MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you get buy in for a new idea? is written by Kristin Kaufman, founder and president of Alignment, Inc.
There are a few key points which are salient for any of us in sales, and let’s face it: Who isn’t in sales in one form or another? Here are four basic tips to follow the next time you plan to pitch a new idea:
Have a compelling pitch
Be crystal clear about what you are selling. Show your manager what makes this idea different, and why he or she should care. Draw direct comparisons to your competition and demonstrate how your offering trumps the alternatives. Clearly highlight what need you are addressing and explain why your offering is relevant and timely to the needs of today.
Know your stuff — particularly the facts, figures and data
Give your manager the specifics about how the idea affects the bottom line. Outline the key steps of how it will be implemented, and how you will scale the overall plan. Call out the obstacles and challenges you expect to face in the execution of the idea, and then detail how you will resolve these issues. Identify what you need from the stakeholders and why you need it, and then ask for their support directly, clearly and succinctly.
First impressions count
Think about how you are presenting yourself. Do you look and act successful? Are you confident? Do you act confident, and not with false bravado or arrogance? Show you have authentic knowledge of who you are and that what you have to offer is of value. Be respectful of your audience. Be calm, cool and collected, and look them in the eye — personally and sincerely.
See also: Why managers need to stop sugar-coating the truth
Raw, controlled, passionate enthusiasm
Be real. Let your love for what you are doing shine through. If you believe your offering is the “bees knees” and will knock their socks off, let them see and feel that unbridled passion. Engage the stakeholders like real people and possible consumers. Meet them where they are — not where you are. Engage them like the decision makers they are, and don’t be afraid to bubble over in a contained, professional way. Remember: Energy begets energy, and enthusiasm sells. If you are happy to be there, let them experience this joy with you.
While these four steps guarantee nothing, if we don’t hit each of them with all we have, we will never make it to second base, much less make a homerun. Sure, there are hundreds of points of advice to offer in order to get buy in for whatever idea you are trying to sell. Yet, those points need to be developed and strategically customized for the specific idea. These four steps are simply the basic blocks to get in the door.
Whatever profession you’re in — software startup, nonprofit organization, charter school system or volunteer effort — these steps are the constants. Period.
Read all responses to the MPW Insider question: How do you get buy in for a new idea?
How this CEO keeps her employees coming back after maternity leave by Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3.
The number one way to motivate employees by Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell.