Very Often, the greater challenge of implementing ideas is the ‘selling-In’ them to your superiors, managing director or the board!
Ask any marketing manager or the ‘line’ functional manager and he would admit that the biggest challenge he faces is selling innovative ideas to the management. Mostly, the management are risk-averse or there are bureaucracy layers to be negotiated with, before to getting the idea heard by the management. I used to work for stationery/ office products company and they were used to a monopolistic situation being the leader in the trade. It was getting difficult to implement my ideas of new business proposition in a ‘laid back’ company despite the fact they have a pan-India presence. The ‘pitch’ was not getting entry to address the concerned decision maker in the organisation. Eventually, I had to take the help of a ‘godfather’ in the organisation as he was convinced by my ideas. In effect, I was being heard but I could not take credit for that!
But, more often than not, the marketing managers go to the meetings unpractised, unrehearsed and without the critical ingredients of the ‘pitch’. Now, that is very ‘disappointing’ and wasting time, if they want to bring about ‘value additional’ change in the perspective of management. In case, they are not well-equipped to make a presentation that would make an desired ‘impact’, they could engage external agencies to do the job of ‘Selling-In’. Typically, in a small organisation wherein there is no heirarchy and could be a proprietorship kind of management, it is better to engage an external force/ agency. Ideas routed through them are more likely to be heard giving weight to external agency’s merits or track record.
Involving the company as a whole becomes necessary since the co-operation of all other personnel or departments is mandatory for success of Ideas. Besides, the key to selling your ideas is to know your target audience well so that you can ‘pitch’ ideas tailor-made for them. While working for multinational printing company, I realised, there were no channel health schemes and the ‘concerned’ business manager could not conceive of any right practice to build the channel. And, this approach did not appeal to me, as the reputation of mine and the company were at stake. So, I mooted the idea of ‘personal approach’ to inculcate loyalty amongst channel members to sell genuine products. It worked well but implementing this idea/ approach would lead to exposure of existing practice of supporting channel – So, though the idea was ‘right’, it was not accepted.
If an idea needs support, it should be well presented with detailed data and figures, to the internal audience in prior – as they form the essential ingredient for the success of Idea and its implementation. And, it is better to involve the superiors/ management/ other departments concerned….. from the early stages of Idea generation so that there is no gap in understanding amongst themselves. Selling ideas successfully involves encouraging the superiors/ management or others concerned – to buy into the concept at key stages, effectively letting them embrace the idea to the same extent as the marketer and taking shared ownership for its success.