How to Pitch a New Idea to Your Boss in 5 Steps
You have a great idea. You’re ready to implement it. But first, you need to get your boss’s approval. Here are five tips to getting to yes with your manager.
First, define the need. And then translate it into your boss’s language.
Before you walk into this meeting, you’ll need to do a little homework. Begin by really pinpointing what business need you are trying to address. How it will help the company? Increase the bottom line? Build company culture?
Make sure you illustrate how your idea ladders up to larger business goals and objectives, like improving customer satisfaction, moving products to market faster, and increasing efficiencies that result in increased revenue and lowered costs.
Flesh out some details.
If your boss asks how you’re planning to roll this idea out, you better be ready to answer. Before you go in, think about how long the implementation will take, how many staff members will need to be involved, and how long until you see an ROI.
Build a story around your idea.
Great presenters know that narrative is more interesting and memorable than facts and figures. Consider the TED talk. The presenter usually has elements of research, statistics, and figures, but finds ways to present those through a story. It’s more engaging and memorable than a recitation of slides and numbers.
When you’re pitching an idea, envelope it within a story. Take your boss on a journey, complete with characters, conflict, a fairy godmother or knight in shining armor, and the happy resolution.
The fairy godmother or knight that saves the day is your idea, of course. Use storytelling techniques to illustrate how your idea will lead to a “and they lived happily ever after” ending.
Don’t be afraid to address concerns and objections.
Imagine that you’re in the room with your boss. You’re getting closer to The Ask, and you’re feeling good. They’re smiling, nodding, asking the right questions.
Then, out of nowhere, he drops a bomb on your presentation. You stutter out a response and try to quickly move on. But he’s not listening anymore; he’s having doubts.
You can avoid this scenario with a little preparation. Write a list of potential concerns and objections and prepare an answer. Also prepare to address these head-on during your presentation.
If your boss is concerned about costs, discuss expenses. Point out how much money is lost under the current system and how much your idea could potentially save. If your boss is focused on reaching a new market segment this year, discuss how your idea moves the business closer to this goal.
Choose the right time.
Be cognizant of any pressures or deadlines your boss is currently facing. It’s also good to keep a pulse on what the company is going for. The last thing you want is to surprise your boss the day she has to present at the board meeting or after a big change has been made in the company.
Looking for more practical tips on building and presenting a business case? Check out this in-depth guide, which covers how to demonstrate value, build out an implementation plan, anticipate objections, and make the pitch.