What to do (and what not to do) to win budget approval

by John Hilton16 Dec 2015
The first thing L&D practitioners can do to win budget approval is find out what the C-Suite are looking for in a business case, said Sam Russell, Director of Client Services & Business Development at Rhodes Business School.

He added that if L&D professionals can understand how the person they are trying to convince likes to converse it can make a huge difference.

“For example, you get people who really want lots of details and will sit in a room for an hour or more and find out everything,” he told L&D Professional.

“Others just want to cut to the chase, and you can imagine somebody who likes things to the point is probably is not going to respond too well if they are getting large amounts of information.”

The next point is to understand your organisation’s business strategy so that you can make sure your request actually fits in with and assists in achieving that strategy, he said.

This should be taken into account not just from an organisational level, but from what the person’s motivators are and what he or she is looking to achieve, Russell added.

“Clearly, if you’re going in with something that you can show is going to assist in that you are a lot more likely to get approval,” he said.

It’s also absolutely vital to practice your delivery, he said. Particular people might not be so great at their presentation skills, but there is obviously a lot of information, advice and training programs on presenting.

“I think practicing delivery is very important for anyone in a role that requires any kind of presenting and negotiations,” Russell said.

He added that it’s also important to make sure you have a full understanding of how to develop a compelling business case that supports your request for funds.

“I think one of the hidden answers in getting agreements for L&D funding is really being able to put out that business case in a very compelling way,” he said.

Finally, it’s important to speak in the language of the people you are trying to convince, added Russell.

“For example, we might assume it is a member of the C-Suite and in particular somebody like the CEO or the CFO we are trying to convince,” he said.

“In the wider L&D community, we speak about things like learning outcomes, competency frameworks and capability development, and when I have been involved in helping people develop a business case I see people use that kind of terminology when they are proposing to the C-suite.

“One has to understand the language that they tend to talk in involves things like profitability, productivity, reduced costs, bottom line and ROI."

Russell told L&D Professional that if practitioners go into these meetings talking in L&D language it shouldn’t be too surprising if the C-Suite don’t get overly excited or don’t really understand what they are looking to achieve.

“However, if we talk to them about the ROI of the program, and how we are going to reduce costs and improve productivity and profitability, I almost guarantee you will see a very big difference in the reaction from those people,” he said.