Just because you have a bunch of great ideas it does not mean you can sit back in a chair and kick up your feet. Selling ideas is the biggest and most difficult role of the Chief Innovation Officer. It requires knowing the right people, understanding the politics of an organization and understanding what it takes to get an idea implemented. Please check out Part One: Gathering Ideas of the series if you have not already done so.
To sell an idea you need to do the following:
- Sell a Need: An idea must come from a need to be successful but if there is not a need that currently exists, you can always create it. It is important to sell the need first before you sell an idea. You have to make everyone want a solution just as much as you do. Remember, everyone subscribes to WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) so the need may be different for different people.
- Have a Plan: Have a complete plan to implement the idea and make it simple to understand. It is also better to use visual aids than words and always provide examples. Make it very hard for people to say no.
- Show a Benefit: Show the benefit and do not spend too much time talking about implementation. It is best to share the benefits in a one-on-one setting because everyone may benefit differently and it is best to gravitate to their individual needs. This is critical for the Chief Innovation Officer — they have to be able to determine and adapt to every individuals needs and desires.
- Explain Lost Opportunity: Good ideas need to have a sense of urgency. It is just as important to sell the lost opportunity of not adopting an idea as the idea itself. Tons of ideas are implemented not because of what they provide but because of what would happen if the idea was not adopted. This can be a very powerful tactic in selling an idea.
Selling an idea is not an easy task and it is just as important to know when you are not the best person to be selling an idea. These 4 tactics can be easily coached to anyone who has a great idea.
Please do not forget to check the third and final part in this series, implementing ideas, to continue on your journey of becoming a Chief Innovation Officer.