Hello and welcome back to the Business Skills 360 podcast. I’m Tim Simmons and today we’re going to take a look at how to ‘sell’ your ideas.
You may be full of great ideas, but exactly how do you get people to buy into them? How do you get people on board with your brilliant plans? Well, today I want to share a few tools and techniques that will help you do just that.
These tools and techniques have two important effects: they build connections and they build credibility. The connections can be between you and your listeners, but they can also be between your listeners and your idea. Those connections will generate buy-in. And that credibility can be your credibility and your idea’s credibility. You, and your idea, have to be believable and trustworthy.
Okay, let’s start simple. One of the most basic yet powerful tools you can use is a person’s name. People love to hear their own name repeated in conversation. It makes them feel important. It tells them that you care about them as individuals. This creates a strong personal connection between you and your listeners, which makes them more receptive to your ideas. So instead of telling me, “I think you should do a presentation on your project,” tell me this: “Tim, I think you should do a presentation on your project.” The effect is subtle, but strong.
Great. Now, let’s talk about what you do with your idea. You need to help people connect to that idea, to understand it, and to see how great it is. Making comparisons can help do that. People love to compare things, situations, points in time, people… We do it naturally, it’s how we organize our world and how we evaluate things. So show people the difference between your idea and others. Show them exactly how your idea will make a difference. It’s like the before and after pictures in an ad for a weight loss product. It’s clear and persuasive, and people will be able to connect better with your idea.
Now, why should people believe you? Well, you and your ideas need credibility. You need to demonstrate that you’ve thought your ideas through, and that there is good reason to believe in them. To demonstrate that, you need to give evidence and provide concessions. Evidence is basically proof that your idea is a good one. Don’t assume others might agree with you just because you’re a fun colleague or a hard worker. Tell them why you believe what you do, and if the reasons are strong enough, they’ll believe it too. Keep the evidence real. Show them examples that they can relate to, ideas that improve that connection between them and your idea.
And then there’s concession. Giving concessions means actually mentioning evidence or ideas that go against what you’re trying to say. Don’t talk about this too much, but show that you realize things aren’t black and white, that nothing is perfect. It improves your credibility. Just think about the last time you heard someone refuse to admit any kind of criticism of their idea. That person didn’t sound too reasonable, did they?
Now, there’s another reason to mention ideas that go against yours: to knock them down. You set them up, then you knock them down. You have to anticipate the criticism or the arguments against your idea. Then you acknowledge them. You say exactly what they are. And then you say why they don’t make sense or should be ignored. In this way, you are taking and destroying weapons against your idea. It’s a preemptive strike, so to speak.
So remember, your ideas are only truly great if you can sell them to others. And to do that, use people’s names, use comparison, give them evidence and concessions, and knock down your opposition’s ideas before they get a chance to mention them. With those techniques, your ideas will stick.
That’s all for today. Next week we’ll look at different attitudes you can adopt that will help sell your ideas. If you’d like to test yourself on what we’ve just covered, have a look at the myBEonline.com website. There you’ll find a quiz about today’s show as well as a complete transcript.
Thanks for listening, and see you again soon.
1. Do you have tricks or techniques that you use to persuade people of your opinions?
2. In which work situations do you often need to convince people of your ideas?
3. Think of people you think are good at ‘selling’ their ideas. What techniques do they use?