How to Pitch to C-Suite

‘It’s not the right time’.

‘I’d need to run this past…’

‘It’s food for thought.’


These are familiar responses to anyone who has pitched an idea to management. If you’re finding them triggering, I apologise, but hang in there: there’s light at the end of this tunnel.

Preparing a presentation for C-suite takes effort. The few minutes you have to present it are hardly reflective of the time and effort that’s gone into it. To have it summarily dismissed can be demoralising and – if it actually has merit – cost the organisation. So why is the answer so often ‘no’?

Yes, it does seem that the job of C-suite is to not spend any money. But the fault isn’t always theirs. Pitching to management is a very particular task, and it has to be done right.

There are two main ingredients to a successful pitch: soft skills and data. Let’s dive into each.

Develop your presentation skills

Minutes. That’s all you have to convince management of the merits of your project you’ve spent days putting together. Maybe you have half an hour booked – plan to speak for no more than ten minutes. Guaranteed, management will cut into your time with questions and discussion, so get your points across right away. Here are some key presentation skills you need to adopt:

  • Concision – make your point clearly and concisely. A big mistake pitchers make is overstuffing their presentation with unnecessary facts and statistics. Pick several pieces of data that best support your idea and let them do the talking. Don’t diminish their impact with lots of superfluous information. In this case, more is certainly not better.

  • Anticipation – why will management say ‘no’? You must ask yourself this question before going in. Understand the concerns C-suite will have and the areas of your project they’ll see as obstacles. Anticipating them gives you time to prepare responses. Nothing kills the deal quite like, ‘I’ll have to get back to you on that.’

  • Clarity – storytelling can be engaging, but you simply don’t have time when you only have minutes. Learn to get the information across efficiently. Every sentence you speak must be relevant to management, either detailing the benefits that would appeal to them or neutralising the problems they’ll potentially pick up on.

Arm yourself with the right data

Rejection isn’t always because the project doesn’t have merit. Often, it’s simply because you can’t access the data you need that will convince C-suite that it’s worthwhile. Effective pitching involves the right mixture of soft skills and cold, objective figures.

Dashboards like ProcureTRAK’s Project Charters clearly lay out the information that management is most concerned with. At a glance, they’ll see:

  • The complexity of the project, based on a range of factors
  • The level of stakeholder engagement
  • Annual and FY savings
  • Length of time to complete, including days to consult stakeholders and days needed to complete the actual project

This dashboard also gives another crucial piece of information. A lot of the time, the answer isn’t quite ‘no’, but ‘I’ll have to consult…’ or ‘let me think about it’. To combat the stalling, Project Charters gives a dollar amount of lost savings for every day the project is delayed. This is precisely the information and motivation C-suite needs to see the merit in your idea.

Learn the skills behind successful C-suite pitching

With our long history in procurement consultancy, we know exactly what management wants and needs to know in order for a project to be considered. Take advantage of our knowledge and experience and get the skills necessary to take your pitching to the required level.