular initiative.
1. Remain calm — unemotional, even.
Don’t change your facial expression or display body language that shows you disagree with something being said. Simply and politely interject and casually reframe the issue under discussion: “If I may interject here, I think the real question we should be asking ourselves is … ”
2. Provide three points supporting your position.
Reinforce each one with a fact, statistic, or anecdote: “Why would we want to enter an already overcrowded marketplace with a new product line that strays from what we do best? First, we’ll be behind all of our competition in the market, and that’s not a place we’re accustomed to being. Do our customers really need or even want another choice? Also, some of them might even question why we’re moving away from our niche. We’ll be like Coors deciding to sell bottled water in the Nineties.”
3. Make a recommendation.
Say this: “I’m in favor of pouring our resources and talent into a new product line that will strengthen our current market share and not erode our credibility with customers.”
If your persuasive tactics are met with skepticism or downright ignored, bring in the heavy artillery: “Do we have data and examples that prove there is a need or desire for adding this to our product arsenal?”
If others are unable to come up with satisfactory answers, great. Your work here is done. But if they engage your artillery with their own, inquire about the source of that information.
This process works in non-meeting situations, too. Consider the people who work at a Kia dealership and need to convince BMW loyalists that Kia’s 2018 K900 luxury model (with a base price of $50,900) is an overall better value than that 528i sedan they’re driving now. Those salespeople don’t want to waste their time and energy talking about Kia’s lengthy and successful tradition of making mainstream, economy-friendly cars; they must focus on the fact that Kia is a luxury automobile maker, too, and emphasize that from visual, drivability and technological perspectives, the K900 compares favorably to the 528i. But add in options, and you’ll be paying a lot more to outfit that Bimmer with what comes standard on the K900.
See how easy that is?