Five Tips for Selling Your Executive Team on Crowdsourcing’s Value

Get everyone on board with crowdsourcing.

Why do companies resist crowdsourcing? It’s a tough question, and if you’re looking to boost crowdsourcing as a solution, it can seem a tough obstacle to overcome. The trick, however, is knowing why there’s resistance and having a good explanation for it. Here are five common objections to crowdsourcing from the executive suite, and how to respond to them and get your crowdsourcing started.

Lay Out A Clear, Sensible Path

By far the biggest obstacle crowdsourcing faces is that for many companies, it’s unexplored turf. The best way to push back is to point out bold moves that worked internally before and to present similar success stories from your industry. If your competitors are working on crowdsourcing, point that out as well; a thoughtful approach is better than ignoring something, after all.

Know Your Crowd

Another objection is that many companies are simply so narrowly focused that crowdsourcing is pointless. In this case, it’s worth counteracting that you’ll largely find an audience among people already interested in your industry, such as your customers, and they’ll already know your products and industry inside and out. Besides, crowdsourcing is built on the idea that we can easily see the trees — so what about the forest? Outside opinions can help refine even the most specialized industries, and a small, focused crowd is more manageable. If anything, being specialized is a benefit.

Start Internally

A common objection is that outsiders shouldn’t be looking at sensitive company data, so start with internal crowdsourcing. Even small companies should regularly be asking employees for ideas: After all, they’re in the industry, and nobody understands your company better than the people who work there. Crowdsourcing doesn’t have to be external at first, and trying it internally will help you refine your process and address any objections the executive suite might have.

Crowdsourcing pays big dividends if everyone signs off.

Know The Law

To be fair, it’s reasonable to ask what the legal repercussions are of having outsiders refine your product, and there are risks. However, those risks are easy to compensate for if you know they’re on the table, and you can respond by offering to keep it relatively small, with just a few hundred participants and a narrow focus. That will limit legal liability and offer a good internal test case, and you can build from there.

Have A Benefit For The Crowd

What’s in it for the crowd? This is another question worth asking, and that you’ll need an answer for. Crowdsourcing campaigns only work when there’s benefit for both the company doing the crowdsourcing and the crowd itself. LEGO, for example, crowdsources ideas for new designs from its fans, but for fans, the benefit is that they get to tell the company exactly what they want out of the product they love. When you’re asked what the benefit would be for the crowd, have an answer ready, and be ready to talk about it.

The key with internal resistance is to have a clear response to objections and realize this will be a marathon, not a sprint. Crowdsourcing can be a difficult concept to wrap your mind around, but the rewards are worth it. If you’d like more ways to make your case, get the Innovation Starter Kit.

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