Whether you’ve been asked to find a new solution, or you’ve stumbled across some software that you just know would do wonders for your team, convincing those with the actual purchasing power isn’t always the simplest of tasks.
If the purse strings are in someone else’s hands and they’re the ones you need to convince, then it’s essential to demonstrate the value this new technology will provide in a language they’ll appreciate and understand.
So, what steps should you be taking to make it happen?
Read on for practical tips to help you frame the proposal for new learning technology in your organization.
Identify Your Audience
When presenting a pitch for funding, you may only have one chance to get it right. Making sure all the right people are in the room is critical for several reasons:
- It will inform the content of your presentation
- You’ll know how in-depth you should go on specific features/benefits
- You’ll be able to prepare better for potential questions and objections
When you move on to building a presentation and crafting a story, you’ll be much better prepared for crafting a story that helps them engage with the potential benefits this new technology can bring to the organization.
Sending a Meeting Invitation
When sending out the meeting invitation for your funding pitch, make sure you:
- Are transparent about the outcome you want
- Attach a meeting agenda
- Be realistic about how much time you will need, but try to take up as little space in their calendars as possible
- Include the location for the meeting, whether it’s a physical office or log in details for a virtual meeting room
The attendees should understand what they are attending by glancing at the subject line and skimming over the meeting details.
Building the Perfect Presentation
1. The Powerpoint Structure
We’ve all sat through presentations with boring, overly detailed slides. So how can you be sure the structure of your presentation is built to engage? Follow these tips:
- Keep it simple
- Break out complex sections into multiple slides
- Limit the amount of text and bullet points
- Use transitions and animations sparingly
- Ensure all graphics and images are high-quality
- Choose a clear font and use large font sizes
- Create a color scheme and theme for your slides
- Use graphs and charts instead of tables/numbers where possible
2. Crafting a compelling story
The story you tell is perhaps the most critical aspect of your presentation, both on the physical slides and in how you present them. The perfect presentation “story” should be clear and compelling, while being as short and to the point as possible.
You must tailor the story to the presentation’s audience. What aspects of the new technology will resonate most with a CEO, COO, CFO, etc.? Address the appropriate concerns according to who will be in the room and who will make the final purchasing decision.
The day-to-day impact for you and your team will not necessarily be relevant in a funding pitch to this audience. Senior management is concerned with bottom-line figures and achieving business objectives.
This is your opportunity to frame a story around your current challenges and how the new learning software will help to achieve a new, more efficient state that drives better results. Senior management is always being asked to fund new activities or pieces of software. If they’re giving you their time, make sure your pitch addresses what they are most concerned about:
- CEO: how will this help drive the organization towards achieving high-level business objectives?
- COO: concerned with the impact on processes and any change management needed in operations departments
- CFO: concerned with cutting costs and creating cost-efficiency
- CIO: will want to know how the new technology integrates with the existing tech ecosystem
- CLO: how will this help create efficiencies in L&D and impact the service levels
Provide specific scenarios where the technology will impact these aspects of the business using Current State -> Desired State steps.
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The invitation is sent, and the slides are done. Now what?
Read the Room
What size is the room where the meeting will be held? Where will you be standing when you give the presentation? Knowing these things ahead of time can give you a chance to get comfortable with your surroundings, so you don’t have to think about them when it’s crunch time.
Get Your Timing Right
Make sure you know how much time you will have to deliver your presentation and practice accordingly. Don’t forget to leave at least ten minutes for questions at the end of the presentation.
Be Familiar With the Tech
There is nothing worse than standing up to deliver a presentation and realizing you don’t quite know how to connect your laptop or switch between slides, or how that projector box on the ceiling is meant to work. If possible, take some time in the room the day before and make sure you know how all the tech works. Arrive at least ten minutes early on the day of the presentation to get set up and deal with any malfunctions ahead of time.
The Perfect Delivery
Now that you’re familiar with the logistics, you should make sure that the rhythm and flow of your presentation are appropriate for the above factors.
When presenting to senior management for a funding request:
- Keep the tone formal and respectful, but confident.
- Anticipate that you may be interrupted during the presentation
- Be as prepared as possible for potential questions or objections
You should rehearse the presentation as many times as possible to make sure everything flows well. Do a complete dry-run with a colleague and encourage them to ask lots of questions, so you are comfortable presenting the material in front of a live audience.
Handling Questions & Objectives
Try to pre-empt potential questions or objections regarding the costs and risks associated with taking on new technology. Think about what your audience will care about in terms of a new technology’s potential negative impact and how it will be mitigated.
Some questions to prepare for in advance include:
- What is the duration of the contract? What happens if we want to cancel our subscription?
- How reliant will we be on the software? What if there are technical issues?
- Will our data be stored and secured appropriately?
Despite all your careful preparations, a question or objection that you are not ready for may come up. Don’t panic! The best thing to do is offer to follow up with further information if it’s something you don’t have on hand. Questions can also be a good sign. It may mean they are engaged with your presentation and interested in the solution.
Closing the Deal
Don’t forget that you’ve organized this meeting and crafted this presentation with a specific result in mind.
At the end of the presentation, make sure you directly request the funding you need. For example: “Thank you again for taking the time to attend the presentation. Is there anything preventing you from approving the budget for this technology, given what I have demonstrated today?”
Once you finish the presentation, make sure to follow up as soon as possible over email to encourage next steps. This is especially important if you didn’t get direct confirmation of success during the meeting.
In your follow-up email, remember to:
- Thank them again for their time
- Attach the presentation slides and any other relevant material
- Arrange follow-up meeting if necessary
- Reiterate main benefits that resonated
- Directly request information on next steps
You’re Good to Go!
Nothing can stop you now, so set up that meeting, build your presentation, and win the buy-in you need for your new learning technology!
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