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The Ultimate Guide to Selling to Your Boss

“We need to buy this product because….”

We’ve all started out a conversation with our boss this way. You’ve found the best solution to fix whatever problem you’re facing, but your boss, the C-suite, doesn’t see this solution the solution in the same light.

“Where’s the benefit?”, they say. You’re stopped dead in your tracks, unable to understand why your boss doesn’t see how great this will be for the company.

“How could they not see how much this solution will add?”, you think to yourself.

We get it. We’ve all been there at some point in our careers, trying to “sell” the thing we believe in. You know it’s a slam dunk, a sure-fire way to improve that problem, and then some, but can’t figure out why your boss doesn’t agree.

Maybe, he or she is ignoring you, not getting back to you with a decision as quickly as you’d like. Or, maybe, they’ve flat out said no.

But, the thing to consider is, are you giving your boss or the C-suite the right message in the first place? Are you really selling that product?

The answer is, probably not.

However, there is a guaranteed plan of action you can take to obtain approval and get everyone, your team, your boss, the C-suite, onboard, and quick so you can start improving.

There are 4 steps of action you need to efficiently build-out prior to that discussion:

1. Is there a need?
2. What are the commitments?
3. Who owns it?
4. What’s the ROI?

If you tell your boss (in order to sell the solution), you can get a 300% return on investment because downtime on the floor will be reduced by 10 minutes per day, you need to explain the steps it takes to do that and why it’s effective. You can’t just throw a number out without having the data to back it up.

Is There a Need?

First things first, what is the problem you’re facing? Increased downtime wreaking havoc on meeting demand? Faced with significant quality issues? Not producing to schedule? Cycle time too long?

Whatever the problem, you know it needs to be fixed, quickly. There is a perfect solution that will solve the need, that’s step 1.

But, you can’t just tell your boss you need it. You have to build your case, dive deep into the reasons why, the real need for such a solution. So, you start to ask questions, talk to your team, discuss with other departments, the issues you’re all facing, and realize you’re not alone in this particular problem.

You have all of this downtime causing significant delays and problems on the floor, you recognize the issue.

You, maintenance, operators, you’re all aware there is a problem, but everyone will have a different opinion for what is causing that problem. In order to determine the cause, you need to collect the data, and that can only be done with manufacturing analytics. So, this knowledge alone illustrates the need for the solution – diving deep into a problem to figure out the cause.

But, how will a solution like Mingo Manufacturing Analytics help solve that problem?

Will it monitor the 18 production lines to figure out the cause of downtime?

And if it does, how will getting to the root of the problem help you, and more importantly the company? Well, it’s likely that if downtime is causing significant problems for you, it is likely also causing problems for other teams. Is maintenance’s workload increasing because they’re being called out to fix a supposed problem? Is the back office frustrated because the downtime problems are causing significant increases in costs and delays in meeting demand?

When you begin talking with other people throughout the company, you realize it’s a problem for many, and all of those people want to figure out how to fix it, further making your “sell” of the solution more valuable because it touches so many different departments.

If you can successfully present the need for the solution, and not just for yourself, it will be more likely to be approved. Yes, the cost is an important factor, but if a product solves a pain point the company is facing, your boss will figure out a way to afford it. (Of course, there are exceptions, but we’ll discuss how to prove ROI in a later section.)

What are the Commitments?

You’ve found the solution, great. You know it will solve a problem that will inevitably improve performance, wonderful. But, is this solution a one-time deal? Will the company be investing in a solution that only solves one problem or will it continually solve problems, one after another?

It’s an important question.

If a solution will continue to solve problems, it will prove to be valuable time and time again.

Financial commitments are also very important at this stage in the conversation. What kind of contract needs to be signed, if one at all? Will that contract require a specific time commitment? Is a large investment needed upfront?

Then, think about the product’s lifecycle. How long will it take to “come to life” or in other words, how long will it take to reap the benefits of the investment? In a sense, this refers to how long it takes to realize the full potential, not only financially, but for the problems, it promises to solve.

Simply, what is the total cost of ownership?

Understanding and explaining, in explicit detail, the commitments required will increase your chances of “selling” it to your boss.

Who Owns It?

This is an important piece of the puzzle that many forget about. Yes, you’ve found a solution and know it’s going to be a great addition to the company, but once it’s approved, who owns it? Who is going to carry out communication with the provider, ensure it gets implemented, all of the key players and users are trained, and monitor the day to day progress?

If the head of maintenance already has too much work on their plate, who owns the project? Would that role fall to you, the operations manager? Is it IT? Is it the CEO?

This may be on the harder questions to answer during the initial conversation because it’s not just your project. It’s not just maintenance or a plant supervisor thing. This is a project that requires input from all different teams. Is everyone on board and willing to contribute at different stages, while one “owner” oversees the project?

Know this ahead of time. Know why this person or persons are the best for the job. Know how that individual(s) will ensure success from beginning to end.

What’s the ROI?

And finally, the nail in the coffin, the piece of the puzzle that will ensure your project gets approved with flying colors: return on investment (ROI).

Proving the ROI of a solution may be the single most important factor during this conversation. If you can answer, “What’s the ROI based on solving the need?”, you’ll set yourself up for success and be on your way to getting visibility into the plant, quickly.

First, determine how long it will take to see results once the solution is implemented. 1 week? 30 days? 60 days? 1 year?

For manufacturing analytics, we’ve found manufacturers see results in as little as 30 days. Given that timeline and the number of machines you’re tracking, you can easily calculate the payback period giving you ROI.

Click here for a simple, straightforward ROI calculation.

Remember, ROI is not only the financial incentive in implementing manufacturing analytics. There are key benefits that are a direct result of:

• Stopping problems as they happen
• Winning the day with accountability
• Using data to drive decisions rather than based on gut feeling
• Eliminating manual reporting
• Gathering data from any device, anywhere
• Flexibility to customize

The value of each one of those contributes to the greater value of the solution.

Convince Your Boss with Fact and Emotion

The biggest hurdle you’ll face going into these types of conversations is building a case for why your boss, and the company, need this solution.

Having the answers to these questions is meaningful and of vast importance, but don’t forget the basics of sales 101: emotion sells. The solution you’re “selling” without a doubt solves a problem for you, but does it also solve a problem your boss cares about?

At the beginning of any sales or business course, a professor will teach the students that people buy on emotion and pain, a need to fix whatever problem they’re having, whether that be emotional or economic. If you apply that thinking to your own appeal, you will “sell” the product to your team, your boss, and the C-suite.

But it goes without saying that if you go in unprepared, you’re going to get told no.

You’re presenting a solution that needs to have the support of the guys on the floor, maintenance, and the C-suite, and in order to do that successfully, you need to have the data for why this solution to all of your problems. You get one shot, don’t waste it by being unprepared.

Use this article as a guide in organizing your key points. Don’t tell, appeal to emotions, and show how this solution will be a great asset to the company.

You did the demo of the product and know all of the details, but the CEO didn’t. To him or her, it’s just another product. How do you differentiate the solution you chose from all of the others? You have to show him why it’s different and why it will be important to the company.

In the end, you’re the one selecting a solution to solve the problems you face on the floor daily, but the CEO or COO has the final say and holds the power in moving it forward. They are the end of the chain of command and need to know the costs, but more importantly, they need to know the return on investment and how that is accomplished.

How will it help? How is it beneficial? How will it create more opportunities, not only for your particular project but for the success of the company?

And if you go in there with all of the answers to these questions, the likelihood of getting a yes is much, much higher.

Picture of Bryan Sapot
Bryan Sapot
Bryan Sapot is a lifelong entrepreneur, speaker, CEO, and founder of Mingo. With more than 24 years of experience in manufacturing technology, Bryan is known for his deep manufacturing industry insights. Throughout his career, he’s built products and started companies that leveraged technology to solve problems to make the lives of manufacturers easier. Follow Bryan on LinkedIn here.