It doesn’t matter how much you’ve prepared—even the strongest business cases will get some level of pushback. Whether it’s due to a lack of knowledge, a specific concern, a misperception or a hidden preference for another project, every objection has a reason.
When you’re prepared for the most common types of resistance and know how to address them, your presentation will go much more smoothly. Here are three of the most common objections to a business case, and suggestions for how to handle them.
Objection #1: “This is too good to be true.”
If you work in an organization where people frequently overpromise and under deliver, you’re likely to encounter this objection.
To prepare, take extra care in backing up your numbers, and have a subject-matter expert who can credibly speak to the figure you’ve listed and how his team arrived at that estimate.
You can also try what Tom Hopkins calls the “Feel, Felt, Found” strategy:
- “I understand how you feel.” This shows that you have heard the objection and that you can relate.
- “My research showed that other (companies, CIOs, city councils) initially felt this way.” With this statement, you are showing this objection is common—meaning the situation can change.
- “What they found, however, was that after doing ‘X,’ ‘Y’ happened.” “X” is what you want your stakeholder to do, and “Y” is something positive that will happen as a result of doing what you ask.
For example, if your CIO objects to the ROI you’ve presented, you can handle it this way:
“I understand, Mr. CIO. When I was compiling the numbers, I reviewed many other cases from companies that also implemented enterprise content management, and it seems many IT leaders initially had this same concern. What they found, however, was that after implementation, the positive ROI was immediate.”
Objection #2: “But you didn’t account for …”
If stakeholders are pointing out gaps in your business case, be honest and direct when you respond. If you haven’t considered the issue, say so. Offer to look into it and get back to them promptly.
If you believe the issue the stakeholder is raising isn’t critical, say so (politely, of course), and ask the group if they’d like more research. If others agree with you, they may step in to say so.
Objection #3: “There is no way we will ever get this done!”
Stakeholders may think you are being overly optimistic about when the project will be completed. If you have the support of those who will be doing the work, you can reply, “I’ve shared these timelines with IT, and they agree the installation and deployment will take no longer than six weeks.”
Again, you can also share information you’ve gathered from your vendor or from your reference calls to point out that your estimates are realistic.
The important thing is to handle all your objections and move on to the rest of your presentation. In fact, Daryl Spreiter, Senior Manager of Onboarding, Curriculum & Coaching at salesforce.com, suggests handling all objections with gratitude, because a stakeholder raising an objection is an opportunity to address it and move on.
Check out the Document Management Software Justification Toolkit and discover how other organizations like yours have successfully built the business case for document management!