Selling your ideas at work

Photo Credit: liber via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: liber via Compfight cc

Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes.
– Napoleon Hill

Working in the technical industry, I sometimes get the idea that we want to embody the “anti-sales” approach. Many of us think that the best idea will always win out. Or maybe it is the fact that a lot of us can’t sell our way out of a paper bag. Whether you like it or not we have to promote our ideas if we want to create change in our organizations. If you want to change technologies or get a raise you are selling an idea.

Test it out

When you come up with a new idea it is best to find a sounding board. Perhaps you think having a “Battlestar Galactica Day” is a great idea, but maybe your co-workers won’t get on board. So ask around for feedback first before you bring it up at the next team meeting. Try to ask a few people before you are sure it is an idea to bring up in a larger setting.

Does it align with the company?

One simple litmus test for your idea is does it align with the company? If not, you should probably keep it to yourself. If you work for a financial services company they probably don’t want to start selling software to go along with investments and insurance. Now if you can take that software and make customize it to help market those investments then you might have an idea to take to others in the company.

Do your research

It pays to research your idea to make sure there aren’t any major problems with it. If for instance your company has tried something similar and it didn’t fair well you might want to pass. Other ideas can create potential legal issues and for that reason, alone many companies will avoid them.

Build Momentum

As you test out your ideas you can build momentum by talking with other people in the organization. Start with a few people and create some influence in the company. Decision makers can be at many levels in the organization. Don’t assume you just need to convince your supervisor. Most ideas require broad approval to be accepted and completed. When leaders try to push change into the organization it can backfire.

Results Matter

As you try to lead change make sure you keep your eye on the results. As businesses are trying to make a profit you should track the value in your change. Perhaps you change a process that saves time or produces more income for the company. Other changes may help save money or make someone’s job easier.

Selling an idea takes time and patience. Developing these skills will benefit you and your career in many ways. You begin with an idea that you test out by talking to a few people. Once you find out if it aligns with the company you can take it to the next step. From there you can do some research and begin to build momentum. Yes, in the end, the results matter but, even if you don’t succeed you should learn something about your company and most importantly about yourself.

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