Winning Over Stakeholders May Mean Looking Like a Dummy
If you want to win over more stakeholders to your way of thinking, consider asking a question that might make you look like a dummy.
You may be wondering what the heck I am writing about.
Let me clarify my thoughts and then you can decide.
Advances in science have spawned some very complex materials, products and services.
I don’t believe that a procurement professional can always understand how a material is created in the same way a chemist does. Nor should they be expected to have the same level of expertise that an engineer has in product design.
I do believe it is necessary to understand the critical elements of each material, product and service.
This is where “dumb” questions come in.
I have always been pretty good at math and science. English came much harder for me.
I was never shy about asking questions in English class. In hindsight, I probably should have asked more in my science classes.
Maybe some if the other kids thought I wasn’t that smart, but I didn’t want to fail just because I didn’t ask for an explanation that would help me understand.
I would like to suggest that a worthwhile goal is to gain enough understanding to do an excellent job for each stakeholder.
Let me share some of the questions I ask to get the information and understanding I need:
- Help me out, I am not sure I fully understand what you just told me, could you go over it again?
- Can you tell me more about (fill in the blank)?
- I think I get it, but could you go over it one more time?
- Let me share what I think you said and then you can help me out if I didn’t get is just right, is that ok?
These questions allow your stakeholder to clarify what they said so you can feel comfortable with their needs or requests.
I like to use them even if I am 90% sure that I have a solid understanding of their needs.
There is no downside to this approach. The worst that can happen is that you confirm that you did understand. The best that can happen is that you learn something you didn’t catch.
Stakeholders want you to help them and by delving a bit deeper you are demonstrating that you are truly interested in meeting their needs. This helps build trust.
Most of them will be very happy to talk more about their needs to make sure you get it.
You do need to be genuine in your approach. Most people can easily spot a phony.
There is another compelling reason to use this approach.
Once you believe that you understand their need, you can summarize it for the stakeholder.
This puts you on the same page.
Isn’t that where you want to end up each time?
Ask better questions, make changes and 2018 will be your best year ever.
Action Step: If you are uncertain where to start the process of change, a procurement professional like myself can provide guidance and expertise to help your organization achieve the results you want.
If you want to go explore this topic in greater detail, please contact me. I invite you to request 30-minute discovery conversation. In my experience the next step will be apparent at the end of the call. I never assume that what I have to offer will be right for everyone, so don’t expect a sales pitch. You can reach me at 973-936-9672.
If you would like to know more ways to reduce costs without changing the way you do business, simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact information and the best time to reach you.
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