You’ve got a cool strategy in mind. Let’s say it’s for attracting that ever-important younger generation to your financial institution. Something that will really set your organization apart from all the others in town. But the biggest hurdle is still in front of you: getting buy-in from your leadership team. 

Whether it’s the President, the Board of Directors, or other executive team members, there will be someone, at some time, who will balk at your Big Idea. How do you convince them to go with your plan?

1  Drop The Act

Rethink “convincing” – get away from feeling like you have to “sell” them. The sales act just leads to frustration on everyone’s part. No one likes being “sold to” or convinced. This approach also erodes whatever trust has been built up in the relationship. Think collaborating instead of convincing. Be authentic, real, and honest. The tips below will help. 

2 Connect To The Purpose

Those at the top of the organization are always thinking about the long-term goals of your credit union or community bank. So make sure your plan connects to those goals. Reference them in your discussions, a lot. Remind your team how those goals came to be (board planning session, executive retreat, etc.) then map out how your plan will help achieve those goals. 

3 Show Them The Numbers

Get your charts and graphs ready! Leadership teams crave numbers to help make decisions. Give them a head start by providing numbers related to your plan. Here are some to consider:

  • Estimates for the cost of your plan
  • Estimates for results
  • Demographic data (bonus tip: lean on your media partners for local demo and psychographic information – they have a ton of it!)
  • Your member data that supports the plan
  • Impacts to the budget such the potential revenue  

Gather as much data as you possibly can.

Softer Results

But what if your plan is more of an indirect campaign or on the softer side, such as brand awareness or cause marketing? You can still show estimates, especially for the costs, but the result estimates might be different than what your team is used to seeing. To help bolster your approach, look for research from academic or professional associations – they’ll likely help boost the confidence level in your plan. Return on investment for the softer side of advertising, marketing, and branding efforts is definitely harder to tie in to specific results so consider the softer outcomes. Emphasize the importance of the human results: trust-building, positive perceptions, community & cause uplift.

4 Include Them In The Planning

Instead of presenting your decision makers with a concrete plan, maybe your leadership team prefers being a part of the planning process instead. You might very well have a plan mapped out, just keep it to yourself and instead facilitate a planning session. Some leaders enjoy this type of teamwork and will have more buy in when they are involved in the planning itself. You’ll need to be flexible with the plan you had in mind, but the questions you ask, the exercises you lead, the examples you show, all of those materials can help guide your session towards your desired outcome. This doesn’t mean you are manipulating them, it simply means you are guiding them through several options, reaching the final decisions together, whatever that might be.

5 Include Other Departments

So your idea connects to corporate goals, you’ve gathered numbers and other data, but if you really want to ‘wow the crowd’, include other departments in your plan. When you show how you’ve considered the impacts to other departments, and/or worked with other departments to create the plan, you’re showing how much you value the entire organization, not just your department. Marketing really does touch just about every department, but some of the stronger connections are likely to be Branch Operations, Human Resources, Product Teams, Training, and Compliance. Touch base with them as you build your plan then let your leadership team see those potential impacts.

These tips are great for a collaborative, courageous leadership team. But some leaders may have their own agendas, which might even include how close to retirement they might be! If you find yourself in a tough situation, keep up these good business practices and you’ll be better for it in the long-term, even if your current plans aren’t approved.

So stand strong! Your plan has meat on those bones. Your decisions are based on data, case studies, member info or other research. You know what you are doing! Just remember to think about it from your leadership’s perspective before pitching it and you’ll be heading in the right direction.