1.) Write down exactly what your desired end results are for this interaction. What do you want them to do as a result of your influence? Write the end result as a description of what will exist at the end of the interaction not how you are going to tackle it.
2.) Clarify how many people have to say “Yes” and what kind of buy-in you need from them. Is it their money or budget or do they have to convince others of the need to commit resources or make changes to accommodate your needs or the changes you want to make.
3.) Do some stakeholder analysis and work out, on two axes of a simple two by two graph, marked Power (High/Low) and Interest (High/Low) where the key people currently sit and who your key targets for attention must be. Start with the High Power High Interest as your highest priority.
4.) Work out what their “frame of mind” is in relation to your proposals for change. Are they desperate for something to take pain away? Are they shopping around for the best ideas? Are they not bothered one way or the other? Are they fiercely resisting change? All require different approaches.
5.) Clarify what would make them look good or feel good – what constitutes a personal win for them. A win is inpidual, illogical, irrational but hugely important. You can deliver a good organisational result but it won’t stick if they don’t have some kind of win – what’s in it for them?
6.) List what you know and what you don’t know. Anything you don’t know or don’t understand is like a warning triangle at the side of the road – hazard ahead. If you don’t know who the budget holder is or what frame of mind they’re in you need to find out
7.) Write each of the key players, their frame of mind and their potential wins on a Post-It note and stick them on the stakeholder analysis map. This is your battle plan. You need to work out who you can personally contact and who you are going to need help with.
8.) Find someone who can give you insights into people you know less well. The ideal people are those that currently work with them. Find out about their information needs and ways of working – are they a “one sheet of paper” person or do they like lots of facts and data?
9.) Practise exactly what you are going to say in 30 seconds or less which explains what you want and what their role in the decision is. Keep taking words out until it says what you want with the least possible words. Try it out on someone neutral and get feedback.
10.) Start to make contact with everyone who can indirectly influence the key stakeholders if they are beyond your own sphere of influence. Use coffee, lunch or whatever you can to engage them and float your ideas with them to establish how the proposals might be received. Be ready to rethink.