Proposing Solutions? Learn What Executives Want to Hear

 

As budget cuts and time constraints become the norm, it becomes more difficult to get new recommendations approved. Chances are you’ll have to pitch your recommendation to someone who is pinching pennies. Or even worse, to an executive who has his or her mind already set on a solution that will not work for your team. Could there be a tougher crowd?

 

In situations like this, you know that you’re under the gun. You need to be clear, concise and make a compelling point that is difficult to deny. How do you do that effectively? And how do you accomplish your goals in the short timeframe you’ve been given to make your presentation? The first step is to think like an executive. What do they need to know? What’s in it for them and the company? The following four tips will get you on track to thinking the way they do. Prioritize your information using these tips and you will be well on your way to the approval you deserve.

 

1. Think about how to reduce costs and increase profitability.

The No. 1 thing executives and managers are charged with today is doing more with less. It is crucial that you put your idea, recommendation or solution in terms that will meet this goal. If you can tell an executive how your idea will either save them money or increase profitability, you will be well on your way to getting the idea approved. If you cannot provide this information, your idea may be shot down before your limited timeframe to present is even up.

 

2. Think about short and long term results.

We all know executives are busy. They have a lot of tough choices to make and are pressured from various stakeholders. As a presenter, it is your job to make their life easier. Give them information that will make it obvious what choice they should make regarding your solution or recommendation. You can help do the thinking for them by explaining the short term and long term impact of your recommendation. There might be short term costs but long term profitability involved. Don’t leave it up to them to figure that out. You have to spell it out in a way that is easy for them to quickly follow.

 

3. Think about where the resources are going to come from (people or finances).

Your recommendation will likely require an initial investment. Even if there are long term gains, you still need to address where this initial investment, whether it be manpower or finances, will come from. You should provide two or more clear suggestions regarding staff and fund allocations. This shows that you have fully thought your proposal through and are aware of the investment required. Most importantly it takes the guess work out of it for the executive.

 

4. Think outside the box.

You may be addressing a problem that had been around for years and the status quo is no longer efficient. Ask yourself, “How can we do it differently?” To stand out from other managers, you will want to consider how you can do something in a more productive, efficient way. Be creative. Executives like to see that someone is coming up with new ideas. Even though the bottom line (cutting costs and increasing profitability) is important, executives also want to know that you can solve problems differently than in the past.

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