Five Steps to Sell An Idea to Senior ManagementEarly in 2007, Geoffrey James posted an article at bnet.com that offers good advice on how to win thoughtful consideration of an idea you believe will help your organization.
The article is short and easy to read, so I'll just outline what you'll find there:
Confirm that you and your idea are a credible match.
People you approach with the idea have to believe you know what you're talking about.
Frame your idea with a strong narrative.
Help people see intuitive sense in what you're suggesting, and help them feel good about endorsing it.
Map the idea to the perspective of the decision-maker.
For instance, if the decision-maker is the CFO, he/she is apt to be focused on return on investment. On the other hand, if you're dealing with the COO, a key issue is apt to be the likelihood of smooth implementation.
Reduce or eliminate downside risk.
The decision-maker will undoubtedly think about what could go wrong with your plan. Anticipate concerns, and prepare responses that show how risks can be substantially mitigated (e.g., through using a pilot to test and refine the idea).
Close the deal.
You need to "create momentum to keep your idea moving forward."
In a companion item, James offers contrasting "Wrong Way" and "Right Way" memos to illustrate what he believes is the best way to broach your idea in writing to a senior manager.
Earlier this month, James added a post to his "Sales Machine" blog at bnet.com that lets you test your grasp of the above process. It's a good refresher.