By Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
Several times in my career, I have managed to sell an idea to a CEO or president only to have it sabotaged by one of their direct reports. Let me illustrate.
A few years ago the president of a huge bank made a commitment to sponsor my Lincoln programs at various universities as a part of the bank’s marketing program. The president then delegated the program to a senior vice-president.
Unfortunately, the vice-president expressed dismay about the president’s decision. “He (the president) is always making commitments that he has no idea how to fund,” the vice president complained.
And even though the Lincoln programs received high evaluations, the vice-president never attended a single performance, and quickly killed the project.
I was unable to get another appointment with the president. I had gotten my one chance, had made the sale, but lost what I had won when the president delegated it. I was too green to know to how to properly utilize a rare face-to-face meeting.
Today, I would say something like this:
“Mr. president, I deeply appreciate your commitment. I want this project to be a wise use of your resources. To make that happen, could I give you updates on a periodic basis? Your vice-president may not see this project in the same way that you do. How shall I do these updates? Email, voicemail, a telephone appointment, face-to-face?”
Learning point: Your initial Yes can turn into a No if you do not find some way to stay in touch with the person who said Yes.