How to "sell" the topic of KM (video)
Here is a recording I gave of a talk to ISKO in Singapore, on the topic of “Selling KM”
Courtesy of Patrick Lambe
Courtesy of Patrick Lambe
The elevator pitch is your 30-second attemtp to sell KM to a senior manager you meet in an elevator. It needs to be short, concise, and engaging.
According to this blog post by Dan Steer, it needs to answer 3 questions – the 3 questions every listenter to your pitch will have
“Knowledge Management is something new we are trying – a systematic way of ensuring that your people at all levels have instant access to the knowledge they need to make the right decisions and take the right actions.
It can save you time and money, save you from repeat mistakes made elsewhere in the past, and help you deliver a better result.
Can you work with me to choose a suitable pilot area in your business unit where KM can add some real value?”
“We are losing work because our bid teams don’t have good enough access to the knowledge they need to land the bid.
I think we can fix that, and in quite a simple way.
Can I have 10 minutes of your time this week to explain in more detail?”
“Some of our most critical know-how is in the heads of people who will retire soon, and if we don’t do something about it, that capability will be lost to us. For example (give example of imminent knowledge loss).
We can cover this risk, if we act now and act strategically.
I would like to book an hour with you to tell you how our competitors are addressing this issue, and what our options are?”
At first sight this is a problematic request, as the ROI for KM is notoriously difficult to predict. If your manager wants you to sell KM on a firm ROI prediction, you have some difficult thinking to do (we can help).
However there are five things that make this question into a real opportunity for your KM program.
1) Top Management are talking to you. You have access to them, and they are listening to you. A conversation with senior management has opened up. As a KM sales person, you need to make the most of this, and you need to determine the selling point for KM. ROI will not be the selling point – most firms buy KM on emotion and not logic – but management will still need a convincing ROI to justify the purchase.
2) You have the opportunity to show them some success stories which demonstrate a very high ROI. KM can deliver fantastic ROI – our October 2012 Newsletter gives many examples of KM ROI and how it can be measured, and this blog has published a regular series of quantified success stories, with 117 examples to date. There is plenty of evidence you can show them from industrial organisations where KM has paid back its investment ten-fold or a hundred-fold, and plenty of success stories you can use as social proof.
3) You have the opportunity to make a deal with them.Ask them for permission and support to pilot knowledge management in one part of the organisation, and to measure the return. You promise them ROI from the pilot, and if this ROI is big enough, you ask them for their continued support in return.
4) You have the opportunity to offer to use KM to solve some of their real problems. Don’t forget, KM works extremely well when applied at senior level – its not just for the frontline staff. Senior managers are knowledge workers too. If you can solve their problems through KM, they will become your greatest advocates.
5) A big ROI gives you permission to ask for a big budget. Once your management realise how valuable KM can be, then they are more likely to make a sizeable investment. This could be the chance you were looking for to build a proper KM program with a good chance of success.
So look on this request as an opportunity to engage, and broker a deal, at the highest level. Your aim should be to gain support for a business pilot, through which you can demonstrate ROI, and if that ROI is convincing enough, to gain further support for full KM roll-out.
|Image from publicdomainpictures.net|
“This organisation is different”
Those are the four words, and they usually appear in this context.
People generally buy things based on emotion (“I must have that – it looks so cool”), and then convince themselves by logic that is was a Good Decision.
Knowledge Management is no different. You need to present your senior managers with an emotional case for Knowledge Management that they will buy into, then back this up with a logical business case that shows it was a great decision.
So how do you make the emotional case? Try some of these approaches
9. We tried it, it worked, we really liked it. Make sure that this story, this sell, is told not by you, but by someone within the business. Get a real quote from them, or (even better) get them on video giving their feedback. This is your “happy customer” endorsement, and the happy customer has to come from within your company, has to speak with emotion, and has to talk about the solving of a real business problem.