When it comes to selling your innovative ideas, sometimes the hardest part about getting buy-in is selling to the right audience. Robert Tucker outlines 6 ways to build buy-in for innovation and speak the language of people you are selling to.
Chances are you are required, on a regular basis, to sell ideas. Time and again in my work as an innovation coach, I see that the ability to build the buy-in for your ideas is a key determinant of success, both internally and externally.
How can you improve your skills in this vital arena? Here are six suggestions:
Realize that selling ideas is job one.
Far from being a mere after-thought, or something that, once the idea is ready for launch, can be thrown over the wall to the marketing and sales team to handle, successful innovators know that selling is a constant need and never-ending requirement.
Focus on benefits, not features.
Will your new product or service save the customer time, improve his/her social standing, solve a problem better than existing solutions? Every effective sales professional knows to concentrate on such benefits. Prospective buyers don’t care a whit how your gizmo works, how many toggle switches it has, etc. or anything else about its features until they buy the benefits.
Emphasize the role of persuasion.
Constantly emphasize the need to win friends and influence people internally and externally. Work on communication skills and energizing, creative, briefings, descriptions, boardroom reports, etc. Focus on crafting messages so that people pay attention. Make everyone on the team an idea evangelist.
Try out ideas on skeptical thinkers first.
Your friends are likely to give you the positive feedback you want to hear. But before you decide to commit all out to an idea, try it out on your toughest critic. Humbly invite them to tear it apart, find the weaknesses. Then, see how you feel. If you’re still convinced you’ve got something, go for it. If not, you probably don’t have the fire in the belly to see it through to fruition.
Speak the language of the people you are selling to.
Effective idea evangelists find out as much as they can about the thinking styles of those they are pitching. Are they analytical, quantitative? Then provide numbers. Emotionally-driven? Come with anecdotes that convey your message. If “big picture” oriented, don’t bore them with details.
Help others visualize your idea.
A picture is worth a thousand words. And the more others can feel, taste touch and most of all see your idea represented, the greater your chances of getting a green light. People don’t like to admit that they don’t understand, or that you’ve confused them. But as every champion knows, people don’t buy what they don’t understand.
Robert Tucker is president of Innovation Resource Consulting Group, based in Santa Barbara, California, and an internationally recognized thought leader in the field of innovation and leadership development. He helps organizations seeking to improve top and bottom line performance via what he calls “systematic innovation.” Formerly an adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, he’s been a consultant and keynote speaker for over two decades. His seven bestselling books on innovation have been translated into 17 languages and are used by business leaders worldwide. He’s helped shape the innovation strategies of over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies as well as clients in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Australia. Learn more about him at InnovationResource.com.
This article originally appeared on Robert Tucker’s blog.
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