Picture the scene...
There are ten people in a boardroom. Only two of them support your ideas for X Y or Z. You are questioning whether you have done everything you could do to tip the scales in your favour. Twenty minutes through your presentation you can feel the thick air of the room weighing down on you. You’ve lost the attention of your audience. You can feel the “no” coming.
Unknowingly, you may have started your approach back to front.
This article describes key tips, tools and techniques designed specifically for you to get support for your project. We will frame this around a reuse program but it could be any project.
- How you can use psychology to think and pitch to the board
- 10 tips for getting senior backing for your project
- How to sell sustainability
Hint: There is also a great case study right here from Humberside NHS which demonstrates the power of getting senior commitment
What went wrong?
When introducing sustainable initiatives, it is natural to begin with the social and environmental benefits. Whilst this is commendable, it’s not the only way to sell your project or initiative.
Know your audience. By inviting you to pitch your ideas, the primary reason is not to do with how any trees might be saved….they want to know how well you can free up money from their budget so they can spend it elsewhere. Start right at the end, with the bottom line, for example: ‘Reuse practices will save you £000s each year, and all you have to do is tweak this disposal policy and implement these procurement actions’.
By driving with the financial perks first, you’re likely to prick the ears of the lead of the committee , the director or even Chief Financial Officer or equivalent, who has ultimate control of the purse strings. This is the person who has the authority to say yes or no to your project, and whilst you are talking, they will be running through a series of mental calculations, time frames and scenarios all of which add up to their final answer. Here’s how you get the yes...
Money is still the driving factor
It's amazing that sustainability projects- (where we are trying to actually save the world from collapse) still have to stand up financially and in mosty cases have to actually have to have a short pay back period after which the company saves! I have never ever heard a pitch for a Human Resources project which gave payback!
Sadly sustainability initiives set themselves up like this right at the start so we still need to make the financial case.
- Choose your language carefully. You should try as much as possible to translate your arguments into financial terms, that might be ‘future cost pressures’, ‘potential savings’ and ‘the size of a merging green market’. Try and keep it in that financial business type language.
We also have a great tip in the guide below on HOW to pitch the financial benefits- there's a right way and a wrong way. Download the guide at the end for the inside track.
Is money the only driving factor?
The UK wastes £170m worth of energy each year by leaving lights on in empty rooms and wastes £billions of food, so there’s some justification in saying that money is not the only force that inspires sustainability decision making. Sometimes, it comes down to politics, ideologies and mindset.
Not every country can use reuse and environmental performance to strongly influence board decisions, but generally it is an important factor. It creates a sense of pride or responsibility when people make an ethical choice.
We spoke to one of our recycling coordinator friends in the US. They run the reuse department on their own and admit that the biggest challenge is not creating the ideas, but presenting them in a successful way to senior management level. They claim that part of the ideology in their organization is that aesthetics are more of a priority.
“We have very expensive tastes. A very good example is, before I got here, they went out and they wanted to get recycling bins that match the trash cans. Which, as everybody knows, is not a good idea because then nobody knows where to recycle. They went out and bought $1,200 per unit trash cans, which are a brass/bronze. They did the same for the recycling cans.”
With this issue of aesthetics and reputation in mind- the most powerful way to make the case for reuse after the financial pitch is to present a picture of business as usual. This means taking photos of reusable assets in skips and on loading bays about to be skipped. (That means put in the dumpster for our friends in the US).
Illustrating the broken process in this way pushes the board’s buttons around the inefficient use of assets and unnecessary spend. Board members do not want to see this be sure to point out that.
Using weak language
At the end of the pitch, instead of saying ‘let me know’, you do one of two things. Judging on the situation, you either provide the next step of action, to show that you think in a linear and progressive way and are already visualising the transition of your proposal, or, you ask a questions to takje down any barriers thet they have in their minds. Download the guide for a list of questions which can help with this.
Picture the scene...
There are ten people in a boardroom. Eight of them support your ideas for increased reuse through simple reuse practices. You have gone in there with a plan and executed it to perfection.
Twenty minutes through your presentation you can feel the optimism flying through the room. Ideas and opportunities are flowing from the lips of the CFO. You can tell that you’ve won your audience. You can feel the “yes” coming.
For you to experience all of this, read this guide in its entirety and apply each of the ten steps.
Download our guide by clicking the image below to discover 10 more ways to get senior buy in for your project...