Sell Your Ideas in Five Steps


Many in the AEC industry are in the business of selling ideas. Developers sell ideas to investors and users, designers sell ideas to clients, innovators sell ideas to the industry, and so on. In the last century, “Mad Men” sold their ideas with cardboard placards and flip charts. These are still totally valid, but we now have a much richer supply of channels and media at our disposal. So how do we sell ideas effectively today?

In this series of posts, I’m going to walk you through the process of selling your idea. My interest in this issue comes from my work. I sell ideas to our companies’ clients and I help AEC firms sell their ideas.

The five-step process consists of the following topics and respective decision points:

1. Understand what you’re selling and set goals

  • What is the problem you are solving with your idea?
  • What are you actually selling?
  • What is the ROI to you and the customer if the idea becomes a reality?

2. Identify your customers and the ways to influence them

  • Who are your customers and what are their roles in decision-making?
  • What would make them want your idea to be realized?
  • What do you expect your customers to do next?

3. Plan your agenda

  • What are the right ways to communicate your idea; e.g., a story, a business case study, a vision of the future, or a product comparison?

4. Choose the media and channels

  • What communication techniques will best deliver your message; e.g., a prototype, a demo, a podcast, a video, or an article?
  • Through which channels can you best reach your audience; e.g., your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, or industry events?

5. Sell and measure

  • What is the right sequence of selling actions?
  • How do you know if what you do is getting you nearer to your goal?
  • What do you need to change?

Case Study

Senate Properties is a government-owned enterprise under the control of the Finnish Ministry of Finance that acts as the government’s expert on the working environment and working premises. It provides governmental organizations with an online service for space management. Using the service, leaseholders can stay up to date with their space use and facilities-related costs and can optimize their space utilization.

The employment of HTH supports the Finnish government’s goals of increased productivity and cost efficiency in the public sector. However, because implementing HTH is voluntary, promoting the idea of becoming more efficient through office space optimization required a sales effort.

Senate Properties and the Ministry wanted to use rational arguments to make their audience aware of the benefits of using HTH. Our company was commissioned to make a business case study that included success stories, service descriptions, and interviews. Instead of publishing this study as a report, we created a website. The site allowed us to use video and easily make status updates.

Selling the idea of HTH has yielded results. Practically every potential organization subscribed to the service. Time will tell how big an impact HTH will have on the ailing public economy.

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts or questions on selling ideas before I write the coming articles for this series. Please contact me via LinkedIn or write your thoughts in the comment box below!

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