Senior executives tend to be big-picture people. It’s their job to think about the company as a whole, steering the efforts of hundreds (or thousands) of workers toward a common goal. While individual people within the C-suite may be quite knowledgeable about technology — the CTO, for example — that’s probably not the biggest reason that they were chosen for the job. Executives are there to be the company’s leaders, and if you want to pitch a new technology to them, it helps to see things from their perspective.
That’s not always easy if you’re pitching internally. Problems and inefficiencies that may seem glaringly obvious to a frontline customer support rep or mid-level manager might not translate easily to an executive. Their view of the company’s daily operations might be limited to department head meetings and KPI dashboards. That can make it hard for them to understand the value of a new technology.
Good executives also understand that they can’t see the whole picture. But for your pitch to connect with them, they do need to see the problems you’re trying to solve in the right context. It’s your job to bridge that gap.
Every company faces a unique set of issues. When an executive at your company agrees to hear your pitch, it’s almost always because they’re looking for a solution to a specific problem. These are often classic “10,000-foot view” issues about increasing revenue, reducing costs, or improving the customer experience. If you can demonstrate that you understand the problem, and have identified the right technology to solve it, you will have their full attention.
No matter what the technology is (CRM, ERP, AI, CX, marketing automation), the process of pitching to the C-suite is the same. You’re talking to big-picture people, and you may only have a few moments of their time.
Here are five tips for making your C-suite technology pitch as compelling and efficient as possible:
This doesn’t mean that you need to “dumb down” your pitch, but it does mean that you should focus on getting to the point. Most senior executives really only want to know two things: 1) What problem does this technology solve. 2) What will it cost? It’s not that they aren’t interested in the details of a given technology, it’s just that they care far more about the end results.
Executives already understand that technology can disrupt entire industries. Your own company might have been one of those disruptors not that long ago. What these senior executives want to see is the opportunity that this technology provides, and what the risks are if they ignore it.
Pitching technology to your C-suite can feel overwhelming. Executives hear a lot of pitches. Everyone seems to have some new technology that’s going to change the game. Unfortunately, these pitches tend to fall apart when it’s time to talk about the specifics. How will this new technology actually improve those big-picture problems for the company? What happens at each step, and how do all those steps result in measurable results? If you can’t answer those questions, don’t waste their time.
From a senior executive’s point of view, all technology is expensive. It’s expensive to purchase, to implement, and to maintain. If they’re going to stick their neck out for something with a big price tag attached, they want to be absolutely certain that it’s going to work. Don’t dance around the topic of cost. Instead, focus on the value of investing in the technology. This can be indirect value — CRMs generally don’t directly increase revenue, for instance, but they do remove friction from the sales funnel — but it does need to present a coherent method for providing a real and meaningful return on investment.
The easiest way to ruin a C-suite level pitch is to give them the impression that talking with you is a complete waste of their time. Practice and refine your pitch. Provide visuals if you need them. Learn everything you can about the person you’ll be speaking with. Customize your pitch to the specific needs and challenges of the company. Don’t be afraid to provide personal insight into how it will improve operations. Present yourself with the clothes and grooming needed to be taken seriously. Know your product, and be ready for questions.
When a pitch goes well, it usually becomes an interview. You have successfully captured their attention, and now it’s time to get into the details. At this stage of the process, the most important thing you can do is to listen. Stop trying to sell them. Pay attention to their concerns, and engage with their questions. If they move forward with your idea, you may well become a point person for the entire project. To do that job, you’ll need to have as complete an understanding — a big-picture perspective, if you will — as possible.
Pitching technology to your C-suite can be intimidating. You may lack the technical expertise to fully answer every question, or have only a rough idea about indirect topics like the costs of customizations or training staff on the new systems. That’s why it’s important to work with the right technology partner. Contact us today.