Selling Your Business Case – Closing the Deal…

C-level tablefacility-management-consulting-consultant-cmms-facilities-training-education-ifma-fm360-rimerAs we discussed in FM360’s previous article, The In-Your-Face Business Case , it is one thing to assemble your business case; it is another to sell it…

Selling your business case (or any other proposal to management) starts long before you enter the meeting room to present your case.  “Selling” is an on-going, active effort on your part as the facility manager/director.  In fact selling the value of the facility team and its members is one of the primary jobs of a facility manager/director – it’s also partly the responsibility of the facility team members.  (Read More Than Glorified Janitors – Selling the Value of the Facility Team.)  This selling of the Facility Department and the value it provides to the organization is necessary to grease the skids and to increase probability of getting your request approved.  We will talk more about managing relationships and related skills in FM360’s next article, Wanna Win, Gotta Play – Politics, a Necessary Part of Facility Management and in our upcoming online training courses, FM Leadership Series

When it comes to selling, you need to know your customer.  In this case, the customer could be upper management, executives, department managers, or other key stakeholders – essentially those that control the purse strings and those that benefit from the business case (whether they realize that or not; it’s your job to show them.)  This requires you to know the business drivers of the organization and its current state (e.g. growing, declining, uncertainty, etc.).  Also, know who will be at the meeting and what their respective political motivators are, so that you can present your case in the appropriate light, leveraging those motivators.  It gets tricky when some of those individual motivators are in conflict to each other; which leads to the next point.

Consider the Winners and the Losers of your proposal.  Who could be allies for getting approval – they gain some benefit by its approval; and who could potentially be negatively affected by your request and possibly derail your business case.  Solicit input and support from the possible allies, in hopes of getting their vote ahead of the meeting; in fact, they may even be a good advocate for your case and could help present the need.  For example, perhaps a department is expanding, requiring a restack of their space.  The HVAC equipment supporting that space is outdated and under-sized for the increased load, necessitating a costly replacement.  Assuming the department head has good political capital and their growth is indeed approved to occur, they could be the one that leads the charge in selling your business case.  At that point, you are there as a partner trying to support this customer’s (your ally) growth.

With respect to the potential “Losers”, do what you can to understand how they would see your business case as a loss or threat to them.  Perhaps, they are competing for the same budget dollars.  See if there is a compromise, some means to make this a “Win-Win” situation.  Should you not find that common ground; then you need to identify the possible counter-arguments that may be proposed, punching holes in your business case.  Harden your proposal to withstand those attacks.  In some cases, you may even list the potential negative impacts and your proposed resolution or reason for accepting the negative situation directly in your business case or in your presentation.  Be careful and diligent in your reasoning; you may want to bounce your ideas off of other trusted managers as part of preparation.

I also recommend you meet with finance personnel to discuss the financial merits of your proposal and to confirm any assumptions used, such as Internal Rate of Return, payback criteria, average burdened and revenue rates per employee, etc.  Ideally, you discuss your proposal with the manager/executive that will represent the Finance Department in the meeting.  Thus, when the CEO or key decision maker in the room looks over to the financial representative and asks their thoughts on  your numbers, they respond stating that the two of you have met and reviewed the business case and the financials are solid (try not to do your victory dance at this point…)

Lastly, as you present the “In-Your-Face” business case, you need to respectfully command the room.  Maintain their attention.  Speak their language.  Do not get technical or lost in the weeds.  Keep it at their level – this ties back to knowing your audience and what matters to them.  When you hit some of those individual political motivators, make eye contact with that person.  Nod in agreement with them.

Read your audience – who is engaged, who is in agreement (nodding on your part helps), and who has tuned out.  Keep an eye on the potential “losers” you identified.  Are they fidgeting?  Writing notes frantically?  Looking through your business case trying to find a chink in your armor?  Or are they paying attention and in seeming agreement?

Do your best to answer their questions before they ask them; then be ready for questions and comments.  (By the way, you want some questions or comments, because that means they care about what you presented and paid attention.)  This is where you can be most vulnerable, because you could be thrown a curve ball or asked a difficult question.  Maintain confidence.  It’s okay to say that you “don’t know, but will get an answer back to them” by a specified date.

As with every meeting, there are two questions you need to ask yourself – “What do I want out of the meeting?” and “What value am I bringing to the meeting?”  You should have already answered the latter question in your presentation.  So, now it’s the moment of truth – seek their approval.  Try to leave with a response, even if qualified.  Also, you want definitive next steps whether it is getting more information, submitting the purchase request for signature, etc.  Take the momentum out of the meeting and keep moving forward.  Then you need to execute well and deliver on the promises you made in your proposal.

One last note is that if you are not comfortable with presenting, then I encourage you to take a presentation skills class, practice, join Toastmasters, and/or present to colleagues – something that will provide a safe environment and provide constructive feedback.  Remember 93% of what you communicate will be in your body language and tone, so you can make or break your business case all in how you present it – be positive, confident, and engaging – and SELL IT!

Visit to read other facility related articles.  Additionally, you may be interested in FM360’s FM Leadership online education series  that will address many of the suggestions discussed in this article.  To learn more, see FM360’s online training offerings.  Sign-up for FM360’s Newsletter to receive updates on related articles and online training.

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