An Inside Hit

Success in today's workplace includes knowinghow to sell your ideas to colleagues

Do you have what it takes to Simplement your ideas in the face of fierce corporate competition? Of course you do–it’s just a matter of developing the right sales pitch. Karen Smith, a sales manager for a major New York commercial bank, realized that her sharp selling skills would play a key role in her advancement very early in her career. Although she started out as a branch teller, Smith was determined to move into other areas of the bank that offered greater employment opportunities.

Her first sales pitch was to her boss. Smith convinced him that she could handle additional responsibilities by showing her creativity on a daily basis. “While some of my fellow coworkers did only what was required, I knew I had to go above and beyond my job description to get noticed,” Smith explains, who joined the bank in 1988. “While moving from teller to a sales position was very rare in my company, I was convinced that I could do the job well, and I made others believe in me too.”

Part of her strategy was to make herself visible. She built a partnership with her supervisor by volunteering for projects and making herself a resource for him to bounce ideas off of. She then familiarized herself with bank products and services and made suggestions to customers as she handled their daily banking transactions. She monitored company job postings and applied for a sales associate position, which eventually lead to a-sales manager post.

In her current position, she uses her selling skills to gain the support of her staff. “I’m not a one-woman show,” says Smith. “I try to enroll everyone m my vision by showing each person what special talents they can contribute to the project.” It’s not altruism that drives most people to work every day. Besides income, people want to know how an organizational change or new idea will benefit them individually.

Last quarter, when Smith told her sales staff that they would have to increase their sales goals by 20%, the idea was met with discontent. “I had to sell them on their strong points and go to each person and tell them in what areas they could improve,” recalls Smith. As a result, all quotas were met.

So how can you convince your colleagues that your ideas are worth the investment? “Whether you realize it or not, you’re always selling,” says Jonathan Jackson, account manager at the New York Times. All of the interactions you have with your fellow colleagues and superiors are opportunities for others to evaluate your value to the company, he believes. If you’ve established yourself as a credible person, then it’s easier to gain buy-in from co-workers. “Selling your ideas really depends on how well you can identify what your company’s needs are and how well you can fulfill these needs,” adds Jackson. Use the following tips when selling ideas at work:

  • Know your company. Who should you pitch your ideas to first? Who would care about your idea? Understanding your
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