“Please give me money” arguments abound in both the political and business worlds. It might be “please give me money for this wonderful government program” or it might be “please give me money in exchange for this wonderful product,” but either way you’re asking someone to make an investment. There are a few strategies you can use to be successful in making your case:
- Sell ideas, not widgets. Clearly, lobbyists don’t sell just things or services. They sell the outcome of what those things or services can bring to a legislator’s constituents or the nation as a whole. It’s the same in the business world. I was recently speaking to a group that sells HVAC equipment. The most successful know they aren’t in the business of selling a compressor. They’re selling internal temperature comfort (hopefully far more eloquently than that). People want to give money for the tangible fulfillment of a wish or need, not just a thing.
- Phrase your argument appropriately: Effective special interests start their pitch with the beneficial outcome. For example, “we seek to improve the lives of population X by providing them with Y benefit. To do so, we’d like an investment of Z dollars from the federal government.” Notice that the argument doesn’t start with “we want Z dollars and here’s what we’ll do with it.” A compelling articulation of the benefit serves as the hook. Once they’re hooked they are far more likely to cough up the cash.
- When in doubt, try to work in puppies and children: Any time you can make someone say “awww,” you’re halfway to the sale. I mean, don’t make it silly, but to the extent you can make the story as personal as possible you’ll thaw any “I don’t want to buy what you’re selling me” ice and get to the person inside. Heartstring arguments work.
And the most important thing? Be sure to ask for the sale. It’s the easiest thing you can do to move your cause or your product forward.
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