Getting executive buy-in and funding is one of the biggest obstacles implementing a new business initiative whether you are in a new role, new organization or just have a new idea for driving the business forward. There is only so much that can be done, and only so many “top” priorities that can be executed with limited resources. Top executives are always weighing requests for funding and other resources.
The question then becomes: How do you get commitment for your initiative, especially if you don’t have a long track record of success in your current role to trade on?
Focus on these three things, discussed in-depth below:
- Outline a clear strategy that ties to the organizations broader vision
- Build a foundation of smaller wins to prove you can be successful
- Offer clear quantifiable metrics that you can be successful against
Outline a clear strategy
A clear strategy helps you build credibility; it shows the integrity of thought and clarity of vision. Be concise and lay out how your plan supports organizational goals.
The first step is to think critically about exactly what problem you want to solve. Answering this question at a strategic level gives you a “true north” against which to pressure test your goal, execution plan and results. Once you have your true north, you can articulate how your solution solves the underlying problem and what tactical steps are required to execute.
Ensuring early strategic alignment has the additional benefit of tying what you care about to something you know the executive team cares about. This means making your case is significantly easier.
Build a foundation of smaller wins
Your track record is the best way to build trust (or lose it). You don’t need increase efficiency 10% every time though. Multiple small wins can help build your credibility just as effectively, and give a long-term plan momentum. As you build your plan, lay out attainable, qualitative goals early in the process to help solidify buy-in as the project moves into more intensive later stages. If you have previous success on a similar project, make sure you identify your credibility in the area.
For example, maybe you have an idea about how to adjust coverage of an entire sales organization to better target a geography or customer segment. A great smaller win might be showing how to use a Solution Engineer to drive a complex deal to close. It indicates you understand the resources required to drive pipeline, a critical goal of any sales team.
Don’t overlook past wins that don’t align 100% with your current proposal. For example, if you are working on a large-scale partner recruitment plan, you might point to a past instance where you used data to target a specific audience or had success driving other types of partner activity.
Small wins and past successes build confidence in your ability to drive the current project.
Offer clear quantifiable metrics
Finally, define success and get buy-in early. Every executive is fundamentally results oriented, so defining success means you control what results you will be held accountable for.
Your success metrics should meet three criteria:
- Objective and measurable: You don’t your success to be subject to interpretation by others
- Time bound: Set absolute dates for your goals or deliverables. Meeting a goal on time and under budget is three successes in one.
- Controllable: You can’t control every variable in any project, but ultimately you need to be able to substantially impact the outcome.
The traditional SMART criteria offer another way to look at goal setting. The bottom line for is what are you willing to be held accountable for? And how will your executive do that?
At the end of the day, getting the resources and commitment comes down to convincing your executive or board of directors to make a bet on you.
For them to take that bet, you need to ensure that they agree with your strategy, trust your ability to execute, and know how to measure your success or failure.
Your trust capital grows exponentially every time you plan and execute a successful project. But as any investor knows, a failure can cost you big.