Selling Your Idea Up the Ladder
We have all heard the phrase “selling to the C-suite.” This is a very important concept for salespeople who are trying to reach c-level executives, but, this concept also works great for those who are trying to sell their ideas to their boss. Innovation and creativity are present in just about any workplace, whether it’s a change to a process, a new product or service; a new way to market a product, the list goes on. The major setback with all of these ideas is when it comes time to present them to executives; this is where they lose steam. It is frustrating, all the time you spent writing it down/designing it, running it by co-workers, tweaking it, all to have it dismissed in a half hour meeting. Well, we have some ideas to help you out.
Setting the Foundation
Most of the work starts before you even have an idea to propose. Before you present anything, you need to make sure you have your boss on your side, and you also need to prove that you are an integral part to your team and the company overall. Really, we are talking about your reputation. A good reputation will get you in the door and will likely open up your executive audience a little more. Building up your reputation may take time, but it will be more than worth it in the long run. Aside from doing your job well, it is important to have trust from the rest of your team, be an individual that is easy to work with and that people want to work with, and always be willing to pitch in during projects or crises.
Early Development and Creation
You may think that your idea is great and your team might think it’s great as well but you have to make sure that your idea will benefit the company. Whether it be from a money making/saving perspective, time saving, increased productivity, whatever it is, it needs to be beneficial.
Once you start to develop your idea, make sure you get input from other members of your organization and team. If your idea takes off they will all have to be a part of it, why not tailor your idea to their pre-existing needs and wants from the start. Doing this will also show your attention to detail and your reputation as a team player.
Once you have all the information you need, make sure to polish up your key points. In order to keep their attention and keep them on the same page you need to make sure your idea is crystal clear.
Lastly, keep your boss abreast of your progress; they will likely be the biggest champion of your idea. Showing them progress, particularly the steps above, will show your seriousness and dedication to the problem and company as a whole.
This will be that hardest part, and this is where you will need to know the most about your audience. Learn their language. Do they speak numbers and finance, short and sweet, the big picture? This will help you immensely when putting your presentation together and tailoring it to your audience.
Lastly, make sure you have it timed right for you and your audience, the best way to do this is to ask. You want to make sure that they will not be distracted by upcoming events, other projects, vacations, etc. You also have to understand that they are very busy and you will need to make the most of the time you have, how you created your presentation will be crucial at this step.
After the Fact
Don’t get discouraged if your idea doesn’t take off or you don’t get the reception that you expected. This is going to happen more often than not. The most important steps you can take at this point is to not give up, and get feedback. Find out what you can do better next time, what part of your idea needs tweaked, was your idea too complicated, or was it over simplified? Without this last step, none of the other previous steps will work moving forward. After having done this a few times you will start to learn what works best for your audience and for yourself, practice will most certainly make perfect.