How to Convince Your Boss
Or anyone else, for that matter.
Hey folks 👋, I'm Kenneth Burke. #BurkeBits is where I share stories, data, and frameworks to help you become a better marketer. Subscribe for free to level-up.
So many good ideas never see the light of day, because you can’t get the person sitting across from you to buy in.
It’s easy to walk away from those situations frustrated, thinking the person “just doesn’t get it.” But that’s usually not the case.
Usually the problem is you didn’t sell the idea.
You have to convince them that your idea is worth doing, and that it’s a better choice than whatever else they were going to do.
And frankly you’re not always right.
Let’s fix that.
I can’t promise this will work every time, but this is the simple framework I use to get buy-in and move an idea forward. It’s also what we recommend at Text Request to prospects who want to use our service but still have to get the OK from upstairs.
1. Refer to your #1 goal.
What has your department or company stated as the #1 most important thing for you to accomplish? It’s typically something like a revenue target, a percentage of market share, or to reach a certain growth rate.
Whatever the goal, that’s your starting point.
(If you don’t have a stated goal for your department or company, take a look at this post to figure it out.)
Your idea had better help the team achieve that #1 goal. If it doesn’t, then you can stop here. It’s not important. At least not right now.
If your idea does help you move towards the goal, then great, let’s keep talkin’.
2. Define the problem.
If you had no problems, you’d be hitting your goal easy peasy lemon squeezy. But hitting the goal is actually difficult difficult lemon difficult—so what’s the problem? What’s keeping you from hitting that goal?
Label it. Flesh it out. Be able to clearly articulate that problem, what’s causing it, and what’s currently preventing you from solving it.
This is not always easy to do.
For instance, why aren’t your ads bringing in enough leads? Is the problem the creative, your product, the audience, something else, or all of the above?
Or, why aren’t you able to upsell more existing clients? Is the problem your current processes, employees, the message, the technology, or something else?
You’ve got to know the problem, and what it’s keeping you from achieving, before you can solve it.
3. Present your solution.
You’ve defined the goal and figured out the problem keeping you from hitting it. Great! Now what are you going to do to solve the problem and hit the goal?
Hint: This is where your idea comes into play.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Most people will “get it” when you say: We’re all trying to hit this goal, but that problem is in the way. I think I’ve got a good way to fix that problem so we can hit this goal.
My memory’s not perfect, but I’m pretty sure 100% of people have been open to ideas after hearing that. It works on me, too.
Then show them how your idea works, and explain why it’s the best choice to solve the problem and hit the goal. I’ll give you an example at the end.
This will take time to research and plan. The more thorough you are, the better (within reason—you know what level of detail the other person cares about).
4. Show how to implement it.
One of the most common rebuttals to any new idea is: How are we supposed to do that?
It’s a valid question.
Ideas are usually a dime a dozen, if not cheaper. Real value comes in the execution, and you’ve got to be prepared for that.
Budgets, processes, timelines, personnel—these are all crucial pieces to executing a good idea. Want your idea to succeed? Work through these details ahead of time and present a plan.
It will be tempting to sugarcoat things, to say implementation won’t cost as much or that you’ll see results sooner. I find that with most experienced people, you’re better leaving that out. Even presenting a few challenges to implementation (and why they’re worth doing anyway) is valuable.
Just be honest and realistic.
5. Estimate the ROI.
Yes, marketers, even we have to be able to estimate the return on investment (ROI) of our ideas and “best practices”! If we can’t show how the pieces fit together to make money or hit goals, what are we really doing?
A good estimate for ROI includes:
Total time and money sunk into the idea
The amount of time you expect to save once the idea is implemented
How much money you expect to make from it
Any other tangential benefits
And the timeline in which you’ll start seeing these results
Few people will expect your estimate to be perfect. In most cases, the estimate will be based on your research and talking to others who’ve done something similar.
But it better be close. Within 10% is great, and the more open you are about what factors may affect it, the better (generally).
How to Apply It
Here’s a basic example from work. Let’s say an associate in a law firm is trying to convince one of the partners to use Text Request.
The goal: Increase billable hours.
The problem: People forget about meetings and miss court dates (yes, this really happens all the live long day), and no one answers phone calls anymore.
The solution: Start texting for appointment reminders.
The implementation: We’ll use Text Request to text from our office phone number on our computers (or smartphones). Our secretary can send the text reminders instead of leaving voicemail. I’ve got the details IT will need to review and approve it. It will take a couple days to set up, and then we’re good to go.
The ROI: With how many appointments we have, it will probably take about 30-45 minutes a week to send messages and handle responses. It’ll cost us $150/mo all-in, but we’ll make twice that for every kept appointment we save, and we ought to be able to save about 20 a month. It’s also faster than calling and leaving voicemail. If this works, there are some options to expand by billing for legal consultations by text, getting online reviews, and lead generation.
When can we start?
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Have questions about this topic or something you’re working on? Ask away! I’m an open book and happy to help.