Getting to ‘Yes’

You know the scenario. You read about a great seminar, workshop, or conference for administrative professionals. The topics interest you and will help you in your job. You walk into your executive’s office to request their approval only to hear “no.” You walk out. End of story.

I am providing this advice after being on both sides of the desk. For 20 years I was an assistant and I often had to persuade my executives to invest in administrative assistant seminars and conferences. Since 1990, I’ve been on the other side of the desk, and I now see things as executives do. There has to be return on the investment made in an employee. Use the guidelines below to help your executive see the benefit of their support.

1. Know exactly what you want to accomplish by attending the training or conference.

2. To be a good seller, consider the buyer’s viewpoint. Put yourself in your executive’s position. What key selling points would be important to your executive?

3. Learn what motivates your executive. Is your executive motivated by ROI (return on investment), the skills you will develop, or you learning from an acclaimed expert in the field?

4. Gauge your executive’s communication style preference and present your information in a fashion that speaks to them.

5. List the topics that will be covered and how they tie in to your role.

6. Tie key learning points to your professional development plan for the year.

7. Show your executive that what you will learn will help you in specific areas of your job. For example, let’s say one of the topics covered will be understanding communication styles. Tell your executive you will use that information to be a better communicator by tapping into a receiver’s style, building rapport, and complementing your executive’s style.

8. If your executive doesn’t immediately agree to the request for training, ask what they would like to know to make it a good investment for your company.

9. Offer options. “We have options. Would a conference in May in California be beneficial or maybe the seminar in Atlanta in September might be better.”

10. Let your executive know that you will share everything you learn with other assistants in your organization.

11. Emphasize the benefits of networking with peers in the field.

12. Negotiate if necessary. Ask your executive to pay the registration and hotel and you pay your airfare. Be creative!

Sometimes assistants tell me they can’t attend training programs because of budget cuts. Other times it is lack of knowing how to sell the program to the executive. Have the courage to find the way to get the education you need.