5 Tips on Getting Innovative Ideas Approved
It’s a common challenge: We have great ideas and innovations, which could really impact our organizations, but we don't always get the buy-in from the C-Suite or other parts of the organization (sales, IT, finance, etc.) that we would like.
We see this often in enterprise level corporations, so if you're responsible for an online product and/or innovation for an enterprise, you’re not exempt from having to pitch, and often pitch hard, to get the needed support for your strategies and plans.
Here are some tips that I took from a recent strategy meeting that was held in Richmond, VA. This was an informal, free-form discussion among about a dozen professional marketers and strategists from the Richmond area, and represented small, medium, and enterprise level businesses in everything from tourism, to insurance, technology, non-profit, and more. Thanks to all who participated, and special thanks to Carol Gregory of Elevation who chaired this discussion.
1. Build Relationships
The effectiveness with which you’re able to sell your ideas internally is directly correlated to your effectiveness in building strong relationships within your organization. The more deposits you make into the relationships bank, the more interest you will accrue (literally and figuratively), and the more on which you will be able to draw when the time comes to pitch an idea.
2. Understand the People To Whom You’re Selling
CEOs will generally have less available time and patience for detail. They’ll generally want concise, to-the-point information backed by facts in order to make a decision quickly. IT and legal types will likely want highly organized details and stats. While these tendencies will run along departmental lines, understand that you’re ultimately dealing with people, so know their personality types, what appeals to them, and how they work and prefer to communicate.
3. Treat the Pain
Ultimately, every job, every role, is about healing someone else’s pain; that is, it’s about solving someone else’s challenge or helping them to solve it. If you’re pitching ideas within your organization, always tie the ideas back to the issue or challenge it solves for the people to whom you’re pitching. If that’s your boss, figure out his or her challenge, and how your idea will help solve it, thus making them a rock star to the people they serve (thereby making you one to your boss).
4. Build Consensus
As you understand the challenges your organization faces and how your department can truly solve those challenges for the business, other departments, and individuals, you’ll have the ability to build solid internal relationships. Then you can leverage those relationships to build consensus and alignment. Sometimes this is best done one-on-one, and sometimes it will be advantageous to get everyone in a room.
5. Address the ROI
Shade Wilson of Elevation made a great point: The closer you can tie your department to revenue, the stronger position you hold within the organization because the better you can tie your initiatives to revenue, the clearer you’ll show that you are providing the organization with return on investment. This proof point will increase the amount of support you are likely to get. This is true for non-profits, too. The closer you can tie your initiatives to trackable, quantifiable results (e.g. enrollments, requests for contact, adoptions, memberships, conversions, etc.) that are aligned with your organization’s mission, the more support you will receive.
And by the way, these tips are largely not unique to product and innovation roles. If you have ideas you believe in, give these tips a try.