Start with those willing to buy

Good salespeople focus their efforts on those who are willing to buy. They don’t try to sell to the unsellable. Enough people want an iPhone, no need to waste time with the Samsung devotees.

Years ago, I wanted to change how we were doing ethics training in my organization. At the time, we were requiring all of our our employees to complete four online ethics courses per calendar year. Not surprisingly, most employees completed the training between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

This was a business unit that was growing rapidly by acquisition and I wanted acquired employees to be exposed to our ethical culture more quickly and consistently. My proposal was to require one online course per quarter. I knew that the C-level functional leader who could make this happen was unsellable on this idea. So I went to someone else in the C-suite who I knew was willing to buy. Within days, we had the greenlight from the President.

As ethics and compliance professionals, we must constantly sell new ideas in response to our ever-changing risk landscape. Just in the last decade, among other changes, the rise of social media called for new policies, mobile technologies made it possible to extend online training and big data supercharged audits and investigations. But not everyone is willing to buy new practices and fewer still are early adopters.

To be most effective, we must start with those willing to buy.

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