People make the difference at every level of your organization. Once you’ve spotted an opportunity to take advantage of an emerging trend, finding the right person to help you execute becomes the priority.
Prepare to channel your inner ad executive (think Don Draper from “Mad Men”.) Winning approval to take on a new team member will often require making a successful pitch, just like creative teams do when presenting their concepts. You need to convey that allocating budget to hire someone will result in a positive return for your organization.
Here are some tips to help you make sure you are prepared to deliver a winning argument.
Preparation Is Key to Victory
Remember, preparation is always more than half the battle. Start thinking about your proposal from the perspective of the executive you will be pitching to. Put yourself in their shoes. Close your eyes if you have to. Avoid being myopic about your own objectives and goals and instead present your proposal from a perspective that highlights the risks and opportunities they are going to consider. (And throw back at you.) This will take planning and research on your part and a willingness to be objective about your own goals.
Present a Clear Reason to Say “Yes”
Think about the problems you can solve by adding a new creative team member. About the missed business opportunities a new team member could enable you to address. Write them all down on a sheet of paper, a Google doc, or what have you.
Once you’ve understood those problems and opportunities, it’s vital to communicate how they translate to increased revenue or decreased cost. If there are opportunities being missed, turn those into a story of lost productivity, lost sales, missed customer engagements. Ultimately, your proposal must make financial sense for the company to approve. By doing all this mental work beforehand, you make it easier for the executive to say yes.
The Art of Negotiation
Before you go into that meeting, be prepared to compromise. Remember, everyone is competing for a share of one limited budget. Decision makers must weigh requests for additional staff and budgets on a regular basis.
Having some flexibility in your request can help make the process simpler, and increase your chances of success. Perhaps you might consider hiring a more junior person with a lower salary? (Having a salary guide on hand can help give you ballpark figures.) Or maybe the new staff member could also fill in a role that was recently vacated by another employee.
Don’t forget to look for opportunities to compromise elsewhere in your budget. New hardware and software tools are a tremendous resource to have, but they can be expensive to purchase. Is there room to make cuts elsewhere if you bring on new talent?
Make Your Presentation Shine
Mark Twain once wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Take the time to make your presentation as short as possible, while still containing the information you wish to convey.
In your proposal, offering multiple options increases your chances of success. If you present your argument as a yes-no question, you have a 50-50 chance of success. Or, with some execs, no chance. By presenting other clear options, you improve your odds. Perhaps the work could be outsourced or a temporary employee brought in to help. Neither of those may be your preferred option, but they move the focus of the conversation from whether the need can be addressed to HOW the need can be addressed.
A Winning Strategy
You may not get every request for new headcount approved, but preparation and execution of a winning strategy dramatically increase your chances of success. Always try to view your negotiation through the eyes of the executive from whom you’re seeking approval, with a focus on improving the bottom line.
Being ready with a compromise always helps improve your odds. And above all, respect the executive’s time and keep the proposal short and to the point, while offering alternatives that focus on specific possibilities for HOW to solve the problem, not whether to solve the problem.