The key to convincing people that your innovation is great is to sell them on something other than your innovation…
“What’s the best way to sell innovation?” This was a question I was recently asked by a client.
He’s an innovation leader in his company and he wanted to sell the concept of innovation internally, to sell specific ideas internally, to sell the solutions externally, and maybe even pitch to potential investors.
I thought about books he might read. For his last need, I recommended Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff. This is a book I’ve read twice and listened to on audio book. It’s a brilliant approach for pitching to investors.
There were other books I considered. But in the end, when I looked at the bigger picture of his innovation challenge, I recommended some ancient wisdom: Aristotle’s “Rhetorical Triangle.” This was his approach to using language to persuade others.
The three corners of this triangle are “ethos, pathos, and logos.” Ethos is credibility, pathos is empathy, and logos is logic. I find that selling your ideas using this construct, typically in that order, leads to more persuasive arguments and more effective sales pitches.
First, establish your credibility. You need people to listen to you before they can truly hear your ideas. They will only listen if the think you are worthy of their time. Why should they believe you? So, before trying to sell your ideas, make sure people believe you, trust you, and want to listen to you. You want to do this without it sounding like you are hyping yourself, because that can quickly turn off listeners. Therefore it is useful to get someone else to sing your praises. Testimonials and social proof can build credibility. A warm introduction from someone who has already established credibility with your target audience can go a long way. In my role as a professional speaker, this “warming up the audience” is critical. Therefore, before taking the stage, it is customary for an executive from the client to read an introduction that establishes my credibility. If you are selling internally, then maybe this step is not necessary, or can happen very quickly.
Once people are bought into “you,” it’s time to build an emotional connection.