Selling innovation should be easy but selling innovation is hard.

The product experts have created the next breakthrough. Or maybe the services team has developed a new approach to customer service and maintenance. It is handed off to the sales team and the breakthrough or new approach will sell itself when presented to customers and prospects. If innovation sells itself, why are there so many stories of innovation failures?

Entering the Shark Tank

One of my favorite shows on TV right now is Shark Tank. For those unfamiliar with the show, Shark Tank is a reality competition TV series that features a panel of five potential investors, called “sharks”, who consider offers from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking investments for their innovative business, product, or service. In order to succeed as a contestant, the entrepreneur must come to agreement with at least one of the five sharks on an offer to invest. In an article I found on, nearly 50% of contestants are “successful” on the show. This number plays right into our assumption that selling something innovative is easy! If one out of every two entrepreneurs is striking up an investment deal, then selling innovation must be easy.

Now imagine that your sales team is a contestant on shark tank to sell your company’s innovation. Their goal is a little different. Their goal isn’t to get just one offer, but an offer that has buy-in from all five sharks. This is obviously much more difficult and the reality when it comes to selling innovation to companies both small and large. Companies seeking to sell innovation need to think of their sales force in terms of the contestants entering the shark tank. Like the entrepreneurs on the show, the stakes are high, the audience is skeptical, tough questions will be asked and the focus is on the return.

The 7 Deadly Sins

When selling innovation, there are seven deadly sins, each of which will impede your sales team from successfully selling an innovation. The first of these sins is that your sales people don’t understand what innovation is. At SOAR we define innovation as a new way of doing business that offers sustainable value for the customer. In an organization, there are various forms of innovation. Products, services, company structures and ways of engaging customers can all be innovative. An innovation does not have to be unique to the world, but must be new to those interacting with it and those affected by it. In other words, it must be new to the organization or industry to be considered innovative. So selling innovation is taking what you already have and applying it to your customer’s business in a way that allows them to do something new and valuable.

Selling innovation should be easy, but it isn’t; especially if you commit even a single of the 7 deadly sins.

See the other posts in the series for more about selling innovation and the 7 deadly sins:



Why Selling Innovation Is Hard When It Should Be Easy (or Easier)