How HR can sell ideas to the C-Suite

If you want to be seen as a more strategic player, you have to learn how to sell your ideas to the executive. Here are some tips to help your ideas make the cut.

If you’re like most HR professionals I know, your problem is not how to be innovative. You and your team probably come up with amazing ideas on a regular basis; ideas that will really make a difference to the company. If you’re like most, your challenge is how to get management to invest in your ideas

How can you sell your idea to your boss? Or your boss’ boss?

Most smart executives will be open to an idea that benefits the company, as long as they recognize it as such. And we all know that HR has a lot of strategically sound, really good ideas. The disconnect, then, is in the executives’ understanding of the idea. And that’s where our opportunity lies. We can take steps to help them better understand what’s being proposed and how it will benefit the company. Here are some thoughts on how:

Start Early

Don’t wait until you’re ready for a Go/No-Go decision to pitch your idea to the boss. Get her involved early. Instead of trying to sell an idea, get permission to investigate a problem. Having buy-in that an issue exists is a step towards accepting a solution is needed. And involve her in the process of coming up with a decision. You’ll not only get higher engagement, but you’ll also be instilling her with a sense of ownership that will make it more likely she’ll push the idea through for you.

Strong Presentations

If you’ve got an idea to sell, sooner or later you’re going to have to present that to someone. A weak presentation can kill even the best idea. Are you boring your audience to death with endless, wordy PowerPoint slides? Or do your presentations jump off the screen and make people take notice? This article provides some specific tips for making your presentations stronger.

Charts and Graphs

Research has shown that the use of graphs, simple or complex, increases the level of persuasiveness of the claims that accompany them. The information may be the same, but we’re wired to put more trust in an assertion that has a graph to back it up. So, present at least some of the data backing up your idea in graphical format.

Analytics and the Skill of Influencing

If you are making charts, ensure you have good data to put into them. In our November 24 MiChat with Jennifer McClure on Evolving HR, she suggested HR professionals can become more of an influential force in their workplace, and become a more trusted advisor, by using analytics to their advantage. Through the right analytics and the right methodology, HR professionals can make predictions that the c-suite can trust. In addition, Jennifer advises HR professionals to be not only a confidant for company members, but to also speak up if they don’t fully agree with an idea or business decision. While this isn’t exactly an explicit way to sell an idea, it builds trust and credibility in HR’s professional knowledge and abilities, which then can make the c-suite pay more attention.

The most important thing to remember is that getting executive support for an idea is as much, or more, about how you sell that idea as it is about the merits of the idea itself. Think about that the next time you’re thinking of pitching a new project to your boss.

What Do You Do To Get Buy-In for Your Ideas?


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