Selling Your Ideas

April 1, 2000

2 Min Read
Selling Your Ideas

Bill Knapp

You have what you believe is a great idea that would revolutionize how sanitation is handled in your community. However, there is one small problem. How do you sell your idea to others?

Take a tip from the people who sell you equipment and products, advertisers. Like savvy promoters, advertisers realize that you have to use a campaign to sell your idea. You'll want to win approval of your concept, wage a war in fact, and be prepared for all contingencies.

It is most important to take time to get organized. For example, sketch out your concept on flip charts, paper, erasable boards, or even napkins. (I tend to write on anything, with anything, when excited about a new idea.) Taking time to prepare your concept will help with your vision for its future presentation.

Next, discuss your idea with those around you or with those who work for you. Start by explaining the concept and asking for an honest opinion. Listen carefully to their responses. Sharing your idea may point out potential flaws or help to expand the concept. It's valuable to share your ideas because you will gain practice presenting, decide if improvements can be made to your delivery and then make needed adjustments.

When you are ready to present your ideas, there are a few presentation tips to keep in mind:

* Prior to the presentation, ask yourself how the idea furthers the interests of your audience.

* Tailor your presentation to emphasize your audience's interests.

* Defuse any concerns your audience may have in the beginning by acknowledging pressing problems. Be sure to show how your idea solves these problems.

*If appropriate, make sure you acknowledge the idea originally was generated by the audience, or their constituency.

After presenting your idea and hearing your audience's suggestions - it's important to be flexible with your vision. For example:

* Don't resist making changes. Clinging to a bad idea could jeopardize your credibility and increase the possibility that your colleagues will not take you seriously in the future.

* If your idea is not accepted, and later it turns out that not accepting it was a mistake, try not to gloat. (Though a bit of quiet snickering may be allowed, if done discretely!)

* Be careful of self-promotion. It's a tricky enterprise, especially in a large bureaucracy. Trying to upstage superiors can be suicidal.

Keep in mind that all solid waste operations are cooperative affairs. The ability to sell your ideas will make a difference throughout your career. Even if your ideas aren't always accepted - trying shows initiative.

Besides, in my opinion, there are three roads you can take in your career. You can choose to march in place until retirement. You can be a closet complainer until you're fired. Or you can do the best job you can with enthusiasm and skill.

Anything else is boring as hell!

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