Learning & Development

How to Sell Your L&D Programs to the C-Suite (Part 2)

[The first part of this article appeared in the previous issue.]

Show the C-Suite the Money and Benefits of the L&D Programs in Those Terms

At the end of the day, members of the C-suite want to make sure your learning and development (L&D) programs make sense financially for your organization. They will weigh the return on investment (ROI) of your program and determine whether it takes more money to develop and manage than they will see in increased productivity or sales. If it does, it’s not worth the investment of time or funds.


However, if your program yields a positive ROI (i.e., increased sales, increased rates of productivity), members of the C-suite are more likely to consider it. If you want your L&D program to get approved quickly, prepare this information for the C-suite, and don’t wait for them to do it—they already have a lot to do, and your program is not yet at the top of the list. If you need to, have someone else help you crunch the numbers and determine your program’s value.

Include a Subset of Executives in on the Needs Assessment and the Design Process

Once you identify who your key stakeholders are for your L&D program, involve them in the development of your program. Not only will you gain their buy-in and support but you’ll also gain their valuable insight. For example, have the head of marketing help you determine what training their team needs so you’re developing an L&D program that is relevant and necessary to the team’s needs. You should never attempt to create an L&D program in a silo when you’re trying to make it relevant to the overall goals of the organization. Not only will including executives in the process make your L&D program more compelling to the C-suite, it will also have a lot more power behind it when it’s already been approved and codeveloped by other top-level personnel across the organization.

Prepare Your Perfect Pitch

Once you’ve done all your homework and crunched all your numbers, don’t lose the opportunity to gain C-suite support for your L&D program by letting your official pitch fall flat. Once you have a date on the calendar to pitch your program to the C-suite, here’s what else you should do.

  • Have an executive stakeholder who helped you work on the program’s design hear your pitch first and provide you with valuable feedback.
  • Be prepared with numbers for objections and pushback. Think of things members of the C-suite might say during your pitch. They might say things like, “This isn’t really our top priority right now,” or questions like, “Is there a way to test this first?”
  • Tell a story about your program, and convey your excitement. Don’t simply show them numbers, although that is certainly important. Also, reassure them that you will stand by the L&D program, no matter what, and that you understand how it will work from the beginning stages through the long-term stages.

Overall, if you want to successfully sell your L&D programs to the C-suite, always consider their perspective, and do your homework to make a compelling business case they can’t refuse.