Think like an FD or CEO

We have all been there, I guess: we create a great programme that will tick all the boxes and deliver the results our client contact outlined in the brief – then it does not go ahead. ‘Budget issues; finance is tight… maybe next financial year.’ Training is one of those subjects that everyone acknowledges its importance, but in the heat of competitive demands, it seems to have the weakest case – even when a budget has been earmarked.

It is easy for us trainers and coaches to wring our hands and blame the short-sighted bean-counters, but that is not going to help us make our case for expenditure. When putting together a programme, as well as detailing the operational deliverables we must also put forward a sound business case. If we see a significant obstacle being the FD or CFO, we should not be looking to fight them, but think like them. You may be working on a course or workshop for a manager or department head, but if that project depends upon a CEO or CFO to sign it off, you need to make a compelling reason for them to do so. Think like a CEO rather than a trainer for a while.

Those top-level directors, the ones with the power of life or death over your project, are busy people. Make sure your project proposal has a short, executive summary right at the start. And focus upon the benefits, the real business benefits that will accrue from the training project. Most importantly, try to quantify the results. You may need the help of your client contact who raised the brief. Will the desired improvements increase efficiency, save time, reduce waste, expand capabilities? Try to put some figures against it. If they are not directly available from your client, perhaps make industry comparisons, or look at competitors; maybe trade bodies have figures you can use to build your case. There is nothing like pound note or dollar signs to grab the attention of people who spend all day staring at the bottom line.

So, next time you are working up a proposal, as well as looking at the benefits for the delegates, spend time also underlining the benefits to the organisation.

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