How To Pitch Your Ideas Internally

By Austin Bauer –  PCC, Performance Coach and Facilitator

You’ve come up with a great idea for your agency. Maybe it’s an internal project. Maybe it’s a new way of completing a repetitive task. For any number of reasons, you likely need help from others to make it happen.

In Part 3 of my Intrapreneur’s Toolkit webinar bundle, I run through the Benefits and Audience tool to identify the people with the right resources or decision making power to help.

Let’s say you’ve identified those individuals, and have scheduled a time to pitch. Here’s how to adjust your message to win over the people who can help you make your agency even better.

BEFORE THE PITCH

You’ll need to do your homework about the people in the room. The more you understand their motivations, and how your idea might help or hurt them, the better you will be at addressing those specific areas of excitement or concern in your pitch.

Let’s use a hypothetical example. Say you work at an agency with notoriously poor internal communication. You think a company-wide intranet would be a good solution. That’s your “idea.”

For each person you’ll present to, ask these questions in relation the intranet idea:

  • What does this person have access to, or decision-making power over, that could contribute to making this intranet happen?
  • What do they stand to gain if your project is successful?
  • What do they stand to lose if your project is successful?
  • What do they care about personally?
  • What do they care about professionally?

You will also need to gather intel on other companies – and your own – to give your audience some context around your idea.

  • Conduct Competitive Research – Look at other companies who have implemented an intranet? What worked? What didn’t?
  • Conduct Internal Research – Shop around your idea to a few colleagues. What’s exciting about it? What would they change? Transcribe and save the postitive feedback, and update your pitch to address any thoughts or concerns that arise.
  • Figure out what you need – Be clear on your Ask. Know what needs to happen, how much it will cost, how roughly many hours it will take. Be able to tie the success of your idea back to measureable items like cost and time savings, and the harder to measure areas like stronger employee engagement and culture.
  • Connect to Vision – Research your company’s vision, mission, and values. Check the website or your handbook. Consider what has been said at all-company updates. Be able to show how your project directly supports those stated goals.

DURING THE PITCH

The day has come. Time to present. You may present one time to a group, or multiple times to individuals and smaller groups.

Regardless of setup, think about the motivations of everyone present in the room, and follow these steps.

Reiterate your commitment ­– Thank them for coming, and demonstrate your commitment by pointing to one or two areas in which you’ve helped the company in unique ways. This is a quick recap of your track record to remind them that you are proactive and add value to the organization, even if they don’t regularly see it.

Set up the problem you are going to address – Clearly state the issue that your idea addresses or solves. In our example, show how bad communication has held the company back using stories and statistics. Maybe there are several reviews mentioning bad communication at your agency on Glassdoor.

Show examples of others doing it well, and not so well – Show how other companies have addressed this problem, with varying levels of success, to give your stakeholders an idea of the broader landscape in which you are working. Try to compare with companies in the same industry and size, as well as other industries and sizes to give broad context. If a Fortune 500 has successfully implemented an, and the 300-person agency down the street has done the same, both with great results, then there is a good chance it’s at least worth considering for your 250-person agency.

Connect to the stakeholder’s needs – If an intranet is your proposed solution to the internal communications problem, you have to first show how the internal comms problem negatively affects each stakeholder. Then show how the intranet is the solution to that pain.

Connect to the agency’s needs – The same math applies to the agency. Especially if there is a vision and mission statement publicly displayed (on their website, for instance), you have to show how the act of addressing the internal communications problem through an intranet supports the overall mission and vision of your company. This is another step in aligning your idea with each stakeholder, and the company as a whole.

Use testimonials and feedback as social proof – Before the pitch, you did some internal research. Now it’s time to pull out those notes and look at the responses the question you asked, “What’s exciting about [my idea]?” You’re bound to have at least a few responses from colleagues saying things in support of your idea like, “Oh yeah, we would total use that.” Keep these anonymous unless you have permission. This shows decision-makers that there is already some excitement around your idea, which is infectious.

Make the Ask – You’ve already gotten clear on this in preparing for the pitch. You have built a case for implementing an intranet. Now is the time to complete the narrative by asking clearly, concisely, and with confidence the details of what you need from your stakeholders. If you have the skills to build the intranet, you may ask to be given certain amount of work hours per week to build it. If you need to partner or assemble a team, tell the audience what kind of partners you need and how much time you estimate it will take. Be clear about your timelines, keep things short, then let your stakeholders respond.

You will likely get the response, “Let us talk about it.” That’s perfect. Be patient.

AFTER THE PITCH

If you get a NO, find out, “What would be changed to have made you say Yes?

You may have been addressing a problem that isn’t viewed as important by decision makers. Or there may not be many disposible resources for your agency due to some unexpected costs you aren’t aware of. There are a million good reasons for a No. Don’t take it personally. Get as much information as you can, and use it to either hone your idea into something that’s a better fit, or move on to something else.

If you get a YES

  • Assemble your team (check out Intrapreneurship Toolkit – Webinar #3 on Influence)
  • Build a prototype or pilot version of your idea
  • Test / Collect more feedback
  • Keep honing
  • Present the results to decision makers

How To Apply This

Follow the steps above. For more context and tools on this and other topics around Intrapreneurship, and in general about being proactive person who strives for excellence, check out my 3-part Intrapreneur’s Toolkit series or email austin@simpleprogressllc.com

For more on this topic, take a look at our Intrapreneur’s Toolkit webinars.