Fuel INjected In-house: Get In Sync With The Sell

It’s not enough to have ideas. You have to sell them.

“Actually, it doesn’t matter one bit to me whether you’re any good at design,” says Seth Godin. “The odds are you probably are very good. It doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you can sell designs to your clients.”

In a recent editorial for Before & After design blog, Godin went on to say: “…For too long, people who are passionate about design have accepted their lot. It’s completely acceptable for designers to grumble about lousy clients. We apologize for our work, saying, ‘Well, it’s the best the client would let me do.’ You should be ashamed to say stuff like this. Great design is not a luxury, and a compliant (even enthusiastic) client should not be a rarity.”

Godin’s comments back the truth that good ideas simply do not sell themselves. In fact, the better and bolder the ideas, the more they need selling. Because we’re asking decision makers to let go of old and familiar ideas to grab fresh and different ideas. And, as Godin points out, that takes selling. Tons of selling.

In my book IdeaSelling (which Seth kindly endorsed), I quote him saying this: “There’s no correlation between how good your idea is and how likely your organization will be to embrace it. None. It’s not about good ideas. It’s about selling those ideas and making them happen. If you’re failing to get things done, it’s not because your ideas suck. It’s because you don’t know how to sell them.”

How about you and your team? Are you effectively presenting your designs? Here are three steps to boost idea-selling ratios.

1. Review five designs turned down by bosses or clients. Were the rejections justified because of faulty design? Or were problems with the pitches? If it’s the latter, decide ways you could have improved the presentations.

2. For your next project, try including decision makers in the creative process – right from the beginning. Involve them in exploration and discovery. Bring them in on brainstorms. Get their feedback on rough prototypes. You’ll better understand their objectives. They’ll better understand your creative decisions. And they’ll have a sense of ownership in the idea. Consequently, they’ll be less likely to blast your solutions at the final presentation.

3. For the remaining seven months in 2011, establish a specific action plan for polishing your presentation skills. Read a few books. Schedule in-house training for your team. Take a public-speaking class. Solicit tips from successful sales people in your family and circle of friends.

Thanks to Greg Waddell, Benchworks creative director, for passing along the Seth Godin editorial. To read in its entirety: http://www.mcwade.com/DesignTalk/

Sam Harrison will speak on “Selling Idea to Internal Clients and Bosses” at the inHOWse Managers Conference on June 26. Sam Harrison is a speaker, workshop leader and writer on creativity-related topics. His latest book, IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers, was released by HOW Books last fall. He is also the author of IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea, and Zing!: Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command. Find him at www.zingzone.com


2 thoughts on “Fuel INjected In-house: Get In Sync With The Sell

  1. Dave

    I really thought your article was insightful. I couldn’t agree more about the fact that selling your ideas is really where the rubber meets the road. In the end you must build value in your product or people won’t buy it.
    It is difficult to break preconceived notions people have about design and what should be paid for that service. And I also think its about who you know and can convince. If you can break into that inner circle in the business you have a much better chance of selling your idea, no matter how bad it might be!

    1. Sam Harrison

      Dave – Thanks for your kind comments. I totally agree — the value of the design has to be effectively communicated to get go-aheads. And yep, getting to the right decision makers is also critical — as is knowing the likes, dislikes, wants and needs of those DMs.
      Sam Harrison