Three Tips for Making the Pitch: Selling Sustainability From Inside Corporate America


Recently, the WeinrebGroup aligned with Vox Global to produce the collaborative report, “Making the Pitch: Selling From Inside Corporate America which examines the reputation that sustainability has in a diverse group of major companies. The specific companies featured in the report findings included respondents from Novelis, DuPont, AT&T, McDonald’s, Nixon Peabody LLC, Hilton Worldwide, and EMC.

The representatives from these companies all dealt heavily with pitching sustainability plans and the subsequent implementation of these sustainable strategies in their respective companies. But despite their varying backgrounds, certain themes and patterns were revealed in their answers to the intensive survey conducted by the WeinrebGroup and Vox Global. Let’s check out the top three aspects of selling sustainability that these contenders commented on!

  1. Speaking Their Language: Oftentimes it is easier for an individual who is pitching a sustainability strategy to stick to the scientific terminology that they know so well rather than the business jargon that may be more foreign to them. But remember that context is vital when discussing sustainability in any situation. However, when pitching sustainability to a business it is essential that you put your points into more universally understandable terminology. As Linda Fisher of DuPont points out, “If you’re talking to a business or operations person, and you talk about productivity improvement, their eyes brighten up. They get excited. If you talk to them about making the same facility more sustainable, they might not get it. But what they are realizing more and more is that the two are really the same thing.” Just as the company will need to learn about sustainable practices, brush up on business theories to drive home your triple bottom line.
  2. Passion, Persistence, and Patience: Bob Langert, VP of Sustainability McDonalds, defines the three P’s of integrating sustainability as passion, persistence, and patience. The “passion” aspect of selling sustainability is aimed at the companies who are figuring out a strategy but are not sure how to analyze all aspects of sustainability. A company has to realize when they need an outside source, an expert source who not only has the passion for their sector of sustainability but also has the drive and persistence to see their client through to success. Having this expert advice will ground your arguments as to why a sustainability plan is essential in a given business. On the flip side, the three P’s are also important to implement along with sustainability. As Carolyn Kaplan of Nixon Peabody LLC sees it, recognizing the importance of sustainability to the firm’s operations and core business is how you gain credibility as an asset.
  3. Interpersonal Skills: This third point seems like a given, but sometimes interpersonal communication skills are overlooked when pitching a sustainability plan or merely the need for the integration of sustainability into a company’s bottom line. Leaders must collaborate with their colleagues to ensure that sustainability will extend beyond a single branch of the business and into its many facets. “Respondents said interpersonal and communication skills are the key to penetrating corporate silos and building strong internal networks,” reads the report.

To find out more download the full report, “Making the Pitch: Selling From Inside Corporate America,” here!