Selling YOUR Innovation

by Ken Smith

Selling YOUR Innovation

What would your start-up do without sales?

The most important measure of a successful commercial innovation is revenue traction. Operation’s requires it and VCs & Angels often demand it before engaging. Yet many innovators’ efforts end at the point of marketing. Completing the revenue capture process with a solid sales strategy is essential.

Perhaps Steve Jobs’ greatest gift was his understanding of the entire innovation life cycle, including the sales process.

He could envision products that consumers didn’t even know they needed to love. He was also a consummate and celebrated salesman – and knew the importance of that role. Success in the innovation economy requires an ability to execute at every stage of the entire lifecycle and adapt to changes in how companies and consumer buy products.

A recent Corporate Education Board study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that these buyers completed nearly 60% of the purchasing decision – researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, etc. – before even having a conversation with a supplier. In the enterprise marketplace, traditional media/marketing and solution selling have already given way to in-bound marketing and insight selling, strategies that demand new skills, tools, and techniques.

In the consumer market the sales process has also changed profoundly. Pew Research reported that in December 2011, nearly 50% of consumers used their smart phones while standing in a retail store to compare prices, research competitors, and find bargains and coupons to save money in real-time. It is estimated that this simple shift in consumer behavior influenced more than US$162 billion in retail sales for that month alone.

Selling Innovation successfully requires careful market and customer research, thoughtful product design, dynamically integrated methods and messages, and effective integrated tool-set. Selling Innovation also means the new tools and techniques for selling traditional products and services in innovative ways.

Discuss on InnoChat: January 30, 2014

After each section of Selling Innovation is posted, Innovation Excellence will be hosting an InnoChat session live on Twitter. In a new format, innovation, start-up and content experts will moderate a question & answer session from readers. Please log onto your own Twitter account, Follow Innovation Excellence @IXChat, and include the following hashtags in your tweet:  #InnoChat   |  #sellinginno

Editor’s note: In this 8-part series, we’ll be serializing Ken’s ‘actionable’ resource guidebook Selling Innovation; beginning with today’s intro, chapters 1-6 (The Spark, The Path, The Pitch, The Close, The Repeat, The Data) and concluding with the Start-up Checklist.

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Selling YOUR Innovation Ken Smith, Business Plan Reviewer and Start-up Coach for Springboard Enterprises, served as Co-chair of CEO Service Committee for the MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge; and is the author of the start-up resource guidebook Selling Innovation. Join the online discussion.


  1. Hi:

    I full concur, “The most important measure of a successful commercial innovation is revenue traction.”

    Ca$h is King!

    Innovation is precisely moving from ideas to ca$h!

  2. Hi Ken: – good points here.

    What audiences will the series address selling to?

  3. Innovation always suiting the native way and selling never the primitive way.

  4. Nice article and agree that …. You need to innovate products that end users need to Love. One use and you’re hooked is the best way to create value.

  5. Nice article indeed. I look forward to the continuing sessions.

  6. To understand more insights of Steve Jobs Agenda, I suggest to download my book “Steve Jobs Agenda”, available in English and German as well at Apples iBook Store for your iPad/iPhone for free. Almost more than 250.000 reader loved to get more information about Apples DNA. Wich you a nice reading time.

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