Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Idea Salesman

A recent issue of Knowledge@Wharton had a review of The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas by Wharton professors Richard Shell and Mario Moussa. The authors describe a simple 4-step approach to selling your ideas – 1.Survey the situation, 2.Confront Barriers, 3.Make your Pitch, 4.Follow-up on Commitments.

What attracted my attention and helped me relate to what the authors had to say was that these four steps are not very different from another (almost) 4-step process that I use everyday, the Software Development Lifecycle – Analyze, Design, Implement, and Maintain. The similarity seems to point to the possibility that, like building complex software, idea-selling or influence is an art that can be mastered by following a simple process.

The study, think, act, follow-up process is one of those abstract universal patterns. You can use this process to achieve just about any goal, provided you know the specifics of the particular goal that you wish to achieve. ‘The Art of Woo’ seems to get right to the specifics – the 6 channels, 5 barriers, 4 styles, 3 mistakes.

The first chapter of the book is available online. I'll have to wait till the next purchase cycle at the library to get a hardcopy though. Meanwhile, I came across this BW article - The Art of the Ask - that deals with the closely related topic of how to get people to put their money into your idea.

PS,Further reading:
Seven Hints for Selling Ideas

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