You attended the 2016 Boomer Technology Circle Summit. While there, you made some good contacts, had some challenging and thoughtful discussions, and brought back phenomenal ideas on how to create a positive impact within your firm. One question remains: "How do I convince the partners to buy in to my vision?"
You are an early adopter. They are the early majority. You both speak different languages and have different motivations. Let's break it down:
Early adopters are described as visionaries, trendsetters, intuitive, and risk takers. They are the first to buy into a new product, process or possibility based on the perceived value. They understand immediately how a piece of technology can transform their lives, their professions and their industries. They see the big picture. Early adopters ask "How will this transform our firm?"
“What the early adopter is buying [is a] change agent. By being the first to implement this change in their industry, the early adopters expect to get a jump on the competition… They are also prepared to bear with the inevitable bugs and glitches.” (Moore, 2014)
The early majority are described as pragmatists, analytical and qualitative. They need reassurance that the new product or process is verified and stable. They are not comfortable working with possibilities that aren't fleshed out and proven. The early majority asks "What is the ROI?"
“By contrast, the early majority want to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations… They want technology to enhance, not overthrow, the established way of doing business.” (Moore, 2014)
While you (as an early adopter), are speaking from the standpoint of vision, they (as the early majority), are trying to receive your message from the standpoint of numbers and fiscal benefit. This gap is known as the Chasm.
How can you cross the Chasm?
The two most important things you can do are:
- Adjust your message to the “language” your audience speaks
- Do your homework
As excited as you may be about a new software or process efficiency, your message has to be translated and tailored to your audience. If you enter a meeting and begin raving about a nifty new gadget and being the first to use it, your message may be met with stares. The early majority want to hear that your idea translates to dollars and cents. Your job is to translate your exciting new idea into the language of money so that they understand that it is worth the time and expense to implement and the firm will see a return on that investment sooner rather than later. The early majority wants stats, analysis, bona fide recommendations from trusted sources and proof of concept before they will even contemplate a change. Anticipate their questions and concerns and be ready with direct answers and solid numbers.
Let’s assume you work for a firm with the mindset that tax and audit are the bread and butter. They are resistant to innovation. You have discovered a new application that will allow your firm to automate the tax/audit process. You are excited about this revelation, see the revolutionary benefits for your firm and are eager to give it a try! You’re ready to pursue this right now, but have to get your partner group onboard. When presenting your idea, you have two paths you can take:
- You chatter on about how life-altering your idea is to the firm and how your firm will be among the first (!!!) to make this change. How exciting!
- You take some time to translate your excitement into dollars and cents. Do your homework and come ready with statistics that are important to the group (i.e. KPI, ROI, etc.). Be ready for whatever hurdles arise. Have ideas or suggestions for new services to fill the hours freed up by automation. You are replacing the perceived lost source of revenue with potential new revenue streams.
Which avenue will generate a more positive response? The one where you are speaking your language or the one where you are speaking theirs? Taking the time to translate your excitement for the latest trend into their passion for the bottom line ensures your project has a better chance of generating buy-in at all levels of the organization.
By Chelsea Roberts
Boomer Consulting, Inc.