There are two critical components to a strong business recommendation. In fact, I’m convinced now more than ever that any recommendation — be it from an agency, a consultant or internal resources — must have these two components.
The reason I’m sharing them with you today is a client for my consulting business called them out last week, complimenting me on the composition of a recommendation I’d made. They specifically said it was going to help them support the business recommendation internally, gaining executive level support and budget.
So what are the two critical components to a strong business recommendation? The Reasoning and The Resources Needed.
Business Recommendation Requirement: The Reasoning
If you make a recommendation to do anything — stay the course, change the course or destroy the course — you are going to have to explain why. On the surface, this makes perfect sense and is almost a given, right? However, you’d be surprised how many recommendations or strategy documents I’ve read before that say something like, “You should devote more money to social advertising and target your audience differently,” with nothing more than a presumption the client knows why. Do not assume. Spell out why you’re making the recommendation so that the person you’re recommending it to can clearly understand why and make the argument for the recommendation themselves.
To put it a different way: Would you take someone’s advice blindly? Then don’t expect your clients to.
Business Recommendation Requirement: The Resources Needed
No business recommendation is worth the paper it’s printed on if it’s never executed upon. In that case, it’s just another idea that got lost in the shuffle. The first step to making a recommendation come to fruition is clearly explaining what it will take to accomplish it in terms of staff, budget and other resources. If this critical component is not included in the business recommendation, the client just has an idea. They don’t have a plan. They don’t have a next step to take. Including the resources needed establishes expectations: This is what has to happen to make this come to life. Without it, everyone stares at each other, forgets about the project and moves on.
How to Remember to Include Them
Here’s the trick I use to make sure I always include these two critical components: When I write a recommendation document for a client, I typically open up a previous recommendation document to copy and paste the framework, then gut the content and fill in the necessary specifics.
Go to your last recommendation document right now. In the appropriate space in that document, type a heading for “The Reasoning” and another for “The Resources Needed.” If you have time, write a paragraph for that project, explaining both. Now use that document as the copy-paste resource to begin your next recommendation writing.
Even if you don’t fill out the details for that project, include those headings and you won’t forget them in your next effort.
What Else Do You Include?
Are there other imperatives you include in your business recommendations? I’d love to hear what your requirements are. Jump in the comments and share. If you have a chance to include my two ideas in a new recommendation, do so and then tell us how it went over. The comments are yours.