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Selling Innovation

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Professionally Oriented Graduate Program

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.994.1 - 7.994.9



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Paper Authors

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Ronald Bennett

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Session 2155

Selling Innovation

Ronald J. Bennett, Ph.D.

Engineering and Technology Management University of St. Thomas St. Paul, Minnesota


We provide a practical, values-based learning experience that produces well-rounded, entrepreneurial engineers and technology leaders who have the technical skills, passion and courage to make a difference.


As a fresh PhD in engineering at my first full-time job in industry I developed a new approach to a current problem. When I presented it to management, the President said “Great idea – now go sell it.” I didn’t know what he meant. Wasn’t the value of the idea intuitively obvious? Why should it need to be sold? And to whom?

Later, as manager of a national sales force, it became clear to me why technical professionals must learn to sell their ideas to the professional managers running their organizations (Gaines). Over time, experience has shown that the ability to sell ideas is the critical factor in enabling technical people, indeed anyone, to “make a difference.”

The management of technology requires innovation. Innovation involves new ideas and requires change. Centuries ago Machiavelli in The Prince warned of the danger of trying to initiate change. It is universally recognized that change meets resistance, for it upsets the order of things, and creates uncertainty. But change is happening, whether we like it or not. Change is a reality – it is how we respond to it and manage it that matters (Lever).

Change is risky. But failure to change can be more risky. As noted by Richardson, “our major problems are within our walls, not over in our competitors’ buildings.” Complacency breeds competitive disadvantage (Lever). It takes a leader with knowledge of the selling process – change management – to build support for change. The knowledge and skills to effectively sell are available to virtually all companies, yet they seldom are implemented among the technical professionals and used to more effectively gain acceptance of new technolog ies internally. In fact, the use of effective internal selling in technology management may just be the key to changing the basis of competition in an industry.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002,American Society for Engineering Education

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Bennett, R. (2002, June), Selling Innovation Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10988

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