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Can You Sell Your Ideas? Play This Game and Find Out!

Do you have great ideas? Good for you! But be forewarned: selling an idea is not like selling a product. With a product, customers can see what they're buying. With an idea, there's nothing to see except you and whatever visions of the future you can conjure.

Here's a fun interactive game that tests whether or not you've got what it takes to sell your ideas. Make your best move, but watch out! One false move and you might annoy decision-makers and ruin your chances!

SCENARIO: You've got a killer idea that can help your firm (and your career) reach the next level of success. What's your first move?

  • CLICK HERE to sound out your boss. Before you sell anything, you must lay the groundwork. It may take multiple meetings, but your best move is to start the process with an exploratory "cold call." Your boss will appreciate your energy, and it will build momentum for the final decision.
  • CLICK HERE to share your idea with your peers. The best way to make a big sale is to get all the stakeholders on board. Since your idea is such a good one, you need friends and allies to move the idea forward and convince the boss to sign on the dotted line.
  • CLICK HERE to assess your own credibility. Are you sure that you want to do this? You may not be the kind of person or have the background that will convince the boss (or anyone else) that your idea is any good. So best you take stock before taking action.
OOPS. YOU'VE ANNOYED YOUR BOSS.
The most important rule in business is: timing is everything.

Your timing was off. Way off.

Your idea didn't make any sense to the boss, who had only one thing to say: "Get back to work!"

OOPS. YOU'VE BECOME A TARGET.
Your peers either think your idea sucks, or wishes they'd thought of it themselves.

Now they're all plastering your inbox (and that of your boss) with "why this won't work" memos.

Sorry. Your idea is officially a dead duck.

EXCELLENT! YOU MADE THE RIGHT MOVE!
Unless you're a plausible source, nobody's going to buy the idea from you. CEOs don't take corporate strategy tips from mailroom clerks, no matter how brilliant. On the other hand, a top-performing district manager will likely get a fair hearing, even if he's not upper-management.

So let's assume that you're a reasonably credible source for this kind of idea. Now you've got to figure out how to move the idea forward. What's your next move?

  • CLICK HERE to write an elevator pitch. If you're going to sell this idea, you need the right sales tool. Boiling the idea down to a two-or-three sentence sales pitch will allow you to explain it quickly and simply to anyone who wants to know.
  • CLICK HERE to research the boss's position. You'll be asking your boss to make a decision, so you need to know where your boss is coming from, when it comes to issues of this sort. You decide to ask around and find out what's what, before going any further.
  • CLICK HERE to write a detailed proposal. As with all important ideas, the devil is in the details. Writing a formal document is the best way to make sure that you've got all the data in line, before you move the idea forward.
OOPS. YOU'VE BEEN REASSIGNED TO THE MARKETING GROUP.
That's the kind of move that marketing professional would try.

Your boss has therefore reassigned you to the marketing group.

Enjoy the group writing sessions!

OOPS. YOU'VE BEEN REASSIGNED TO THE ENGINEERING GROUP.
Only a propeller-head would write a full, detailed proposal for an internal idea, especially when you have little or no idea why your boss would be interested in moving the idea forward.

Your boss has therefore reassigned you to the engineering group, which, as usual, is more interested in celebrating the new Star Trek movie than working on new products.

K'plah!

EXCELLENT! YOU MADE THE RIGHT MOVE!
When you approach your boss, she's going to have three questions in the back of her mind:
  1. Is this person competent, based upon past performance?
  2. Is this person speaking with candor or handing me some BS?
  3. Does this person care about me and my issues, or just about the idea?
You're only going to make the sale if the answer to all three questions is a resounding "YES!" And that means thinking through your boss's position.

OK. You've decided that the idea makes sense for your boss. What's your next move?

EXCELLENT! YOU MADE THE RIGHT MOVE!
People don't get excited about the facts behind an idea; they embrace the story that surrounds the facts. For the idea to be salable, it must make intuitive sense to the idea-buyer. Likewise, it should also make the buyer feel good about the decision to adopt your idea.

The best way to build such a narrative is to tie it to current events within your corporate environment. For example, did your firm just lose a big customer? Chances are boss is worried about a larger exodus-that's her worldview. So your idea should directly address the question of how to win customers back.

OK. You've got a narrative that's compelling from your boss's point of view. What's your next move?


EXCELLENT! YOU MADE THE RIGHT MOVE!
Even the boldest decision-makers want to cover their bottoms, so you need to handle potential problems and objections right up front. Turn to a trusted friend or colleague to act as a reality-check, to ensure that you're not just huffing your own fumes. Get your friend to list every doubt or glitch that comes to mind.

OK. You know what objections might come up. How do you deal with them?


EXCELLENT! YOU MADE THE RIGHT MOVE!
You avoided the temptation to brush-off the objections and instead are treating each objection as a practical problem that demands an effective response.

For example, if the objection is "we did this before and it didn't work," be ready to articulate how your idea is substantially different. Similarly, if the objection is that the idea will cost too much to implement, you should prepare a spreadsheet that shows to fit it into the current budget.

The end result of this process is an internal memo describing all of the above.

OK. You've written the memo and you're ready to email it to your manager? Who should be on the mailing list?

CONGRATULATIONS!
Now that you've done your homework and written the memo, all you need to is the "close" which in this case is making sure that the boss signs on to take the first steps.

The future is bright, and so are you!

Here are two other Sales Machine games:

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