Fuel INjected IN-house: Anticipate and Articulate the ROR (Return on Risk)

To win more pitches, help clients deal with risks.

by Sam Harrison

“No one ever got fired for buying IBM.”

That was once the mantra of IT departments everywhere. Purchasing agents knew they could reduce their risks by going with IBM’s steady, proven products.

Of course, this practice resulted in years of boring computers and stale designs. Nevertheless, it provides a lesson for today’s in-house creatives when pitching fresh, exciting ideas.

Each time you present an idea, your internal clients sit across from you weighing risks. If rewards are higher than risks, chances are good for acceptance. If dangers exceed dividends, it’s likely a lost cause.

I’m not suggesting you offer safe, predictable concepts in order to assuage the fears of skittish decision makers. No way. Light up the room with bold, unique concepts.

But when planning your pitch, place yourself in the position of nervous decision makers. Step back and stare at your idea through their eyes. What makes it risky? How can those risks be reduced without watering-down the idea?

By anticipating the fears, uncertainties and doubts of decision makers, you can mold your pitch to shift risk-reward ratios. For example:

You anticipate the decision maker thinking:

“My boss is going to go ballistic over the cost of this idea these designers are showing me…”

So add this risk-reducing statement to your pitch:

“I know the numbers might be a hard sell when you give Brian the anticipated budget for this idea. So we’ve calculated the return on investment the company can expect…”

You anticipate the decision maker thinking:

“I’ll never be able to explain all the details of this idea to the board…”

So add this risk-reducing statement to your pitch:

“By the way, Elizabeth, we’ve create an eight-minute presentation – complete with video overview – for you to take to the board meeting…”

You anticipate the decision maker thinking:

“This idea is going to suck up weeks of my team’s time…”

So add this risk-reducing statement to your pitch:

“I know this looks like an overwhelming project,” William, but we’ll implement in stages and cheaply outsource much of the production work…”

Focus on risk-rewards ratios when preparing pitches, and you’ll better your win-lose ratio. Don’t weaken great ideas to reduce risks for decision makers. Instead, strengthen your presentations.

Sam Harrison is a speaker, workshop leader and writer on creativity-related topics. His latest book, IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers, was recently released by HOW Books. He is also the author of IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea, and Zing!: Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command.  Reach him at www.zingzone.com