How To Sell Your Idea

Updated: Nov 15 2003, 05:30am hrs
I think it is a great idea I think it is a great idea. I also know my boss wont buy it. Why not I am not sure. This is my hunch.

People who come out with good ideas dont work hard to help others understand the value of that idea. They neither communicate the ideas benefits or relevance convincingly nor demonstrate the passion or the commitment required. As a result many ideas get killed. Not because the boss is dumb but because the person who proposes the idea is lazy.

Here is an excellent example of how it must be done. A marketing manager of a major insurance company got a gro-up of colleagues to generate id-eas for her. Her team processed the ideas and developed three interesting solutions. The next step was to take the solutions to the managing director for approval and budgets.

She refused to present the ideas as they were. Instead she created interesting direct mail examples and posters for each concept. Powerful copy and pictures brought the concept alive and made it easy for the MD to relate to it. She got the approval in just one meeting.

In another case I know, a friend took across copies of a leading newspaper with imaginary headlines. These headlines communicated news about a break-through idea (my friends idea) from the company. That triggered the CEOs imagination and got him really interested.

Sometime a clear demonstration that you have done your homework thoroughly, is a big plus point. A team working on a project wanted sponsorship and budgets. They knew only the MD could sanction it. They worked on the presentation and spent weeks polishing it. They brought in a colleague who knew the MD and asked all the tough questions and raised all the objections. This helped the group in smoothening the rough edges.

Finally they chose the junior most person to present the idea to the MD. After the presentation, the MD felt that the idea had good potential and sa-nctioned a bigger budget and the idea got the support it deserved.

Another thing that comes in the way of acceptance is ego. Here is a good example of this. A good friend went to the CEO of his company with a well thought idea that could benefit one of the top three brands. The CEO gave him a polite hearing. Our friend got frustrated that nothing was done. As luck would have it he talked about the idea to his immediate boss, the R&D chief. The R&D chief knew where the problem was. While the idea was sound, our friend had no credibility or track record to warrant serious attention. So he spoke to the marketing chief to examine the idea. The marketing chief felt that it required a lot of refinement before its presentation to the MD. A cross-functional team worked on it to dot the is and cross the ts. It was then presented to the MD.

Our friend, who was present in the meeting, saw the difference in the communication of the idea. They say that walking the last mile is always difficult. Presenting an idea and acceptance from people who matter is in itself a creative task. It is not for the lazy or the weak hearted.

The writer is partner, IDEAS-RS