In a previous article I shared Eight ways to improve your pitch ideas. In this article you’ll find seven more ways to improve your idea pitches. If you need approval, funding, or support, use these tips to make your next idea pitch the best it can be.
The seven tips are:
- Say how long the results will last for.
- Make it clear if the result will change over time.
- Say when the costs is going to happen.
- Break the costs into build, run, and maintain.
- Say if the costs will change over time.
- State what resources you need.
- Say what happens if the idea is ignored.
So if you want to increase the chances of your idea being approved, check out the tips below.
1. Say how long the results are going to last for
Description: Every pitch must include information about the results you expect to get. Those results will last for a period of time. They may last forever, or for just a few weeks. Whatever the case for your idea, make sure you say how long will that improvement will last for.
If you don’t do this…when you don’t say how long a result will last people will make assumptions. They may expect a good result to last longer than it will really last. They could approve the idea or build plans and budgets based on that incorrect assumption. When the result doesn’t last as long as they expect there will be a problem. The same is true if a negative result is assumed to be for a short period of time, but the reality is the negative result is forever.
How to do it: Include a statement about results duration in your pitch. Make it clear how long the result will last. This is true for positive and negative results.
- The increase in revenue will last for at least 12 month, but no longer than 18 months.
- We expect the decrease in production speed to only last 5 days, then we will be back at previous speed and have a 5% increase in the number of widgets made every day for as long as we run the process.
- This cost saving will last until the next round of negotiations with the supplier in 12 months.
2. Say if the result is going to change over time
Description: When you’re talking about the results that your idea will deliver, whether they’re cost savings, earnings efficiency differences. Whatever it is, you need to let the audience know if they’re going to change over time. Results rarely stay the same forever. They can get better or worse, and the people approving your idea need to know what to expect.
If you don’t do this…If you don’t explicitly state that results will change the audience will assume the results last forever. They could make plans based on expected results and those results change the plans could fail. E.g., if you propose a 10% cost saving the budget plans for next year may be built with the expectation of 10% less cost. If the savings reduce in the second year the budget wouldn’t be enough.
How to do it: When talking about how long the results will last include statements about how the results change. Say ‘The result will not stay the same forever’. And then say how you expect the results to change and over what time period.
- If you state that the result is a 5% performance improvement, is that going to be 5% this year and next year and every year in the future? Or is it going to be 5% this year, 10% next year, and then 1% or nothing after that?
- This software update will save everyone in your team 2 hours a month until the next major system upgrade in 2 years.
3. Say when the cost is going to happen
Description: Not only should you talk about how much your idea is going to cost to implement. You also need to say when that cost is going to happen. There’s a big difference between funding a project tomorrow and funding a project in six months’ time.
If you don’t do this…If the people funding the idea don’t know when the money must be available they can’t make an informed decision to support it or not. You might lose out on their support if they assume the money is needed straight away when you don’t actually need it until next year.
How to do it: When describing the cost of the project, include a timeframe for when the money will be spent.
- The total cost is $10,000. We need $2,000 within a week of starting the work. Another $6,000 a month after that, and $500 per year for the next four years to pay for licenses.
4. Make sure you break the costs into build, run and maintain
Description: When saying what it costs to build the idea or the initiative that you’re pitching, break the cost down into the three categories of build, run and maintain. These costs occur at different times and may be paid from by different budgets.
If you don’t do this…the audience won’t have the right information to make a decision about your idea. If you say your idea costs $5,000,000, the audience may assume that’s an up front build cost and say it is too expensive. But if that cost includes maintenance over 10 years the impact of the high cost is reduced. That might change the decision to approve the idea.
How to do it: Describe the cost in three parts. Say what the upfront build cost is. Then say how much it will cost to run. This can be per day, month, year, or whatever unit of time males sense for your company. Then say what the maintenance costs are. These should also have a time frame for when the costs will occur.
- It will cost $100,000 to design and implement the change, then we need $50,000 each year for a person to run the process. There are no maintenance costs.
- It will cost $500 to buy the machine, we need $200 every week to run it, and it’ll cost $4,000 every year for the maintenance work to keep it running smoothly.
5. Say if the costs change over time
Description: After you’ve built the thing you’re building, or once you’ve implemented the idea or the service, there will be a cost to run it and there’ll be a cost to maintain it. Make sure in your presentation and in your pitch that you are clear about if that cost changes over time.
If you don’t do this…If you don’t make it clear that the costs change, your audience may end up being surprised when the numbers and the budgets and the costs aren’t what they expect next year or the year after.
How to do it: Look at the expected cost over a long period. Know if the costs will change, then state what the changes are when talking about the cost in your pitch. Consider things like maintenance costs being low in the first year but increase every year after that because of higher maintenance needs. Will there be additional running costs when the product or idea grows and expands?
- Running costs are high in the first six months because we need to pay for training. But after that the running costs go down by 30% because the team will be experienced and efficient.
- The maintenance cost is nothing in the first year. It is $5,000 in the second year, and then $8,000 every year after that.
- It costs $2,000 per week to run the new process for 100 orders a week. If sales increase to 200 per week the running costs will increase by $1,200.
6. Say what resources are needed
Description: Whatever idea you’re trying to pitch, you will need resources. You may need resources to build, design, implement, support, run, and maintain whatever your idea is. Even at the end of the idea’s useful life you need resources to dismantle, or close it down. Those resources might be money, people, special equipment, particular skill sets you can’t find within your organization. Your pitch must include the resources you need.
If you don’t do this…If you don’t make it clear what resources are needed, the people you’re pitching to won’t have what they need to understand or evaluate your idea. They may reject your idea because they assume you need more resources than you actually need. Or they may approve the idea but later find you need a resource they are unable or unwilling to provide. That would waste time, effort, and money for any work done up to that point.
How to do it: Include a short section about resources in your pitch. Say what money you need. Name special resources required for the work. These may be people with special skills, equipment, or access to reporting data. Whatever it is , say what you need for the idea to work.
- In addition to the money, we need to use the largest conference room in the office for a month.
- We need Jane from the data science team to run the analysis. No one else has her skillset.
- I need to buy specialist design software to speed up the process.
7. Say what happens if your idea is ignored
Description: A lot of your pitch will focus on why what we’re proposing is good for the customer, the clients, or the organization. But, you also need to say what happens if your idea is not implemented. There is always a balance between the value of an opportunity and the implications of not doing it.
If you don’t do this…the audience wont have a critical piece of decision making information. Sometimes the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of taking action. Your company may miss an opportunity, or suffer consequences if they don’t act on your idea.
How to do it: Literally, state what the consequences will be if the idea isn’t approved. If we don’t do X then Y will happen. If we don’t do A we cannot do B.
- If we don’t improve the process our processing times will go from two days to three weeks. Customers will complain, want refunds, and leave bad reviews.
- If we don’t make this improvement, our customer satisfaction scored will go down.