How to successfully pitch an ecommerce project to your CEO
CEOs and business owners are often short on time, and pinning them down to discuss projects and communicate the key benefits of your proposed ecommerce project can be a challenge. For all you Heads of Ecommerce out there, we've outlined our formula to deliver a successful project pitch for your CEO. Take a look and get your pitch in shape!
Set your intentions
First things first, tell your CEO how much of their time you’re going to be taking up, plus what you’ll be discussing, why you’re discussing this today, and what you need from your CEO, in terms of decisions and actions within this meeting. Where possible, get the decision that you need in that meeting. If you have to wait for a decision after the meeting, it’s much less likely to be agreed in the timeframe that you need.
This is a very simple but often overlooked approach. How can you possibly expect to get what you want and need from this meeting if you don't frame it in a clear and simple way?
Use a story arc to frame your entire pitch
Everyone loves a story. It breaks complexity down into simplicity. The story arc is a simple tool that enables you to explain your problem and solution, and everything in between, by telling a story. It's a very simple method that many great novels and movies have been created around. Lots of speakers use it too. It's also incredibly effective in the boardroom.
It’s rarely used in ecommerce, which is probably all the more reason to give it a try!
Here are a couple resources to look at if you want to learn more about creating a story arc:
Bring everything back to numbers
More often than not, the CEO just wants to know what problem your project will solve, and more importantly, what is the return on investment. You need to be able to clearly explain what the financial gain will be for the investment and effort involved in the project that you’re pitching.
Don’t go into the boardroom with an Excel spreadsheet. You should show your ROI calculations in a very simple visual, on one single page. Of course, you should have some of the workings in a spreadsheet ready to call upon, should you be asked, but this will rarely be requested, so you can keep it open in the background and it’s there if you need it.
Focus on what market problem this solves
Your solution should focus on one of two opportunities
1 – Why it's essential to react to a market change that has already disrupted your industry
2 – Why it’s essential to take advantage of an opportunity within your organisation that’s ripe for disruption, but has not yet been capitalised upon
Throughout your pitch, keep coming back to the problem that you're seeking to solve with the ecommerce project. This should be the theme of your entire conversation with your CEO.
Keep it brief
We're not just talking about the length of time that you spend in the meeting, rather the length of any documentation you may or may not choose to show.
We suggest booking a 30-minute slot, spending no longer than 20 minutes explaining your idea, and allowing 10 minutes for questions at the end. Don't fall into the trap of thinking, “if the meeting runs over to an hour, then it's been a great meeting.” If there were lots of questions, it’s a sign that you haven't solved the problem with a simple enough explanation. See this as a warning sign that it could take longer than you hoped to get this signed off.
Always end with a visual map
In order to get decisions made, you need to summarise everything you've talked about in one single visual. This might be a timeline or something different – there are no rules here are. This slide is where you’re asking for a decision to be made. You’re summarising everything that you've just spoken about, reminding your CEO of your intention, the speed at which you want to move and when you want to start.
End with a question
By now, you should be feeling confident that your CEO is on board with what you’re proposing and they’re ready to back this immediately or not. Consider asking an open question at the end. It gives the room the time and airspace for people to say what’s really on their mind.
This question was influenced by a great book called The Coaching Habit, by Michael Bungay Stanier. It ensures that whatever is on people's minds is brought forward at this moment in time. If you want the decision to be made today, it’s essential that you invite this. The question is, “Do we need to discuss anything else today in order to move this project forward?”.
If you’re being asked multiple questions that you’re struggling to answer, you're very unlikely to get the project signed off at this moment. If you’re asked a couple of light questions or given a handful of light objections, these are usually just signs of interest or concern around risk. You should be able to answer these questions easily. If you can't, you should rethink your proposal.
If you get the green light for your project, you'll find our ecommerce goal setting blog useful: 5 effective goal setting tactics for ecommerce projects
It's impossible to convince everyone to make the decision that you want them to make. The purpose of this blog is to give you a framework and methodology to prepare and present your ideas to your CEO, to give you a much greater chance of them being agreed upon and executed.
Now you're ready to get started! Feel free to get in touch to learn more or to let us know how this pitching method works for you!
Are you currently preparing your ecommerce strategies and campaigns for the year ahead? If so, grab our great Guide to Creating an Ecommerce Roadmap and get our expert tips and step-by-step approach to creating an effective roadmap. Download the free guide now!
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