“Looks good Dan” states Joe, VP of Sales for a large distribution company. “We need to improve the lead generation process. You guys can do it in half the time much better than we can. All I need to do is get my boss Dave to approve it. We are good to go after that happens.”
‘Yikes’. I thought as I sat in the conference room. "We have a long way to go to sell this idea to the boss. I am going to have to help Joe."
Over 73% of all ideas are lost here. The buying process stage where the ‘influencer’ knows what the problem really is. The ‘influencer’ is in the stage: identify and involve other stakeholders. And the key stakeholder is always their boss. But how do I sell the boss on the solution to fix the problem? What ways can I prioritize this problem to solution in his eyes? How do I make sure he cares about it?
Download our Idea Preparation Checklist. It will get you ready to have that important conversation with the boss. You can create a business case or understand how to self- fund a project. Figure out if your competitors are ahead or if peers are outpacing you. And it can help navigate the political landscape.
There are four main ways to sell the boss on your idea:
Accomplish His Objectives (with your solution): He cares about his compensation. Because his objectives will be closely tied to the way he gets paid. By uncovering what is important to him, you can sell your idea.
Get Emotional Buy In: People buy on emotion. Period. Get the boss excited about the idea. Let him buy into it not through numbers but stories. Paint the picture on how the solution will meet his objectives.
Make Him Look Good In Front of His Boss: Everyone has someone they report to….the CEO, Board, meeting Payroll to Employees etc. Make them get a win is critical to sell them on your idea.
Eliminate Risk. Have an Adoption Plan in Place: Leadership is change management. Get the idea to be adopted means success for everyone. Your boss knows how many times solutions to problems have failed. Create a rigorous implementation plan. Ensure ongoing support and advice. This will ‘seal the deal.’
Our client in the example above (Joe) lived these 4 actions real time. He was struggling getting the boss to understand the problem and endorse his solution. He first understood that although he gets paid on revenue his boss did not. Dave got compensated on revenue and EBITDA. Joe needed to show Dave the process can be self-funded through wasted resources. By painting this picture, Dave understood the story and realized EBITDA is affected. Then came the business case: Simple ROI analysis. But he advanced his idea with testimonials and case studies. And then Joe sealed it with a well thought adoption plan. A complex problem sold to his boss through simple actions.
Sales VPs struggle consistently with selling ideas to their boss. They especially get stalled in the critical step of identifying and involving stakeholders. Consensus across the organization is critical to progress through the buying process.
Call to Action:
Recognize when they are in the critical phase of getting the boss on board. This is where ideas get stalled (and lost) the most.
Don’t rush the 4 actions above. Don’t lose out on the idea here because you tried to go to fast. Match yourself to your boss and the rest of the decision team.
Use this same process for the other decision makers. Have a talent management idea? Get the CHRO on board. Compensation plan change? Understand the CFO and Sales Ops leader.
Remember at this point in the process, anyone can stop the idea. Influencing them is critical to selling it. Repeat each one of the 4 steps above to move through the buying process with your team. Contact me here to help. Please leave a comment about other ways you have sold your idea to the boss.