Getting Buy-in

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking to my receptionist, my sales force or me, I’ve never seen anyone who can get people to buy into his ideas as quickly as you do.”

The CEO who made this observation piqued my curiosity. I wondered “How did I develop this ability?” I discovered that it’s a two-part process…idea development, idea presentation.


Developing the idea is a three-step process. Identify:

  1. What you want to accomplish.
  2. Whose help you’re going to need.
  3. What’s in it for them.

Keeping their job is NOT a legitimate answer to number three. If you review the comments of employees of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, employees consistently say that the things they enjoy are:

  • Autonomy.
  • Learning.
  • Variety.

That’s it! They want to be allowed to use their own methodology to accomplish the goal. They want to learn something new. They want variety in the work they do. The same is true outside the work environment. These are innate desires that we all possess.

Once you’ve identified what you want to accomplish, whose help you need and what’s in it for them, you need a presentation plan.


The key is to realize that we, as human beings, are wired for self-interest. That’s neither good nor bad, it’s reality. You want to structure your presentation to highlight what’s important to them. Here’s the presentation sequence:

  1. State what’s in it for them (autonomy, learning, variety).
  2. Why it’s good for the company, family unit, community.
  3. What it is that you need them to do.

This simple process is what enables me to get buy-in quickly…and it’ll do the same for you.

For you

When you have an idea and you realize that you need someone’s help…pause. During that pause remind yourself that unless you find a valid reason for them to help you…one that benefits them…they’re likely to resist your idea.

Structure your message to provide them with the things that are important to them…autonomy, learning, variety. “By doing this you’re going to gain…(what’s important to them.)

Them present your idea as outlined above.

For our kids

Share this simple process with your kids. When you see them get frustrated because they’re not getting buy-in for their ideas, ask them “What was in it for the person whose help you needed?” This simple question will remind them that they weren’t considering the other person’s needs.

Be prepared for your kids to use this technique on you. When they do, reward their behavior. You may not agree to provide exactly what they want, but get as close as you can so that they are encouraged to continue this practice.

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