influencing-a-decision-makerjpgMost business decisions are a mix of the rational and emotional and the personal and the organisational. This means, as set out in the chart, that your ability to get a proposal heard and approved depends on three clear variables:

  1. Your own personal credibility, including your track record of success, your capabilities and what others say about you.
  2. Your relationship with the decision maker, and your ability to engage the decision maker in a meaningful dialogue on your idea.
  3. The quality of the idea and the impact it will have on the business.

In short, it’s not just about the idea itself. It’s also about you and your relationship with the person who has the power to say yes or no.

To have the maximum chance of approval you should be able to address all three factors. If you can only cover two of the three factors, then you should expect the following responses:

  1. Thanks, but no thanks. Your relationship and personal credibility will mean that your idea is heard, but the lack of business impact means it won’t be approved. Focus on developing new proposals with a clearer and more compelling effect on business performance.
  2. Who are you again?. In this case you have, at best, a 50:50 chance of getting your idea accepted. You simply do not have a good enough relationship with the decision maker. Perhaps your track record and the quality of the idea means that it gets accepted, but if the decision maker doesn’t know you she may just ignore the message.
  3. Why should I believe you on this? Apart from the bull’s-eye position of #4, this is the next best position to be. But even where you have a reasonable personal relationship with the decision maker, if you’re not seen as an expert in the area you’re proposing you can expect to face serious questions about your proposal.

How well do you plan to cover all three of the success factors as you develop your business proposals?

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.