8 Tidbits To Help You Sell An Idea

How to sell your idea

The ability to be influential in an organization and sell your ideas can make you a game-changer in your career. It may also open more doors and put you on the path to a new and better career.

Thousands of good product and service ideas come and go every year, simply because those who had them couldn’t sell them to the right audience.

A good idea won’t do anyone any good if it goes unnoticed. You have to gain the support of superiors, decision makers, peers, key stakeholders, etc. in order to convert that idea into a tangible reality.

Selling—especially when it comes to something as intangible as a concept—is very difficult for most people. To help you improve your chances of success, use the following 8 tidbits to help you through the idea-selling process.

  1. Confirm your credibility. Credibility is the quality of being believable or trustworthy. In other words, you have to demonstrate to your audience that you know what you are talking about. You need to prove that prior experiences have taught you what you need to know, that you followed through, and that positive results followed. Be sure your idea matches your level of credibility.
  2. Set the hook. A hook is the most important need of the audience. It is the greatest benefit of the idea you would like to sell. For example, if the greatest need of your audience is production speed and efficiency, open your pitch with this hook: “I would like to present an idea that will help this plant increase production speed while creating more efficient and profitable production lines.”
  3. Make the idea sticky with a good narrative. Simply put, a narrative is a story. While selling an idea, develop a selling story to go along with it that will reinforce the main selling points of the idea. A good story will make your presentation memorable which will stick with the audience as they decide what to do about the idea.
  4. Put yourself in the decision-makers’ shoes. Learn what motivates and inspires the person or people to whom you present your idea. They are human, too. Learning what motivates and inspires them will help you to tailor your message to them specifically. For example, you would use different selling strategies while talking to an Information Technology person and a Human Resources person. There is nothing wrong with fitting the idea to the audience. It is actually expected.
  5. Eliminate as much risk as possible. Even hard-charging venture capitalists want their investment to come with safeguards in place. Most people don’t like risk, and they want to avoid as much as possible. It is impossible to eliminate all forms of risk though, so use that opportunity to build credibility by being honest about the risks that remain.
  6. Never fear your vulnerabilities. Every good idea comes with challenges. Competitors and other vulnerabilities are challenges. Admitting they are there will improve your credibility and will also make your strengths more compelling.
  7. Use visual aids where possible. Structuring a sale around a visual presentation provides numerous benefits, including a framework for your idea, visual prompts to help you remember what to say next, and—you guessed it—more credibility.
  8. Close the sale. After the presentation is over, ask a question like, “Do you think this idea is the answer to the problem?” If there are objections, you have the opportunity to settle them then and there. If there are no objections, you can ask, “When can I present this idea to the next committee?”

Today’s organizations are looking for people who can provide value and influence the organization in a positive way, so improving your abilities in these areas will help you tap into your reservoir of personal potential—not to mention it can be a fun and invigorating process when you put a little thought and action behind it.

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About the Author

Josh Nuttall

Josh’s role and experience at CMOE has been supporting the development of curriculum design for a wide variety of leadership topics and organizational issues and challenges.