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Want to make sure your ideas get the spotlight they deserve? Pay attention to these important details.

Carolee Colter, Human Resources Team

September 18, 2013

2 Min Read
5 tips to sell a big idea to your boss

You have a good idea. You run it by a few workmates. You tweak it. You pitch it to your boss. And she says no.

Where did you go wrong? Perhaps you just didn’t know how to make your case. Follow these tips and you’ll have a much better chance of getting what you want next time.

Learn her language. Anytime you want people to understand what you have to say, you must learn to speak their language, rather than expecting them to learn yours. Does your boss speak finance? Customer service? Big picture? Figure this out first, so you can best frame the discussion.

Choose your timing. Timing is critical when you want your boss to listen. Ask her when are the best times to speak with her, and be realistic about how long your discussion will take. Be prepared to pitch your idea right then—the best time for her may be now.

Polish key points.Your boss isn’t a mind reader. To get what you want, you have to ask for it—and be very clear. Whatever information you leave out of the story will only make your pitch harder for her to grasp. A poorly informed boss can’t make the best decisions for your business.

Tailor your approach.Consider how to keep your boss informed at a level that fits her work style. If she likes conversations short and sweet, keep your pitch that way, or else you might lose her before you get to the most important part. If your boss is already overwhelmed, frame the conversation so that your project doesn’t seem like another burden. To do so, use language of possibility: “I can increase sales for the department, and to do this I need new shelves for better merchandising.” That’s a powerful statement, because you use the word and, which connects the two ideas, and you provide a solution to a problem.

Adjust your attitude.If your pitch doesn’t fly the first time, focus on what you can change. Ask your boss what you could do better the next time when presenting an idea. Also, many of us have pitched great ideas and been turned down, only to realize a year later that it was a blessing. Regardless, learn from the process. You’ll get better each time and eventually get what’s best for you, the store and everyone concerned.

Mark Mulcahy, contributed to this article.

About the Author(s)

Carolee Colter

Human Resources Team, CDS Consulting Co-op

Carolee Colter started her career working for a natural foods co-op distributor in 1973 and right away found that human resources were her niche because she has always been interested in what makes for a positive workplace. Throughout the years, she has helped hundreds of co-ops and independent retailers with management training, employee surveys and HR systems.

Colter is part of Human Resources Team of CDS Consulting Co-op.

The goal of the Human Resources Team of CDS Consulting Co-op is to help our clients become employers of choice in their communities, by cultivating a culture of empowerment, engagement and accountability.


Click here to read more articles by Carolee Colter. 

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