CHICAGO–There is no shortage of talk about collaboration within credit unions, but how does a CU leader effectively sell the idea? They won’t be effective if they take the approach most people do, says one expert.
Writing on Inc.com, Stephen Shapiro, and innovation consultant and frequent speaker on the topic, said he was recently asked by one person just that question: What’s the best way to sell innovation?
“He's an innovation leader in his company and he wanted to sell the concept of innovation internally, to sell specific ideas internally, to sell the solutions externally, and maybe even pitch to potential investors,” shared Shapiro.
He said he thought a few books the person should read, such as Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal.
“But in the end, when I looked at the bigger picture of his innovation challenge, I recommended some ancient wisdom: Aristotle's Rhetorical Triangle,” said Shapiro.
“This was his approach to using language to persuade others,” explained Shapiro. “The three corners of this triangle are ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is credibility, pathos is empathy, and logos is logic. I find that selling your ideas using this construct, typically in that order, leads to more persuasive arguments and more effective sales pitches.”
When looking to pitch an organization on innovation, Shapiro said a leader must first establish credibility.
“You need people to listen to you before they can truly hear your ideas. They will only listen if the think you are worthy of their time. Why should they believe you?” he asked. “So, before trying to sell your ideas, make sure people believe you, trust you, and want to listen to you. You want to do this without it sounding like you are hyping yourself, because that can quickly turn off listeners. Therefore it is useful to get someone else to sing your praises.”
Create an emotional bond with others, recommends Shapiro.
“Speak their language. Address their needs. Tell them what they will get out of paying attention. Why should they care? What's the cost of not listening? This is all about context,” he said. “Remember, people rarely listen to the emergency procedures when an airplane is taking off, but they are highly attentive when the plane is about to crash. You must get people to the point where they really want to hear what you have to say about the proposed solution. When done right, storytelling is incredibly powerful for creating this emotional connection. It can have people sitting on the edge of their seat. Your goal is to get them to ‘feel’ that your solution is worth considering, before they even know what it is.”
Logos: The Solution
Finally, after addressing credibility and empathy, a leader can get to the solution.
“Features and functions. How will the change be implemented? How will it affect them? What do they need to do differently? What actions do you want them to take?” he asked. “I find that when most people sell, they start with logos - the logic, the features and functions. But this is not the way people buy. They want to know and like you first (why you). And they want to have an emotional connection to the problem (why your idea matters). Only then will they be interested in your solution.
“In some situations, I find that it is actually better to start with the empathy - the emotional connection,” he continued. “In fact, when done right, this can create credibility in the mind of the audience. Each situation is a bit different. This is an art-form, not a science.”
Any credit union leader who wants to lead a successful change effort must be able to sell their ideas, Shapiro said, and to do that they must understand how people make decisions.
“People rarely make decisions intellectually, they make them emotionally,” he said.