Sales Pitch: How to Sell Your IT Strategy to the Board

September 24, 2015
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Selling your future IT Strategy to the board is a great opportunity to make your mark, but your vision is unlikely to gain traction if your sales pitch relies on pure tech speak.

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Selling your future IT Strategy to the board is a great opportunity to make your mark, but your vision is unlikely to gain traction if your sales pitch relies on pure tech speak.

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All too often, when an IT pro tries to explain the need for change and investment – even a pro who has made it to director and has a seat on the board – communication issues arise.

If your normal mode of speech is High Geek, try translating one of your most technical white papers into everyday English. If you need help you could do worse than The Economist’s Style Guide.

If you find yourself talking like this to the board…

  • API
  • Cloud
  • Cluster
  • Encoding
  • Library
  • Puppet
  • RAID
  • Terabytes
  • Source Control

…you’re highly unlikely to get this.

  • Budget
  • Buy-in
  • Investment
  • Authorisation
  • Capital
  • Funding
  • Consensus
  • Approval
  • Green Light
  • Support
  • Advocacy
  • Endorsement

So, what can you do to turn your tech speak into business speak?

Step out of your technological mindset

Long presentations on subjects outside your audience’s core competence are a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t bore the board with too much detail about how the technology actually works.

Focus on the business case for your strategy. Hone it down to:

Three simple concepts:

1. Focus on the Problem / Opportunity

  • What is the issue you’ve identified?
  • How does it manifest itself?
  • Why is it important?
  • What will happen if we do nothing about it?

2. Deliver the Strategy

  • Brief summary of what success looks like
  • A high level and simple description of what technical, procedural and organisational changes are necessary to achieve the strategic goals
  • Reasons (in clear English) for your roadmap

3. Finish with Costs & Benefits

  • Accurately articulate the cost of your strategy tied to a strong business case
  • How will the strategy enable the business as a whole to generate more income?
  • How long before the organisation sees ROI?

Be brief…but be prepared

Remember the old showbiz adage, ‘Leave them wanting more’?

If the board like the bare-bones of your proposal they will come back for more detail. Make sure you have all the figures, quotes, projections to hand so you aren’t tripped up by any questions that arise.

Next Steps

The difference between strategy and successful implementation is detail. In implementing a major change to an organisation’s IT strategy there will be a lot of detail to consider.

The trick is knowing when to use this detail and how to explain it. After all, a lot of people have their own agendas, interests and careers to consider.

Takeaways

  • Before you present your next big IT initiative to the board, put yourself in their shoes. What do they need to hear?
  • Review how you can make tech talk accessible and appealing to non-technical colleagues.
  • Keep your presentations short and sweet.
  • Focus on the business case for your IT strategy.

 

For advice on how to put the needs of the business at the centre of your IT Strategy, download the eGuide: The Future Direction of IT – Integrating your IT strategy with your business strategy

This post first appeared on the LinuxIT blog