How to Sell Your Big Idea at a Big Company

February 10, 2020

How to Sell Your Big Idea at a Big Company

You have that light bulb moment. Now what? 

Maybe you’re new to the company or early in your career, but you have a big idea that can impact the business. Is there room for big ideas from people outside of senior leadership at big companies? The short answer is YES.

There’s a reason traditional, top-down companies are so big and successful—they hire star employees like you and support your ideas. 

In fact, “the bigger the organization, the bigger the opportunities to make massive change,” says Robbie Kellman Baxter

Here are three steps to sell your big idea at a big company. 

3 steps to sell your big idea in a big company 

#1 Rally your support team

Step one is to build support for your idea. Start with your immediate manager, but don’t stop there. 

Reach out to your ‘friendlies’ within the company and mentors in the industry. Ask for feedback and work out the initial kinks in your idea with this trusted circle before sharing it with more critical colleagues. 

Then turn to others in your company who will be most impacted by the idea. 

“Many good ideas have been killed because of politics and turf battles,” says Baxter. “So make sure you understand how your idea impacts people across your organization and work to build support.”

The more people who get behind you, the more likely your idea will take flight. 

#2 Test and learn 

Once you have buy-in, it’s time to prove your idea has merit by running a small-scale test. (In the product world, this is known as your minimum viable product or MVP.)

Move forward aggressively and creatively, and experiment by leveraging the following guidelines: 

  • Set a clear scope for your experiment.

  • Define clear success metrics that won’t take too long to reach.

  • Test it out and report back. If it meets success criteria, invest more time and keep moving forward.

  • If it doesn’t, test multiple hypotheses until you’ve proven to yourself that the idea won’t work. Then you can move on.

Not every test will succeed. But remember: when it comes to big ideas, there’s no such thing as failure—only learning. 

#3 Make the call: scale or pivot

To be successful with a big idea, you need to be ready to analyze and present your findings, and make the move to scale the idea or and pivot. 

First, stay curious. Don’t hold too tightly to a single outcome. When you keep an open mind, you may stumble on an even better evolution of your original idea. 

Let the data from your test guide the conversation on when to scale and when to pivot. If your test meets or exceeds your goals, you have ample ammunition to propose a scaled version of your idea.

If your test underperforms, identify where it fell short and any surprises. Perhaps the test performed better with an audience you didn’t anticipate; how can you use that finding to pivot the idea?

All learnings are valuable insight that will help inform how you move forward. 

For more advice on how to sell your big ideas, including how to gauge whether your company is ready for disruption, watch Become an Entrepreneur inside a Company with Robbie Kellman Baxter.

Learn how to sell your big ideas in the course "Become an Entrepreneur Inside a Company."

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