Planning for Fiscal Year 2017: Pitching your Proposal
By Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
You’ve done your homework – you’ve analyzed successful healthy living programs, you’ve identified new services that will positively impact your retailer’s business goals, and you’ve determined budget needs for the coming year. You’re on the home stretch, and all that remains is to make your pitch as a part of fiscal year 2017 planning.
Consider these tips as you pitch your plans and budgets for your healthy living programs:
- Start with the Executive Summary. Give the bottom line up front and succinctly, and then delve into the details. In this way, executives know the overall budget impact and can then focus on how you get there. Keep in mind that the entire presentation should be tight, with efficient use of words, slides and graphics. Present problems worth solving, recommend solutions, and explain how solving these problems positively impact the business. Verbose presentations and lengthy explanations will likely turn off executives. If they don’t grasp your concepts in a short time span, they may presume shoppers won’t understand it either. Additionally, calendars are jam-packed at budget review time, and being respectful of executives’ time will score you points.
- Champion Your Programs. In order to convince others that your ideas, plan and budget are great, you have to believe it yourself. Be confident in your plans and their potential to bring business to your retailer. Doubts are contagious; if you have them, chances are those you are presenting to will get them as well.
- Market your Plans. It’s easy to forget that requesting money requires marketing and selling. This means selling the value of the programs and services for which you are requesting funding. It’s easy to get sidetracked with execution and operations when it’s essential to stay focused on business insights. A popular trend in today’s communications is storytelling and everyone loves a good story. Think of your plan and budget request as a story. Humanize how past program successes have touched individual shoppers, and the potential for the future. In story fashion, showcase how investing in your team and your programs enhances business goals.
- Draw Conclusions for Them. Never leave your audience asking “so what” at the end of your pitch. Clearly define the conclusions you want to convey: a budget increase is required to achieve A, B, and C for the company. Call for action in a clear, precise way. You’re essentially bookending your pitch, starting with an executive summary, providing pertinent details, and wrapping up with the conclusions you want executives to draw.
- Build Coalitions. As you know, successful execution of RD programs and services requires cooperation across various functions of the retailer. In preparing your pitch, review it with key department heads who can lend support. Gain their insight on whether you’re presenting the plans and budget in a way that will resonate with decision-makers as well as methods that have been successful in the past.
Whether you’re planning and budgeting for a new fiscal year or pitching a request to expand your programs, this three step process of Evaluating (attach link to article), Planning and Budgeting (attach link to article), and Pitching can be used in a variety of situations and throughout the year.