A senior vice president walks into the company’s executive committee meeting to introduce her plan to roll out a new consumer product. She has prepared and practiced her presentation. She has anticipated questions and push backs and prepared her responses. She has clearly outlined the benefits of this program for the company.

She stands in front of the room and confidently presents her vision and plan. Something doesn’t feel right however. Sure, there is some head nodding and some note taking, but none of the enthusiasm she anticipated. What went wrong? What was missing from her selling this idea to the committee?

The missing piece has nothing to do with her delivery or presentation or idea. It has everything to do with the fact that she did not build bridges beforehand. If she had met with each individual on the committee beforehand, asked for their input, and sold them on her idea, potentially she would have had a room full of enthusiastic supporters.

Each member of the executive committee is interested in programs that benefit the company, but they also want to feel they have been included in the process. They are interested in how it will affect and benefit them.

The lesson here is clear. It’s important to build your bridges beforehand. Sell to the individuals first. Ask for their input. Tailor your message so it resonates with each person. Use the information you have about their interests, drive, and motivation to win their approval. Then as you present your plan to the team, they will feel that they are part of your vision. They will help you to sell the plan to others.

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