Developing an effective risk management or business continuity strategy is vital to your business, but not everybody is going to see it that way. At some point in the process, you’ll probably need to pitch your solution to your boss and senior management. While many people might get nervous about having to pitch key decision makers in their organization, it’s a great opportunity to prove your value and make yourself more visible to them. All you have to do is wow them with a killer proposal.
To help you out, here are six important tips to making your business case to senior management:
1. Make a Strong Business Case
Senior management has a lot on their plate, so you need to make your proposal as strong as possible. If you come to them with a half-baked idea it’s going to be much easier to shoot down. Instead, take the time to put together a fully-formed pitch before ever going to them. Brainstorm their most likely objections (costs too much, will be too hard to implement, isn’t a high enough priority), and prepare answers for them ahead of time.
The more groundwork you do, the harder you’ll make it for senior management to say no.
2. Tie Your Proposal to Overall Strategic Objectives
Senior management might balk about making an investment of their time and money on something that’s only going to benefit a single department. You need to find a way to tie your business case into multiple departments and your company’s overall strategic objectives. If you can prove that your proposal is going to benefit the entire organization, you’ll have a much better chance of having senior management’s ear.
3. Find Evidence to Back Everything Up
Senior management responds to one thing above everything else – hard numbers. If you want to convince them that your proposal is going to offer value, you need information to back your claims. At a minimum, you should have the following information handy:
- A complete budget for your proposal.
- A detailed examination of the benefits you expect to come from your proposal, with realistic dollar values assigned to each benefit. For example, if something will save employees 5 hours a week, figure out exactly how much their time is worth.
- White papers or case studies of other similar businesses who have implemented your solution and had success.
Providing these figures and examples allows senior management to take your proposal at face value. It’s hard for somebody who puts an idea together to be objective about it, so information is a critical piece of your pitch.
4. Don’t Make the Pitch Alone
One way to strengthen your proposal is by finding other people to help you pitch it. If your idea ties to the company’s overall strategic objectives, you should be able to find people from other departments who may also benefit from it. By taking the reigns of an impromptu multi-department task force, you’ll strengthen your proposal and also prove yourself as a natural leader to senior management.
If you can get an existing member of the senior management team on board early in the process, you’ll have a much better chance of success. Consider the people you need to impress and think about if there’s a particular manager who would be particularly interested in your proposal. Approach them ahead of time to see if you can garner their support. If the message is coming from one of the senior manager’s peers, they’ll listen much closer.
5. Put Them in a Customer’s Shoes
If it makes sense, you should consider talking to some of your key customers that you think would benefit the most from your proposal. You’ll be able to prove the value of your idea by being able to say something along the lines of “Joe from XYZ Company has been having this problem, which my solution would solve. We spoke briefly about my proposed solution, and he estimates it would help him solve his problems and encourage him to spend more money with our company.”.
If you aren’t comfortable doing so, you don’t need to survey specific customers. You could simply estimate how many customers would have an improved experience based on your proposal, and how that translates to more revenue.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
The worst thing you can do when you’re bringing a proposal to senior management is hamstringing it before it’s ever been given a chance. Wild successes don’t come from neutered, safe options. They come from truly innovative, risky ideas. Don’t be afraid to pitch something truly revolutionary to senior management. If you have solid reasoning and evidence to back it up, you’ll end up impressing the room whether they buy into your pitch or not.
At worst, swinging for the fences gives you the chance to negotiate your solution down a bit, if necessary. Pitching a tame solution and getting shot down leaves you with nowhere else to go.
Can we help you?
In many cases, we’ve argued successfully on behalf of our clients with their senior management in order to obtain resources, approval for strategies or new programs, or just to provide an executive overview of a global risk, crisis management, or business continuity program.