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 Kathy Delaney, global chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness.
There’s more to selling an idea than having a clear vision and a well-rehearsed presentation. No matter how great your idea is, you can’t just throw it out there and hope it sticks. In my experience in the advertising world, words are just words — they can only take you so far.
If you want people to engage, you need to connect with them on an emotional level. Human beings are rational, of course, but first and foremost, they are emotional. Every single one of us at our core is driven by joy, fear, anger, surprise and hope. When you’re working to sell an idea in the workplace, you need to figure out how to tap into these emotions and take your audience on a journey that lets them experience your idea on a deeper level. Only then, once that emotional connection is made, will they be inspired to actually go and do what you’re asking them to. Here are a few tips for doing just that:
Invention is what sparks interest and gets attention. First, make sure you’re highlighting the most exciting, inventive and original facets of your idea. Then when you’re pitching your audience, do so in an unexpected way that will delight or surprise them. If your pitch is memorable, your idea will stay with them and be much more likely to take off.
If you truly believe in your idea, don’t be afraid to bring it to the people who might not want to hear it. Back it up with every ounce of proof you have and make your case – even if there’s only a 5% chance of success. Few things inspire confidence in an idea like total conviction from its presenter.
If at first you don’t succeed, get someone else to buy into your idea first. If your target stakeholders don’t bite right away, share the idea around to garner support for it in other corridors. This will give you a chance to hone your presentation before taking it back to your original target and letting them know that this is an idea people are getting behind. Ask them to look at it again with fresh eyes, knowing that it has the support of others. You might be surprised how often they’ll see what they were missing initially.
Go above and beyond
Show your audience that you’re capable of delivering even more than what they asked for and they’ll put their faith in you and what you’re selling. Go beyond the initial deliverables that the client requested and push yourselves to present additional ways to explore the business strategy. It’s a pleasant surprise for the client and it makes them think about what they were originally asking for in a new way. It also ensures that they are going to get what they asked us for and more, which is a great way to build trust.
Read all responses to the MPW Insider question: How do you get buy in for a new idea?
The one fear even the best business leaders have by Mary Godwin, VP of operations at Qumulo.
How to make sure your new business idea isn’t a total dud by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.
How to avoid complete failure when pitching a new business idea by Laura Cox Kaplan, regulatory affairs and public policy leader at PwC.
Proof even the best business ideas get ripped apart by Jodi Cerretani, senior director of marketing at MobileDay.
Here’s how to make sure your next ideas meeting isn’t a total fail by Kristin Kaufman, founder and president of Alignment, Inc.
Why managers need to stop sugar-coating the truth by Perry Yeatman, CEO of Perry Yeatman Global Partners.
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.