Fuel INjected In-house: It’s About Time(ing)

If your pitches are tanking, fine-tune your timing.

If you’re striking out when selling ideas to bosses and clients, maybe your timing is off.

Timing is everything when selling fresh ideas. To understand its value, look at Apple. Steve Jobs has an exquisite ability to time his most innovative introductions for widespread approval and remarkable success. Apple’s disruptive, breakthrough products appear at times when technology is ready to support them and markets are ready to receive them.

That’s not always the case with Apple’s competitors. Sony launched its Memory Stick Walkman in 1999, but technology back then limited storage on a small digital player to about 20 songs. And recording companies were turning a blind eye to online music, instead clinging to their precious CDs.

But when Apple introduced iPod and iTunes a few years later, vastly improved technology allowed storage for hundreds of songs. And there was a sudden window of opportunity for online music in the marketplace.

“The iTunes store was made possible, in part, because the five major music companies were desperate for a solution to the pirating problem,” marketer David Aaker recently told Marketing News. “They were enticed to sell single songs for 99 cents over the Internet.”

Bill Gates introduced the Microsoft Tablet PC in 2000, but it never gained traction. Tablet technology at that time was clumsy, and consumers saw few uses for a portable electronic gadget in their everyday lives.

But when Jobs came out with the iPad 10 years later, polished technology provided a fast, fun product. And people were itching for a simple, portable way to consume the multitude of social and entertainment media buzzing around the marketplace.

Before pitching your next idea, pay close attention to timing:

1. The right time for decision makers.

Just because the idea is ready to present doesn’t mean you’re ready to present it. Before picking a time to pitch, make sure you fully understand decision makers. Do you really know their wants and needs? Likes and dislikes? Goals and objectives? Fears and concerns? And have you strategically scheduled the pitch for a time when you’ll have the complete, uninterrupted attention of your clients?

2. The right time for target audiences.

Be sure the timing of the idea is right for all stakeholders. Is it really the optimum time to bring the idea to life or should you wait for certain conditions to change? Do you know everything you need to know about the marketplace? Competitors? End users?

3. The right time for resources.

Is the time right for obtaining backup support your idea needs to succeed? Do you have (or can you suggest how to acquire) resources to bring your idea to life? Can you effectively discuss funding? Technology? Manpower? Marketing? Return on investment?

Sam Harrison will speak on “Selling Idea to Internal Clients and Bosses” at the inHOWse Managers Conference on June 26. He 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