How to get your big idea off the ground and making money

In 2019, it's not enough to have a great, big, fantastical, behemoth of a game-changing idea. 

Stakeholders, investors, bosses and even your own team need a little wining and dining to get it over the line. 

In short, they need to be sold in. 

Start close

Jane Lu, CEO of online retail giant Showpo says she spent the early days of the business trying to sell her ideas to her friends and family. She said it was hard to "stay focused" and that ultimately she had to learn how to "back herself" in order to move forward. 

Nine years later, Lu says she is "selling new ideas to the team" daily.

"It's such a different experience to when I first started out" she explains.

"It's much more collaborative now I've got a team behind me to help build them out."

Get the timing right

Alongside belief and confidence, recognising the difference between early and later stage selling is key to getting it right says Dan Hakim, CEO of CUB, a private members club bringing together Australia's business leaders. 

"At the start of CUB I was selling the business to potential members on emotive terms. I was selling a raw product," he says. 

Advertisement

"I had to learn how to articulate the value of our offering, even what our offering was at the time."

Know your product

Hakim says that those early days provided a lot of opportunity to hone his pitch technique as well as understand what it was he was selling. 

"I would always ask people why they joined after they joined," he asserts. 

"Much of the business we have now came out of those conversations. You need to recognise that you won't know it right from the start. Selling your idea never ends."

Always improve

Lu agrees and cites her early days of feedback and iteration as steps on the ladder to success. 

"If you don't believe in it, why should anyone else?... You're never going to get better at something if you don't just jump in and do it, "so have a bias for action," she advises. "Reflect on past scenarios and take learnings from them."

Hakim recommends that after "each sales meeting or pitch" you should "make a note and identify what happened in a conversation" when it goes the desired way. 

This formed the basic framework for the script that Hakim's sales staff now work from, one constantly being "honed".

Tried ain't always true

One of the most common mistakes Lu sees when it comes to selling, is people sticking to a format because it has worked in the past. 

"There's always a better way to do something," she impresses, citing her ideal sales strategy as one being made up of three simple things:

  • Back yourself and believe in your idea.
  • Use feedback to improve your pitch.
  • Continually iterate to make your idea bigger and better.

Test your formula

Hakim takes a slightly more formulaic approach. 

"Pitch your present and keep it simple," he advises. 

"Nobody remembers the whole pitch, so make sure the bit they do remember counts". Hakim uses four-step to crafting a great framework, which has been refined over time:

1. Passion and values

"This is the connection between you and them, demonstrating you understand them and what they need."

2. Services and delivery

"This is the logistical part of your pitch. This is how do you do what you say you can do. This builds trust."

3. Special

"It may sound a little cliché, but the best sales men and women have a way of making the people in a room feel special, feel valued. It can't hurt reinforcing likability and trust."

4. Self-Accountability

"Are you willing to put your name and business on the line? If you truly believe in your services and what you do, you should feel comfortable doing this in front of people. It's the strongest way to end any pitch if you ask me."

Making it in Hollywood

Giovanni Pacialeo, an Executive Producer and Director, spent years working on Hollywood blockbusters like The Matrix and Superman before starting Benchmark Media and Entertainment. As a maker of TV shows like My Family Feast and Sean's Kitchen, he spends a significant amount of time pitching new ideas to national TV execs.

"I always start with understanding what the market wants or the client is looking for," he explains. 

"If what I have to say doesn't fit their schedule then it doesn't matter how good an idea it is, it won't tick their boxes."

Valuable lessons

Regardless of what you are selling, Lu, Hakim and Pacialeo all agree that you need to be able to demonstrate "real value" and the only way you can do that is by having an idea that you can prove solves a problem, alongside a method which explains how it does that.

"It's pretty simple really," says Pacialeo. "You have to be able to clearly express your vision in a way that someone can visualise themselves. It's not easy but that's the craft."

51698009