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How can I sell an idea to my boss?

Ok, so you have this great idea that you're convinced will work, and you take it to your boss, who promptly turns it down.  What's the best way to get an idea given a fair hearing?


I find the best way to progress ideas is to convince the boss that it came from something he said, or that it was his idea, but he has forgotten about it.

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You should be thinking "what will be the return on investment be" whether that is time or money or other.

If its a good return ratio in your mind start by stating the outcome first. For instance - "I know how to save the company £xK per annum" or "I know how to reduce the staff turnover by 10% in less than a year!".


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Go prepared.

Make sure you go armed with all the relevant facts such as: 

- the current business situation
- why you think it needs to change. This may include carrying out a SWOT or PEST analysis to demonstrate gaps in the market
- provide the relevant supporting evidence against which your idea was developed
- propose how you will implement the new idea and any implications there may be to resources. These could be operational, financial or other staff members time
- the benefits to your manager, your team and your organisation.

I also find it really helps if you can identify your managers key motivations at that particular time. It may be, for example, they are looking to cut costs, increase revenue or raise their profile. If you know what it is and you can shape your case around these it will definitely be an advantage.

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Pick your time . Approach at a time when they will be most receptive. That probably means getting to know your boss , when are their most receptive days / times / moods / what is their workload like etc

So Know your boss 

Pick your approach carefully . Some managers need time to think . Give them it .Others prefer to make quick decisions , some want to discuss . 


Be prepared 

Simplify the idea . Make it as understandable as possible 

Try to show the benefits for all stakeholders , that its likely to affect which could be  the business , staff , bank , suppliers or others 

Think through what the objections could be , be prepared for them , showing solutions on how to overcome the difficulties 

Dont present a "done deal " or expect one . Have respect for the decision maker and this respect will help drive through the idea

Be positive about your idea . Its infectious . If you really believe in it others are more likely to

Finally if its a yes . Say thank you . Make sure the decision maker realises you appreciate their involvement . It will make it easier for the decision maker to say yes next time . And saying yes can become a habit , nurture the habit , reward that good behaviour from a boss by simply saying thank you i really appreciate your support.  

If the answer is no , ask respectfully ( if you still believe in it ) "I really appreciate your interest in my idea and Thanks for giving my idea a hearing ,  I'm  dissapointed that its a no , I really believe in this idea , are there any improvements that you feel i could make to the idea or the presentation which could make it a winner ?"

Or " I understand the NO entirely . Youve really helped shape how I will put ideas together in future . I Appreciate  *the timing was wrong* (insert whats appropriate) Do you feel that it would be worthwhile coming back to the idea if we looked at this in 6 months or could improve ABCD . In short respect the opinion but find a way to leave the door open .

The best ideas often need patience and often need the engagement of others if you are to win them over.

Finally remember this is not a rejection of YOU its a rejection of your idea . Keep banging away. 2 ideas out of a hundred which become winners are better than No ideas at all .

Good luck      


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