Nothing is more frustrating than being passionate about an idea, product, or tool that you feel will be a very strong benefit for the Company you slave for every single day…and yet you cannot get the approval to move forward.
One MSP-Ignite Service Manager Peer Group member has been trying to convince their owner of purchasing the Auvik Networks infrastructure management tool for two months (if you are the Owner, please listen up – I think it is a great product).
Now I have to confess, I pitched the product on several occasions to the IT Service Managers I was working with, and I was unable to build excitement for the product, also. The MSP-Ignite Service Manager Peer Group members that are using the product swear by the value it provides in augmenting the existing RMM tool.
Selling Your Ideas is an Art – Refine Your Craft
Early in my career, which now spans 35+ years in management, I learned the art of selling my supervisor on my ideas. Three times in my career, I’ve had the privilege of putting forth an operational restructuring proposal – and not only had that proposal accepted – but was actually promoted into the new position created.
One time, after another type of proposal had been accepted, I said to my supervisor, who at the time I had been working with for a year, that he did not need to accept every proposal that I put forth. After all, I had thick skin and could take his rejection. He explained that his acceptance had nothing to do with me, but the fact that the proposals had been well thought out, showed value, and included a full implementation plan.
5 Pointers to Help You Sell That Great Idea
I don’t want to make this whole article all about me, of course. Instead, I wanted to give you some background on the context I’m talking about and why the next 5 pointers are the solution you may be looking for in order to:
- Get your own great ideas across to your supervisor
- Convince them you know what you are talking about
- And most importantly, how to carry out your plan without disruption or setbacks
In other words, how to become the superhero of the company. Ready? Let’s go!
First, know your audience.
Listen to what your supervisor talks about, and specifically what keeps them up at night. As your passion builds for an idea, product, or tool, keep in the back of your mind how it ties into helping your supervisor sleep at night – how it solves his problem or soothes his pain point.
Second, research your idea, product, or tool.
Internalize a rich understanding of what it is and does, and what makes it valuable. Know your “why” and be motivated by it: Why are you so passionate about your idea? Get specific with this to make your case rock solid.
Third, drill down and quantify the value in real dollars…
Because you will need it to sell your idea. There was a time (one of the restructuring proposals that wound up a being a promotion), that a proposal had been presented three times to either my supervisor, his supervisor, or a peer. All had rejected the proposal. One day, the owner called a meeting together of his direct reports and I. The company was struggling and looking at layoffs. He was asking the managers where the cuts would be coming from. None of them seemed to have a suggestion. The owner turned to me and said “Well…”, to which I responded with a copy of my restructuring proposal that had been on the floor under my seat.
He looked it over and asked the other managers what they thought about it. One of them said, “We do not understand it, but we do not see how we can save 176 hours per week and not lose productivity somewhere.” The owner ultimately decided to implement the plan, I was promoted, and the rest is history – except to say the financial impact of saving or repurposing 176 hours of labor (early retirement was a big portion of the saving) materialized as expected.
Fourth, envision, mind trip, and LIVE the implementation process in your mind.
Look for every possible disruption or setback and develop a mitigation plan to address them even before the proposal is presented to the decision maker. For me personally, this process takes weeks to go through: living it over and over again in my mind…running down every what if scenario, including what if the proposal is successful, or what if I really know what I am talking about.
Fifth, it’s time for a meeting.
Once I have the first four steps under my belt and I feel confident, then I ask for a meeting with the decision maker and all the naysayers (remember to keep your friends close and your enemies closer). I rehearse the presentation, including anticipated responses, so much (10-15 times in front of a mirror) that when I am surprised by unanticipated pushback, I know the material so well that I can instinctively answer the question and the meeting moves on.
Have I ever presented a proposal and not had a question or two? NEVER. As a matter of fact, when I was on a team looking for funding for another proposals, after each presentation I would add the answers to the Leave Behind Document (LBD) – before the next presentation. The LBD grew from 15 pages to 50 before I figured out that asking questions and pushing back was all part of the process.
Now, I leave a few obvious questions unanswered and out of the proposal, just so the decision maker can participate in the proposal review/refinement and he feels like it’s now his proposal – which incidentally speeds approval…hint, hint.
Now it’s time for YOU to get your proposals approved…
I very much hope this discussion about my experience has been helpful and worth reading. If you are passionate about something and want to brainstorm the idea and how to implement it, or just want to rehearse your presentation, please schedule a FREE 30-minute coaching call. I would be happy to help.
In summary, here are the 5 steps to getting your proposals approved:
- Know the decision maker.
- Do your research diligently.
- Quantify the value in real dollars.
- Mentally walk-through the implementation or roll out.
- Be passionate and internalize the proposal – know it forward, backward, & upside down.
I’ll leave you with some golden nuggets of wisdom: Do not be disappointed, keep a thick skin.
Over the years, I have had so many proposals rejected on the first presentation. I just put them in a file and wait for the right time.
Most of the time, the situation I was trying to avoid, address, or speak to would come up again on someone’s radar (usually my supervisor’s). I would pull the proposal out, dust it off, update if needed, and represent it until it gets accepted.
Be persistent, keep your confidence up, and stay on top of your game.
Need some more pointers? Schedule a FREE 30-minute coaching call with Steve.
P.S. The Auvik Networks idea (that was never accepted) lacked Passion – my passion. It was not a tool that I needed to get my job done, I just thought it was a tool that would benefit the company. Without passion and a champion of the Idea, Product, or Tool – it will never get off the ground. Tie your passion into your supervisor’s passion and you will have a champion approving your proposals.