Have you ever struggled to get a 'yes' to your proposal from your boss (or anyone else for that matter)?
I have. It's hard to persuade someone else to do what you want or to agree to the approach you are proposing so that you can execute.
The more you move up in a company and the bigger the company becomes (i.e. a corporation), the more important it becomes to build a business case and present it in front of the right person in the right way in order to get out what you want for your next steps. It's the same if you work in an agency and need your client's buy-in.
I spend a lot of my time at my job doing exactly that. I wouldn't say I've mastered this but I've certainly learned a few things.
And as always, I learn by reading, listening to videos and of course, by doing.
Today, I want to share with you the key learnings from a video and a slideshare that I came across on executive presentations that get you an executive 'yes'. In addition, I'll share some of my own experience too.
What's important to mention before I get into some tips is that you need to treat internal stakeholders just as you wound customers – study them with the same level of fascination, research them, create a persona for them, know how they like to communicate and be communicated at as well as how they make decisions.
When I started my current job, I met with about 30 leaders across the company to get to know them. I asked them about their priorities, their biggest challenges at the moment, how they like to communicate and make decisions. I've noted all of this in a Google sheet and still revert back to it. I now have a different approach for each leader based on their own preferences that I've learned about.
Before you get to your presentation in front of an exec, you need to ensure that you make it an intentional meeting face to face rather than just in your 1:1. That way, the meeting has a specific goal and agenda to go through.
Finally, remember that with great persuasion comes great responsibility so you need to be prepared to make your solution happen. That's what your execs will be expecting out of you once they say 'yes'.
The 3 Key Tips of Executive Presentations that Get You an Executive 'Yes'
# 1. Turn what you want into what they want
Whatever you are pitching, give three possible solutions not just one to the problem. This shows that you’ve done your homework. After that, explain how two of those would not work and recommend the one you have picked (i.e. the one you want). The way to do is by tying your solution and its impact back to the goals of the company and what execs want as well as what's stopping you from getting there right now. You want to show the data behind the reasoning of your idea and tell a story that they can aspire to as well.
# 2. Focus on value not cost
Your boss may say "Love the idea, but we don't have the budget now, let's do it in two years." At this stage, you need to move their thinking to "Let's do it right now." You have to build urgency. You do that by focusing on the value and not the cost with prepared homework and background on how to execute and what the benefits would be of your solution right now and how it would impact the brand/company positively very quickly. You want to look for the big numbers in the company and once you find them, you need to figure out how to map your ask to those numbers.
# 3. Wherever possible, reallocate instead of request more
When there's really no budget or resources available, you want to make it easy for them, you want to show them that you've thought through everything, that you've done your homework. Basically, you need to say to them "No problem, I have already reallocated the money for it."
Some ideas on how to find the budget could include finding a software that some people in your company are using but not all and cancel it (for example, different teams are on different project management tools - consolidate into one and cancel the rest) or finding another department that might benefit from the same solution who might pitch in for the budget.
Below are the slideshare and the video. Granted, this may not the best speech or presentation ever but there are some good tips and a nice methodology explained in it that you can easily try for yourself.
How do you get an executive 'yes'?