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IL2009: Selling Tech to Power in Tough Times

Speakers: Danis Kreimeier, Fred Cohn, Kim Bui-Burton, Stacey Aldrich, Kathy Gould

Customers expectations keep growing.  Resources keep shrinking.  We have to find ways to do new initiatives from within the organization.   Use the resources you have to do projects under the radar.

Tell people where you’re headed.

Give them the facts that support your proposal.

Tell them what actions you’re proposing & let them know you thought things over before deciding what to do.

Describe how your strategy fits in with other plans and strategies.

Explain how your strategy takes advantage of existing assets/resources.

Tell them how and when you’ll know whether this is successful.

Show your passion – that you are excited about the project.

Invite them to join you in the project—get them involved with things they can do to help the project.

Quote from Danis Kreimeier: “Once you get them involved, they can’t say no.  It’s like stepping on a puppy or something.”

There’s no such thing as a technology project.  Banish the phrase “technology project” from your vocabulary.  Use the word “business project” instead.  Business projects have technology components.

Challenging and changing times like this mean we have to approach business in a very different sort of way.  If we keep going the same way, we’re going to keep getting the same outcomes we’ve gotten all along.  Look for efficiency opportunities within existing projects and tasks.  Selling tech projects is really about marketing.  What are the buttons of the decision-makers that you can push?  What are the local business and community goals you are trying to reach?  Be careful of your perspective

They also opened it up for audience discussion, and asked us to present examples of when we have presented an idea to management and were turned down.  Some additional advice from that discussion: try to understand what it is that management has to lose if you did do the project, and figuring out how to align your goals with their overall goals.  Be proactive in having conversations around potentially touchy issues – “I already thought about potential problems with XYZ, and here’s what we could do if that happened.”  Use data to back up your proposed projects – how many people in your community are using such and such technology.  You have to understand that the line staff are feeling overwhelmed already, so how can we work through management to figure out what we can give up in current work to make space for the new work.  They also recommended charting your projects in four quadrants along the spectrum of high to low investment & high to low payoff.  High investment, low payoff = bad (of course).  But if you can even think of your projects that way and explain the cost-benefit-ratio of what you are putting out there, and tie it to dollars returned, management is likely to listen.


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