ASQ Influential Voice March topic is Selling Quality. My idea for selling quality to management can be separated into two parts. Firstly, it needs to convince your boss (or top management) about your quality ideas and the second part is to persuade your colleagues (or employees) that the quality ideas are practicable.
The terms of Convincing and Persuading used in these two levels are explained below.
"Convincing" usually has to do with making a logical argument giving factual data to support the beliefs and understandings of your quality ideas.
"Persuading" tends to rely on bending someone's emotions to the task or take actions.
Overall, “Convincing” means to try to change one's belief and opinion, but “Persuading” implies to try to make somebody does what he/she doesn't want to do.
For convincing your boss or top management, it can be achieved by four steps: 1) Develop the idea, 2) Get help: engage partners, 3) Measure and mitigate resistance and 4) Gain Approval, by referring to Brien Palmer’s Idea Selling Process (Brien Palmer, 2006) (See Figure 1).
1) Developing an idea
i. Align the idea with organizational goals (set objectives)
ii. Build a business case for your idea (pilot run example)
iii. “Dollarize” your proposal (like 6 sigma project)
2) Get help: engage partners
i. Make alliances with key managers and peers
ii. Build business case and the financial ROI
3) Measure and mitigate resistance
i. Define who are the stakeholders; the merits of the idea
ii. Determine how critical the person’s support and the level of attention
iii. Build an influence strategy
4) Gain Approval
i. Prepare executive presentation
For persuading your colleagues (or employees), I would like to quote the article wrote by Neil Potter and Mary Sakry (2009). A quality practice was sold as essential by matching it with the goals. Potter & Sakry five selling steps are shown as follows.
1) Show the team members the direct link between the issues they face and the solution provided by the quality practice
2) Pick a quality practice that is small relative to the size of the project
3) Demonstrate the benefit of the practice
4) Push them over the edge or agree to delay
5) Establish oversight to maintain the gains
Moreover, authors concluded that visibility should be maintained so that management is able to see what is, and what is not being done. Otherwise, quality program would become burdensone, die or allow old quality problems to resurface.
Finally, I would like to discuss the role of quality professionals in selling quality. The following hierarchy of Super Sales is raised by Dr. John Koo who is the founder of the course “Psychology MBA”.
Technician -> Salesman -> Marketer
A technician is a worker in a field of technology (e.g. Quality related tools) who is proficient in the relevant skills and techniques, with a relatively practical understanding of the theoretical principles.
A salesman tries his best to get customer (e.g. Boss or Colleagues) to want something he is selling and then purchase it (e.g. Quality Improvement Project).
A marketer is someone who determines what the customer (e.g. Boss or Colleagues) want, then finds or develops an appropriate product or service (e.g. Quality Improvement Project) to sell to them.
In quality perspective, I modified it below.
Quality Technical Staff -> Quality Salesman -> Quality Marketer
Brien Palmer (2006) “Selling Quality Ideas to Management”, Quality Progress, May 2006, pp.27-34. http://www.acig.com/files/meetings/QNNMay2010/Selling_Quality_Ideas_to_Management.pdf
Neil Potter and Mary Sakry (2009) “Selling Quality to Your Organization”, The Process Group, Vol.16, No.3, September 2009, pp.1-3. http://www.processgroup.com/pgpostsept09.pdf