One of our favorite subjects covered in our sales training courses is what we refer to as the unsolicited idea. Essentially, this is a helpful suggestion offered to your clients at the end of a meeting that is unrelated to your product or service recommendation. It’s a great differentiator and relationship-builder and can make a world of difference in closing the sale.
But unsolicited ideas have another application – an internal application. After all, internal meetings are where key issues are discussed, questions are asked, and solutions are found. Problem solving tools like the unsolicited idea can help us overcome any hurdles in the process and find the solution quickly. With that in mind, read below for some thoughts on applying the unsolicited idea to your internal meetings:
Wait until later– Offer unsolicited ideas at the end of your internal meetings so that they don’t detract from the agenda. We suggest that your idea focus on something of interest to the participants —whether it’s business or personal.
Get permission first– One of the tenets associated with offering unsolicited ideas is getting permission first. Remember, nobody asked for your idea – you are offering it on your own volition. Not everybody appreciates ideas that they didn’t request. “Who asked you?” could be what they are thinking.
So whenever you offer these kinds of ideas, set the stage first, just as you would with a client: “Andrew, I have been thinking about the morale issue you discussed at our last meeting. You were concerned about its impact on productivity. If you are interested, I have an idea for you…”
Reach out to other functions– We often bring non-sales resources to sales calls to share their expert knowledge and perspectives with clients. Similarly, on the internal side, don’t inhibit yourself by only offering unsolicited ideas to other client-facing professionals. You can help many other functions, whether it is Marketing, Operations, Compliance, Legal, IT, Product Management, etc. If you have an idea for someone, we believe that you do the person a disservice if you don’t offer it.
Just be sure to set the stage and ask for permission first – it could change how the person reacts:
“Collette, I know that this is your area of expertise, not mine. But I have been thinking about this challenge for the last few weeks and would like to suggest an approach you might consider. Is that OK?”
Collaboration is all about working together. Offering new ideas, even when they aren’t solicited is something that will contribute to our making this happen.
Have you ever offered an unsolicited idea in an internal meeting that led to a solution? Tell us about it in a comment.