You have identified a problem or opportunity for your company. Now you need to get approval. So, how do you present a proposal to management that will get approved? The process is actually pretty simple. The method of how to present a proposal to management that we use works about 100% of the time. Just follow the simple steps below, and your project will easily get funded.
How to Present a Proposal to Management in Three Simple Steps
Step #1: Clearly State the Problem/Opportunity in Your Title Along with Your Solution
The average attention span of people today is about eight seconds. (See report done by Microsoft about human attention spans.) In reality, our attention spans haven't changed. It's just that we are bombarded with so much data on a daily basis, we are just more difficult to entertain. For instance, think about how often you have just hit the "Next Episode" button on Netflix without even thinking. You didn't lose attention at all during that six-hour binge of Breaking Bad or Orange Is the New Black.
My point is that people are less inclined to allow you to waste their time. So, even if the big boss gets an important call one minute into the presentation, you want her to know the gist of your idea.
Bad Examples of Proposal Presentation Titles
Stay away from vague or uninteresting titles like...
- Ideas for Fixing the Sales Funnel Problem
What exactly are the ideas? What sales funnel problem? Why do I care?
- Effective Disciplinary Policies Can Help Our Company
What policies? How are they different from what we have now? Help us in what way?
- Distribution Problems Can Be Fixed with a Capital Investment
What distribution problems? For that matter, what part of the distribution process? What problems? Can it be fixed how? What kind of investment? What do you want me to buy for you?
Better Examples of Proposal Presentation Titles
While, maybe not perfect, titles like these will get you a more attentive audience.
- Automating the Repetitive Data Entry Part of the Sales Process will Allow Our Sales Team to Increase Efficiency and Revenue.
- Consistent and Fair Written Disciplinary Policies Will Help Us Avoid Wrongful Termination Lawsuits.
- If We Buy a Box Truck with a Lift-Gate, We Can Save Over $35,000/Year in Local Freight Charges.
See how these updated titles actual inform the audience much better? To create a good title, first, create a clear statement of what the problem is. Second, create a simple statement about what your solution is. Also, make sure that your solution has a built-in benefit to the audience. Finally, just combine the two statements into a single sentence for your title.
Step #2 Start with a Detailed Story of Why the Problem is So Bad.
Wait... Don't they already know that this is a problem? EVERYONE knows what the problem is. In fact, why don't we just skip this step and save time? I want to know how to present a proposal to management, but I don't want to baby them.
This is the line of thinking that leads to the biggest challenges with these types of presentations. Remember earlier when I referenced the Microsoft study about attention span? That study didn't say that people are dumber or less attentive than previous generations. The conclusion was the opposite. Our attention span is actually more developed. So, it takes more interesting content to break through our guard. That is why stories are so important. Stories transport the listeners to another place and time. These stories creatively engage the listener.
Example of Stating the Problem Without a Story
"The repetitive manual data entry that our sales reps have to do is wasting a lot of quality sales time."
The positive about this statement is that it is very specific about what the problem is. However, this statement doesn't create an emotional impact on the audience. The problem doesn't seem that big. So, when you get to your solution, and that solution is going to cost money, the audience isn't compelled. There is no emotional draw.
However, When You Start With a Story, You Capture and Hold the Attention of the Audience.
"Last week, I spent the morning just watching a couple of our best sales reps. Early on Tuesday morning, Jan got a call from a prospective customer who wanted a price quote. She spent about 20 minutes consulting with the client on the phone. During this call, she made quick notes in the customer relationship management software (CRM). However, at times, she made notes on a notepad at her desk as well. I assume that this was to make sure that she didn't miss any important details.
"When she finished the call, she added all of the written notes into the CRM. Next, she manually moved the contact in the CRM to the proposal stage of the sales funnel. After that, she began working on the written proposal to this contact. She summarized the content that she had put into the CRM and inserted that new text into the opening of the proposal. Next, she went to the price list, inserted the same data again to pull a quote. She copied and pasted the quote into the proposal. Just as she was about to save the proposal as a PDF to send to the contact, she got another phone call.
"On the new call, she had to do the same process to where she had finished putting all of the data into the CRM and moving the prospect in the sales funnel. Once she did this, she went back to finish the work with the first contact. It took us almost an hour and a half to get a quote out to the first contact. It took over two hours for the second contact to get a quote."
Finally, Summarize the Story with Your Problem Statement
As you can see, the compelling story with lots of details gets you to picture in your mind what the actual problem is. The analogy is that you are giving your audience a shovel that they use to dig their own hole. Once the hole is deep enough, then you drop down a ladder to help them get out. To magnify the size of this hole, though, summarize the problem in a single statement. For the earlier example, a summary might sound like the following:
"The big problem here is that we post on our website, 'Call for an Instant Quote.' However, our manual processes are causing these potential customers to have to wait hours for the quote. In many cases, the prospective customer is only looking for two or three quotes. So, if three of our competitors are giving this information sooner, we are likely not even being considered for their projects. (Especially if we are the third or fourth company that they call.) I have a solution, though. I think that we can make our 'Instant Quote' more 'Instant'."
Step #3: Now that You Have Their Attention, Give Them a Powerful Solution.
When you are looking at how to present a proposal to management, the solution is very important. Follow these simple steps for the best results.
- If the Solution is Simple, Just Give them the Solution.
"We can invest $249 in a plugin that will allow the different pieces of software to share information."
- If the Solution is Complex, Break the Solution Down into No More than Five Steps
- First, We Need to Get IT to Create a Single Input Portal to Reduce Errors and Speed Up the Process.
- Second, We Need to Retrain the Sales Reps on the New Process, So that We Don't Meet with Resistance from Them.
- Finally, We Will Need to Analyze the Data as We Implement to Determine When We Can Transition Current Sales Reps into Different Positions.
If you notice that in the step-by-step approach, I added the benefit to the company of that step. For instance, IF we create a single input portal THEN we reduce the errors and speed up the process. IF we retrain the sales team, THEN we won't get as much resistance. Finally, IF we analyze the data THEN we can save money on payroll. By inserting the benefits into the bullet points (or statements), we make a compelling pitch right away.
It is also a good idea to reinforce each point with a short example or "mini-story." I will explain this process in the final step.
- Paint the Picture of the Outcome that this Idea Will Create
The most important part of how to present a proposal to management is to paint the picture of success. An easy way to do this is to recreate the original story in your presentation. The simple solution example might be...
"We can invest $249 in a plugin that will allow the different pieces of software to share information. Jan would still spend the 20 minutes consulting with the contact. However, this time, she would insert the data directly into the CRM. The CRM would then send that data to the price sheet to pull a quote. Jan would see this instantly. Finally, the CRM would automatically pull the data that Jan entered and insert it into a proposal. The customer would receive a PDF with the content while Jan is still on the phone with her.
"Jan could serve three customers very well versus serving two customers inefficiently. We could reassign up to half of our current sales reps. So, this $249 investment will cut payroll almost in half."
If the solution is more complex, just paint the solution picture a little at a time to reinforce each step.
For Additional Help on How to Present a Proposal to Management Contact Us
In our public Fearless Presentations ® presentation training classes, we take you through this process. So, if you'd like additional coaching or help to present your ideas to management, we invite you to attend one of our classes. For a list of upcoming presentation coaching sessions, click this link!