Capturing Mindshare

Often I read articles about influencing others and selling ideas. It might be difficult to sell new ideas at the moment, but I believe knowledge and learning professionals can focus on laying groundwork and capturing mindshare to position themselves for the future. While people may not be buying the latest, greatest, concepts right now, that time will come again, and we need to be remembered.

What is mindshare? Mindshare is the ability to generate an impression that you are credible, you will deliver what they need, you actually understand and relate to their issues even when you haven’t experienced them yourself first-hand.

When I was a younger professional, I designed and delivered sales and sales management training to an older, more seasoned audience than myself. Admittedly, I had never been a sales manager and had never walked in their shoes but what I had done was a lot of shadowing, interviewing and observing. One day, I described what I knew to be their day-to-day experiences and fed back to the group what I knew to be their problems and opportunities. It was like I had said the most profound thing in the world. Everyone smiled; some even cheered: “That’s exactly what we go through; that’s exactly what we have been saying!”

From that day forward, I had captured, which allowed me to introduce two new items – a homegrown best practices toolkit, which was met with a lot of leadership skepticism that it would be adopted, as well as a new sales process that turned these distributors from being transactional to more consultative in their approach. The company enjoyed great success as a result of both of those programs.

How do you capture mindshare?

ASK questions (even if you know the answer)

LISTEN

LISTEN again

OBSERVE directly

WALK in THEIR SHOES (even when it’s not your job)

Opportunities in Down Times?

My previous entry applies to large, conservative organization that is truly closed to new ideas and just trying to keep their head above water. Let’s not kid ourselves…unfortunately, they are out there. For those braver and more entrepreneurial souls, by all means take now as an opportunity to help sell how we can make things better internally, which may include different technology.

Some companies may have made very short-term decisions in their recent RIFs that may come back to haunt them. In a year, they may find themselves scrambling to locate good talent to help position themselves well in the new marketplace.

If you have leadership that will listen, then by all means pitch social technology as a means of engaging surviving talent – posing yourself for the great recruitment adventure to come as well as positioning your products and services within the marketplace.

If you’re looking to stretch your dollar, then borrow public social tools for now until you can procure something more sophisticated if that’s needed. If the lawyers don’t allow you to do that, then it’s time for all Learning and Knowledge Professionals to become sales professionals. We want to stay afloat but occasionally waves come by and we need to have a sea-worthy craft to ride them out. If your craft is 10 years old and not sea-worthy, then negotiate for small, trial implementations to prove their value.

Now, if we put our neck on the line for wish list items like this, then we MUST bribe, persuade and cajole our test groups to use the heck out of these tools so not only do we get to keep them but we get to expand them when the waves start to diminish.

We all have an inner Salesperson. We sell everyday, don’t we? We may not make any revenue or claim more marketshare but we seek something more important – mindshare. I’ll never forget the first time I heard that term…almost 10 years ago. It struck a deep chord with me. YES! That is what I sell – getting people to agree with my ideas