What my meeting with the Prime Minister taught me about selling change

downing street

Recently I met the Prime Minister to pitch an idea on change. I’ll tell you about how it went later. Selling change to senior stakeholders is one of the most critical things to get right when transforming a business.

There are so many things you need to consider: What are you asking for? What are you going to say? How are you going to say it? How do you really engage them and build rapport? How to prepare for difficult questions and pushback? etc. The list goes on.

3 things you can do to prepare are:

  1. Be crystal clear on what you are asking. Don’t be vague or wishy washy.
  2. Be brief and get to the central point as quickly as possible.
  3. Don’t overstay your welcome.

When I met the Prime Minister, it was a scorching hot day. After I was patted down by the MI5 officers I was ushered into a meeting room. And there sitting at a table was the Prime Minister. I sat down. There was silence for about 10 seconds. She didn’t look up, as she was engrossed in some papers.

I initiated the meeting, introduced myself and stuck my hand out. The Prime Minister looked up, smiled, shook my hand and then I went through my pitch which was to introduce some simple change management skills to teach young people how to help a business be efficient. The Prime Minister listened to me and said she’d take it away. She even agreed to a photo.

The meeting lasted 4 minutes. My takeaway was meeting an extremely busy person who genuinely listened. It was like every meeting I’ve had with senior stakeholders. They are all busy people with a million things going on. And you are taking up their precious time.

Whether it’s 4 minutes or 40 minutes be clear with what you want, be brief with your message and don’t overstay your welcome.

Maybe just don’t ask for a selfie at the end. 🙂


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