Nov 14, 2013

Selling the Value of Project Management: Daniel Pink on How to "Persuade, Convince and Influence"

Posted by Johanna Mickel in Project Management Events, Project Management Office (PMO) | 1 Comment

"Persuade, convince or influence people" hmmm ... sounds like sales to me!

Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is Human – The Surprising Truth about Moving Others, closed the PMO Symposium yesterday with a keynote that was right up my alley. Naturally, working in business development, I have always believed that business is selling your ideas to others … and if project managers and project leaders grasp this, they will be more effective and successful. So it was great that the PMO Symposium chose this speaker on this topic.

Pink cited a 2000 study that 1 in 9 people were involved in selling.  Fast forward to 2013 … still 1 in 9. Even though a number of years back, it was assumed that the Internet would make sales obsolete. Similar studies have been done around the world and the numbers vary little.  And the other 8 of 9 individuals require the ability to "persuade, convince or influence people" as part of their job. Hmmm ... sounds like sales to me!

Pink's insight that "all are in sales" isn't new, but he frames the concept very well. He referenced a sample of 7000 workers and found that 41% of their time is involved in persuading and influencing others … not for money as in the case of direct sales, but rather to do something involving time, effort, energy or beliefs. He referred to these as “non-sales selling.” This is the kind of selling that project managers have always had to do, getting buy-in from teams, negotiating resources with line managers, and hammering out requirements with clients. That selling is a key skill for project management was underscored a few years ago when PMI funded a major study on the topic.

He updated the sales ABCs (Always Be Closing) to stand for Attunement (seeing others from their own perspective), Buoyancy (the ability to rise up from the “ocean of rejection” .. and frame failures in a positive way), and Clarity (ability to contextualize information and move from problem solving to problem finding). With this info and perspective, Pink then suggested five traits or actions that the audience should embrace:

  1. We can increase our effectiveness by reframing "power" as finding common ground in order to get results.
  2. In negotiation, especially with the C-suite, we need to use head AND heart. Not that we should be neutral (passion is a good thing!), but thinkers do better than feelers.
  3. We need to pay attention to others' postures, language and gestures .. and reflect them back to create common perspectives.
  4. Asking questions beats telling. Questions create an active response, since we develop our own reasons for agreeing and when people agree … they hold their beliefs more dearly.
  5. Lastly, he discussed how to analyze "most likely and least likely to act" and cautioned agains overweighting the importance of behavior and underweighting the context of behavior.  In short, we need to make it easy for those we want to persuade to act (he referred to this as building an “off ramp”).

At PM College, we are big fans of upgrading project managers' skills in negotiation, persuasion and communication. So I'll be reading Daniel Pink's book (which was given to all attendees) with interest ... and passing it around. Because sharing information and insights is yet another way we "persuade, convince and influence."


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1 Comment on PMO Symposium Conference Review-Daniel Pink

mohamed says:

we need to use head AND heart,but with economics what should be done?

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 6:33 am

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