You packed your training program with great content, and it is getting rave reviews with beta testers. Now you need buy-in from the executive level for their feedback and input for a full rollout. Consider these tips for getting the C-suite engaged.
1. Include Them in the Assessment Phase
You'll get a better response when it comes time for final approval on a training project if you've included C-suite decision-makers in the needs assessment period. Get their input early so they feel part ownership.
2. Bring in an Expert
Often a third-party voice will give you credibility and support you could not otherwise gain inside your organization. Further, a recognized industry authority lends gravitas and weight to your claims.
3. Customize Your Pitch
Research the decision-makers in your company to determine how to shape the pitch to their interests. For example, think of the contestants on ABC's "Shark Tank," and consider how they adapt their presentations to the personalities on the panel. The smart presenters use different appeals for each "Shark."
4. Provide Context
You'll get greater buy-in if you can tie your proposal to a greater mission. Show how your program will help company leaders achieve a strategic goal. Lay out the benefits clearly, and show how they directly affect the bottom line.
5. Improve Your Timing
Things are constantly shifting and changing within organizations. You'll have greater success with your pitch if you stay aware of the ebb and flow of political, financial and strategic changes. Bring your ideas forward at a time that gives you the best chance to be heard and not get lost among other worthwhile projects.
6. Energize Your Supporters
The lone hero is a movie staple, but you'll have more success selling your training program across the company if you encourage your supporters, giving them the tools and information they need to support your cause and sell your efforts in their circles of influence.
7. Have a Plan B
Organizational communication and collaboration is a system of give-and-take. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, have alternative plans ready to present should your initial big idea get shot down. Having a backup plan shows you are thorough and dedicated to making the project a success.
8. Know What They Want
Tie your proposal to things executives already want. One thing all executives are short on is time. Be able to succinctly show how your training program saves the company money or improves profits. Familiarize yourself with company directives and strategic goals, and demonstrate how your ideas help reach them.
9. Manage Dissenters
Plan to answer objections by naysayers and dissenters. However, before launching into your explanation, make sure you acknowledge that you understand their objection and appreciate them for bringing it up. Managing the emotions of different factions in the room is just as important as presenting a logical case.
10. Practice Makes Profitable
Even skilled presenters make it a habit to practice any pitch or presentation many times before the actual event. It's surprising how easy it is to lose focus when an entire room of high-powered decision-makers have their eyes trained directly on you, waiting for your ideas. Diligent practice will keep your nerves at bay and get your butterflies flying in formation.
You've done the arduous work to put together a training program that is sound, well-structured and provides immediate benefits to trainees. But getting the funding, approval and support of executives in your organization is a critical step to getting your program off the ground successfully. Use these tips to improve your strategy for successful executive buy-in.