Selling Your Idea Internally

Life in a large organization isn’t always easy for people who want to solve problems.  Usually, the issue isn’t coming up with a solution.  Rather, it’s convincing other people that the solution is viable and should be implemented.  And whether you’re sitting on a blockbuster idea yet or not, now is the time to consider your strategy.

Build Your Reputation in Advance

In order to diminish the perceived risk of an unusual or out-of-the-box idea, the person proposing it has to be a proven entity.  That means that you’re established at the organization and have done well there.  Your boss trusts you and you are on the short list of employees with whom everyone wants to work.  You are known as the one who pitches in during a crisis, and the one who is a champion of smart internal initiatives.

Understand Your Business Case

To get an idea to fly internally, it has to be more than just cool.  It has to resolve a critical issue that is currently costing your company money, or it has to have the potential to make the company a lot more money.  Therefore, you must think through your concept thoroughly before approaching your manager and other higher-ups.  At every stage, ask yourself the question: “how will this benefit the organization?” Include as many sample metrics as you can (for example, estimated productivity or sales increases, higher client satisfaction ratings).

Use Video

A picture really is worth a thousand words.  Talk with fellow employees and/or customers and create a video that showcases the support behind your idea.  The video can include “man on the street” interviews, your idea in action, or both.  A well-executed piece also shows viewers that you know how to get things done and are willing to invest time and effort in the initiative.  And hey, if it worked for Seth Godin and Google, it can work for you.

Tap Your Colleagues

Who are the other innovators in your firm?  Track them down and pick their brains.  How did they go about selling their ideas internally?  What worked and what didn’t?  Do they consider the organization supportive of intrapreneurship?  Can they be of assistance when it comes to evaluating the idea and finding the right strategic and technical resources to get it off the ground?

Ask a Consultant

Do you work with any consultants or agencies?  If so, get their feedback on how to sell the idea.  After all, consultants sell to people all the time, including those who don’t possess a good understanding of their business.  Chances are, they will have some great suggestions and tools for positioning the concept the right way and overcoming potential objections.

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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