Knowing how to sell ideas is a critical skill to add to your professional toolkit. Build a successful career in the creative industry by mastering these four key sales strategies.
1. Do Your Homework
Fully understand the ins and outs of your chosen concept by educating yourself prior to pitching. Research a cross-section of reliable, well-respected sources. During the vetting process you’ll need cold hard facts supporting your idea readily available because clients and colleagues will challenge you. Nothing impresses smart clients more than being prepared to share a new insight about their industry, competitors or customers. This is especially true if the information can be used to improve their organization’s offerings or position within the industry.
2. Care Deeply
You must truly care about the idea for others to begin to take it seriously. Remember that most people gravitate to passionate people and you can’t be passionate without caring first. As a creative director, you can’t adequately lead a project brainstorming session and ignite excitement if you’re apathetic about the project.
I remember working on an economic development assignment that featured several historic bed and breakfast inns. As pleasant as the project sounds, it was a high-stakes octopus of an assignment with many moving parts. I had the idea of creating a calendar that opened like the grand double doors of a B&B. I was extremely passionate about the idea and believed it was critical to conveying the warmth and graciousness experienced at these B&Bs.
Selling this seemingly small but wildly expensive idea to our client, my team and the printing and binding vendors was a Herculean task. Without question, my passion was what ultimately enabled me to sell the idea.
3. Observe and Listen
It’s important to understand how each of your clients and colleagues like to communicate – and be communicated with. Someone who is boisterous and outgoing may respond differently (both verbally and nonverbally) than someone who is reserved and quiet. Be sensitive to these differences and learn the unique communication style of the person you’re pitching.
4. Focus On What’s In It for the Stakeholders
Step outside yourself, put your needs aside and clearly explain how your big idea will benefit others. This is absolutely the best way to gain support and buy-in. I’ve found this approach to be very effective when negotiating production costs with vendors, for instance. When vendors can see how they’ll benefit from working on a highly creative assignment – one that allows them to showcase their full capabilities – only then are they willing to make concessions on fees. Why? They can use the results from the collaboration to attract new business.
You might be wondering if my parents cosigned my plan to go to Italy and visit the Sistine Chapel. Well, I figured out how to sell them on the idea. Many of the tactics I used to persuade my parents then, I still use today: researching, caring, observing, listening and clearly articulating what’s in it for the other stakeholders. Each of these selling tactics can be effective, but when combined, they elevate the act of selling to a fine art.
This post previously appeared on The Creative Group.
Join us for more tips and inspiration on June 14 at the VMA Design Conference, part of Sf design Week at Bespoke in San Francisco.