Note: This is not a political post. If your comments reveal your politics, I’ll most likely delete them. This post is about learning from what you see around you. The following statements are indisputable facts, not my political opinion.
The Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) was passed without a single Republican vote. The Democratic Party had enough votes to pass it and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to pass legislation they had long desired. There was nothing illegal about the way in which the law was passed, there is nothing in the Constitution that demands bi-partisanship, and the Supreme Court determined the law does not violate the Constitution. The President signed the legislation making it the law of the land.
Now, the Republican Party is using their majority in the House of Representatives to dig their heels in and resist the law’s implementation by trying to defund it.
These are facts. And they set us up nicely to look at consensus in our world, namely sales and change management.
Might Doesn’t Make Right
Even though you have the right to do something, and even though you have the authority to make a decision without consensus, in big decisions it isn’t often the best path. This is true for you and the contacts you sell to inside your client accounts. You might be selling to someone with authority, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need consensus.
If you haven’t had and experience similar to the political scenario above, you will. The problem with selling something without gaining consensus is that the stakeholders that oppose your initiative often dig their heels in, resist your initiative, and work to ensure it fails–and you with it.
You are better often taking the time to build consensus, to understand the needs of the stakeholders that oppose your initiative, to find some common ground, to make trade offs, and to mitigate the damage–including the damage to relationships with the individuals you will later be working with. The more complex the outcome you need, the more stakeholders affected, the more this is true.
Politics is politics. It exists in the United States House of Representatives and it exists within your client’s company. Politics is an ugly business in government, and it’s ugly business in business. Consensus and effective negotiations makes politics more bearable.