The first step in asking is always the hardest. You are about to start your new project and you have to make your case. You’re nervous that your budget baby may never see the light of day. You know your plan is a good one, you can see the benefits it will bring to the company, you are sure it will drive the company towards its goals.
But can you convince the people in the meeting room to approve those funds?
Many business cases are blocked because the relevant parties presenting the plan have failed to consider the most important elements while presenting a case to stakeholders. Being able to clearly communicate the benefits of your plan to decision makers is an art, and there is a lot to consider. So here are 9 ways to get your budget over the line:
Ensure Your Idea Is Linked To The Company’s Goals
It is all too easy to lose sight of what is of primary concern to the company when pitching your vision. Don’t get too carried away in all the myriad of ways your project is exciting. Less about the bells and whistles and more about how this will directly benefit the company. According to a survey by McKinsey, only 28% of executives thought their company made good strategic decisions. So remember where the business wants to go and plainly spell out how you can help your company achieve these goals.
Be Clear On Why This Is A ‘Need’ Not Just A ‘Want’
Your case needs a reason and this reason justifies your case. Why is your budget needed? How will your budget address these needs? Spelling out how business needs are to be met will show stakeholders you are in tune with their concerns and speaking their language.
What Does Everyone Stand To Gain (Not Just You Or Your Department)
Everyone is different, different departments have different concerns. In order to bring all stakeholders onside early, convey a benefit that will be of interest to all. Consider how each stakeholder can benefit from your plan. In order to do this don’t limit your imagination in terms of how your vision will benefit the company. Not all benefits can be easily quantified in terms of direct revenue. For instance the benefits of employee retention, engagement, good company culture and recognition all lead to increased productivity.
Make It Clear What’s At Stake
Fear of loss. It’s a powerful selling strategy and one seasoned sales-people frequently rely on. It elicits a strong physiological response. Make plain the ramifications if your budget isn’t improved and the impact this will have. Nothing burns quite like a missed opportunity, so cite the instances where your company missed out and point to any competitors who exploited their opportunities.
Get Backing & Insights From The Wider Team To Support Your Claim
Dialoguing with frontline staff is always beneficial because often they will bring things to your attention that you may not have been aware of. It is likely they have a better understanding of many everyday problems facing the company than you do and research shows that diversity leads to better decision making. Value their feedback and consult with them about changes that may be made to their work detail, and you are likely to gain their support. Show stakeholders that the frontline staff are onboard and you have a powerful argument. Conversely if you leave them out of the conversation your project may appear to not have proper consultation or support and could end up being scuppered.
Make Sure The Numbers Add Up
Going into that meeting room without solid analytics is akin to walking into the lion’s den in a dress made out of meat. It can leave your reputation in tatters and your case chewed out. Show stakeholders your projections and solutions are backed up by quantifiable data. Show you have considered viable alternatives and lay out the numbers in detail. Nothing makes you look more like a serious person than serious maths and according to research from Cognopia, businesses and individuals that make company decisions based on data are 19 times more likely to be profitable.
Explore All Avenues & Alternatives
You need to justify why you came up with your recommendations. Have you investigated all the alternatives? Consider these approaches, then think about why and how your plan is the best plan. And then pick apart the alternatives. Do this, and when challenged during your case, you can swat any arguments aside.
Give Yourself A Reality Check
Your goals must be grounded in a reality otherwise your case won’t be taken seriously. Show a clear route to your goals with milestones framed in realistic timelines backed by solid data. Demonstrate to stakeholders the tangibility of your vision.
Keep It Clear & Simple
Don’t bombard the audience with jargon that may come naturally to you. You are probably a specialist in your department, and it is easy to throw acronyms and particular terminology around thoughtlessly. But it is probable the decision makers you are pitching to don’t know as much about your department as you do and simply won’t get the lingo. Keep the language as simple as possible and present your case with as much clarity as you can.
The more you invest time in these investigations the stronger your case becomes. Keep these considerations in mind and they will guide you to a deeply compelling argument that ensures your project and needs have the funding they require.