Tell Me a Time That You Had To Sell an Idea to Senior Management

Tell Me a Time That You Had To Sell an Idea to Senior Management

Do you remember when you wanted to sell an idea to your superiors at work? No matter the outcome, you might need to talk about it one day – with an interviewer. It can be intimidating and scary to talk about this experience especially if it was not well-received. For interviewers, questions like these give them a deeper understanding of who they want to hire. Although this question is tricky, you can use it to your advantage if you give the right answer.

In this guide, we will reveal the steps to answering this question satisfactorily. Also, you will discover how you can sell yourself while answering this interview question.

Why Interviewers Ask This Question

There is more to this question than meets the eye. As simple as this question might sound, it has a deeper meaning. Here are some of the reasons why you might be asked this question in an interview.

To Test Your Persuasive Ability

Selling is never easy, especially an idea. It takes a combination of resilience, skill, and persuasive ability. If selling an idea to the average person is difficult, then it would be an uphill battle to sell an idea to senior management. It is because senior management of an organization consists of vastly experienced and knowledgeable people. Impressing them would take much planning and accurate execution. However, if you can manage to sell an idea that would please the management, it speaks volumes. Every employer would like to have someone of such ability join their organization. Your persuasive skills will come in handy when your prospective employer needs to convince clients of their own.

Know Your Problem-Solving Potential

Problem-solving is one of the most important soft skills for any professional to possess. It means that such employees would be able to get themselves and the company out of difficult situations. Also, they would be able to find quick solutions to problems. A candidate who has sold an idea to management at some point must have problem-solving potential. For senior management of an establishment to buy an idea, such an idea must be a needed solution to problems. Thus, answering this question will help the interviewer or potential employer discover your unique skill.

Your Ability to Take Risks

Forming an idea can seem interesting until it is time to pitch the idea. Presenting an idea can be risky for many reasons. Firstly, you may not know how successful the idea would be. Therefore, it would be difficult to give any guarantees to those you are trying to win over. Secondly, the idea might not make sense at first to the management even if it has potential. People are quick to judge ideas, hence debarring the concept from materializing. While some executives would be magnanimous no matter the outcome, others might discourage you. The risky part is that rejections can make you give up on the idea. Employers like to hire candidates who can take such risks in what they believe in.

Your Creative Potential

People pitch ideas every day. For senior executives, they get more idea pitches than anyone else. Thus, it would take something special for them to buy into your idea. This is why creativity is essential. Creativity is what sets your idea apart from countless others that get pitched every day. If the management buys into the idea, it shows that the concept has potential. Knowing this would impress any potential employer. Having creative people who can come up with irresistible ideas is a major advantage.

Research Skills and Due Diligence

Ideas that sell have to solve problems. To ensure that an idea ticks all the important boxes, there is a need to acquire adequate knowledge of it. It takes a high level of research skills to get the vital information necessary. This is interesting to potential employers because they value research skills.

Besides research skills, due diligence is part of being knowledgeable. Not only is learning about an idea essential but carrying out feasibility studies is as well. Therefore, an idea that sells would have passed this test and proven to be feasible. These attributes are important as they reveal more about your character without introducing yourself.

Your Knowledge of Business and Legal Etiquette

Pitching an idea is a business strategy. To be successful in business, there are some things you must know. The first thing to know is the market. You would need to know who else is doing something similar, what sells, and how to be unique in the industry. Also, go further to check the legal implication of implementing your idea. See if you can patent your idea. In a word, you should have a comprehensive plan to introduce to management. Approaching your brainchild like a real business is impressive and interviewers would be paying attention.

How to Answer the Interview Question

There are different stages of forming an idea. When answering this question, briefly share your experience thus:

The conceptualization

Every idea was conceived through unique circumstances. Start by mentioning how you formed the idea. Also, explain what triggered the concept and how it was relevant to the organization at the time. Interviewers know that the chances of you convincing management would be high if it is related to the organization’s areas of specialization. Also, if the idea would profit the organization, it would most likely sell. If the idea came from the need to solve problems in your industry, it would sell. Explain briefly how certain problems in the industry inspired you. If this is where your idea came from, you are getting close to winning over your interviewer.

How your skills and experience helped

When answering this question, see it as an opportunity to market your expertise. After mentioning how you formed the concept, speak on how your skills helped in the process. To actualize any valuable concept takes a combination of skills, research, and experience. Also, if you had done a similar project or executed a similar idea that worked, let the interviewer know. By acknowledging how your skills helped you shows that the idea was well thought. Furthermore, if the execution of the idea becomes successful, the processes would be easy to trace. When your skills help you achieve goals, it proves that the success was not a fluke.

How you prepared for the presentation

After making sure that executing the idea is feasible and profitable, you would move on to pitch the idea. No matter how excited you are by the prospects of the idea, you would have to prepare before pitching it. Selling an idea to friends and colleagues can be easy. It is a different ball game when you are trying to sell an idea to management. Some of these professionals may be hard to please while others would be objective. If you did some research on the members of the board, it would help. Through your investigation, you would have information on how best to approach management and what might appeal to them.

Tools you used

These days, technology is vital to the successful outcome of any plan or idea. While you may not need tools to brainstorm ideas, developing a concept would require some extra help. You might need to employ certain software programs in various aspects of developing the idea. While you develop the idea, also keep a record of the tools you used. If you had to purchase some equipment, make it known. Likewise, if you hired an expert to help you, mention it to the interviewer. Doing this proves that you can likely track the success of the endeavor even beyond the development phase. It fills prospective investors with confidence that your idea was well-planned.

The reception

After your presentation or idea pitch, your fate depends mostly on the board. Briefly, mention a few things about how the idea was received by management. In some cases, management may buy into an idea almost immediately. Alternatively, it could take a while to get a response. Whatever the case may be, share the reception of the idea with the interviewer. Even if the idea was not well-received, don’t be scared to mention it. There is always a lesson to learn in victory or defeat. If management disclosed reasons why they did not accept the idea, take the highlights and explain them to the interviewer.

How the idea has developed and its applications

After sharing the outcome of the idea pitch to management, don’t stop there. Speak briefly on how the idea is applied today. A successful idea would most likely be in use and developed to maximize profit for the organization or third parties. If the idea was approved by management, then it would likely be in use by your previous employers. On the other hand, if the idea was rejected, you could develop it further to meet the required standard. If you are still developing the idea, feel free to say so. It shows enormous potential and strength of character. Firstly, it proves that you don’t give up. Also, it shows that you are dedicated to what you believe in. Lastly, your willingness to improve and learn is portrayed in many ways by doing this.



Selling an idea to management is one of the most difficult and intimidating things you may ever do professionally. Your prospective employer might ask you how you dealt with the situation previously. The best approach is to recall vital moments of the process and explain them briefly. Make sure to highlight your strengths and skills in the process. Lastly, always be honest with your reply. Be proud to share even the smallest or most insignificant idea in your opinion. It counts.

Interview Questions

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