You are SO excited about your going green project idea and want to share it with your boss! You’re more than willing to put in extra hours to get it done outside of your job description. You see the value to your organization and to the planet of taking action – not to mention to you and your colleagues and the customers you serve.
There’s just one catch.
In order to get your project considered and approved, you have to submit it and get it approved– especially if you’re not on the exec team at work.
In the past three blogs, I’ve addressed some steps to lay the groundwork for this, including building your reputation, identifying your boss’ goals, and helping her/him solve existing problems.
These steps are important because they help grow goodwill and trust, and strengthen the relationship you have with your direct manager, which is key if you want him/her to consider a project that’s not part of your job description. Be sure to review the articles and see if you’re taking the recommended actions already.
Today, it’s time to prepare that pitch to make sure your project gets considered.
Most of us think we only need a pitch when we’re selling to customers or clients, or selling ourselves, in the case of a job hunt.
You’re selling the idea of going green or environmental sustainability to your colleagues and, if you’re not in management, you’d better be prepared to make the case for it. Even if you are in management, you still have to make the case since there are competing priorities, and limited time and budget.
So you need to be prepared with a pitch.
Because many – and I’m sure that includes some in your organization - still believe that going green – or environmental sustainability – is at odds with making a profit.
Although this is changing, many see sustainability or going green as a ‘nice to have’ and miss the boat on using it to identify new service offerings, build brand loyalty, and attract new customers.
So you’ll need to make the business case for your project, figure out the ROI and benefits, then get your elevator pitch ready. If you’re not sure how to calculate your ROI, check out this article with the steps to do it.
As I’m sure you know, an elevator pitch is not just a sales pitch and it also often does not occur in an elevator. It’s called an elevator pitch because it’s meant to be short, no longer than 3 minutes, which is the typical amount of time you’d have to converse in an elevator (at least in NYC – in DC, where I live, it’s likely to be a minute or less!).
The perfect elevator pitch is crafted to inform people and even more importantly, get them motivated to help you make your impact project a reality!!
Think of it - you’re at a party and you ask someone, “What do you do for a living?” Do you want to hear that they sit in a room reviewing lab results all day or that they think they may have found a cure for cancer?
You want to be intrigued. That’s the effect your elevator pitch should have. Here are five tips for preparing your going green, aka environmental sustainability, elevator pitch to inspire your colleagues and executive management to support your proposal:
1. The Hook!
Start with an idea that captures their imagination, such as a surprising statistic about your building or company’s energy consumption or an unexpected statement that grabs their attention and engages them in the solution you are proposing. For example – did you know that we are spending $100,000 on printer paper a year and we could cut that in half in six months or less?
2. Tell Them WHY Before WHAT
It’s easy to pitch a going green project – that’s the “what.” But the trick is to tell them “why.” Why is your environmental sustainability project important? Why should they get on board? For example, will your project help them meet or exceed their annual goals more quickly? Will it save money and enable them to redirect precious resources towards their pet project? What is their hot button and how can you align the “why” of your project to their sore spot?
3. Share a Story
Although you’ve only have three minutes, adding a story – a real life example of a sustainability success that involved colleagues or a company they know and respect – will make your pitch more interesting, personal and captivating. So – “Last year’s recycling challenge, which involved 90% of staff on all four floors, led to us to re-evaluate the composition of our waste and ultimately we were able to save 50% of our trash hauling fees. We have a plan for reducing it by 10% more, this year, by implementing a composting program.”
4. Now what…?
A great elevator pitch is only as good as its call to action. Be specific; tell them, in detail, what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do it. Do you need approval or funds to implement your proposed composting program? Do you need them to be a vocal and enthusiastic champion for reducing their department’s paper use?
5. Don’t Wing It!
Since you will only have a few short minutes, limit your pitch to the essentials. Once you’ve figured out what to say and how to say it in the most effective way, there is no added value in novelty and practice makes perfect, so make sure to practice either on your own or make it an exercise with a colleague to come up with elevator pitches for your project and then practice them with each other!
A couple more thoughts…
You’ll want to think about the best time to share your pitch. Does your boss prefer informal chats while grabbing a coffee? Is a formal meeting better? Does she/he prefer to have some info ahead of time?
If you’ve pitched your boss before, you’ll have a good idea of what works best. If not, see what others are doing. When in doubt, start with a more casual conversation then you can segue into a more detailed meeting when the time is right. Be sure to have a short description of the project, including the ROI and benefits, ready to send before you start the conversation. If your boss is interested, you’ll want to provide more info right away!
If you are using this strategy and the steps above, we’d love to hear about it!
In the next blog, I’ll be digging deeper into telling the story of your project in order to get the best reaction and response. Be sure to check back here next week!
In the meantime, you may want to download our free ’51 Ways To Make An Impact When Not In Charge’, which will help you position yourself to implement an impact project, and get started on some of these today!