This article was transcribed from a talk from Customer Marketing Alliance’s Las Vegas Event in 2023. If you have a membership, get instant access to the whole talk here.
Who hasn’t had a hard time purchasing technology to support your work and the data you use? What are a couple of the things that you have met resistance with? It’s things like security, price, integrations, budget. It’s people to manage the tech, and the biggest one - Buy-in analysis paralysis.
One of the biggest struggles at the moment is that you can't get everyone to align on what the actual value of your team is, and what the business impact is going to be.
It’s a common experience that you’ll get leaders saying things like “We're not saying no, we're just saying not right now”, or “Next quarter, we'll reassess the budget”. You get stuck in this limbo of ‘not right now’.
On top of this, you’re having to manage leaders asking you things like:
- Where do we start?
- What does your work mean to sales? How are they going to adopt this?
- What's your work going to mean to customer success?
- What is the training that comes with it?
You’re inundated with a whole history of blockages and siloing, so it’s no wonder that so many fall into a state of paralysis, where your main priority becomes risk reduction, and you end up doing nothing.
The problem with data collection and storage never gets solved. We just become very good at manually doing these things.
All this to say, it doesn’t matter what software you buy, but you need to have something that supports the scaling of your programs.
The challenge of internal communication and understanding
I’ll begin this section with a disclaimer: technology is not pixie dust. It does not solve your problems. You can't take technology and fix bad programs. What you can use technology to do is scale your good ones.
We're going to focus on internal alignment to help you buy tools, because I struggled for years.
A few years ago, I worked at a company that said all the right things to my request to get a holistic system for Voice of the Customer. They said, “We get it. You’re a priority”.
At that time, there was a large Salesforce integration that was in the works, so they said “We’ll build what you need in-house. We will make all of your advocacy automation happen in Salesforce.”
In a year and a half, we got to something manageable. But it was all still just reactive.
When I expressed the need for this system to be something holistic rather than reactive, the response was “We know what you want, we just don't know how to build that”.
The solution they came up with was to run an internal audit, and have a specialty company build what we needed into Salesforce - the audit cost more than the tool I was looking to buy. The audit cost about 50k, and the tool at that time was 35k.
It’s this kind of problem that I want to help you avoid. When you get this resistance to bringing technology on board, it handicaps the potential of your teams.
Steps to buying the technology you need
After a lot of trial and error throughout the year, I can safely say that, I finally understand how to get buy-in for this kind of technology, and there are a few fundamental components I wouldn’t do it without. So I’m going to take you through some of the important steps right now:
Business impact and emotional impact
First, we have to calculate the business impact. This is a classic and obvious step toward proving value. But it's not just about the business impact - we get hyper-focused on what we know that moves the needle, but stopping at step one isn’t enough.
You also want to deliver that emotional impact. Just like our customers, our executives, and those people that we have to bring on board to buy into our vision, some of them relate to the business impact and some relate to the emotional impact.
Use comparisons and alternatives
To present the emotional and business impact of this technology, compare it to the alternative.
Take the time to calculate how long it actually takes to do some of these more basic tasks. For example, how long does it take to get a reference? From the reference coming in, conversing with internals, getting back to the customer, etc. How many back-and-forths does one reference take?
Then do a cost analysis on that effort, and how that fits inside your company.
Build credibility with use cases
One of the best ways to help support your argument is to show what other companies like you have done by changing their programs, and how doing so can become a key turning point of success for them.
Lastly, demonstrate the impact tangibly. This is where economic impact reports come in. They’re there to really paint a clear picture of your successes which can be shared around to others.
Current state of affairs
Everybody wants more advocates, right? Sales want more, marketing wants more. They want better case studies, more diverse case studies, the lot.
But because everybody wants more, what starts happening? They start to go around us, and communication is lost - one hand doesn’t talk to the next. When this happens, we miss how many things we asking of a single customer. And, we won’t be the only vendor’s vying for this customers attention either.
The result of this is that customers will get fatigue. They’ll start to turn off, they’ll stop answering emails, and they'll going dark.
That effort isn't just on the customer, this kind of fatigue also happens internally. And we get churn.
Key tips and tricks to get internal attention
So organizational alignment, how do we do this?
- Look at your high-level business goals.
- Align to your mission, vision and values of your company.
If you want people to pay attention, you’re going to have to align your language with these aims. Sell to your sales team, to your product team, to any cross-functional team that will benefit from your work. It’s important to also sell internally to your own marketing department too.
So, how do you approach these conversations? Ask some of the following questions:
- What do you think the company importance is for customer acquisition?
- What’s the employee retention?
- What do you think our current score?
- How are we doing on our customer acquisition costs?
Get their assessment. Now that you have these answers, identify where there’s a gap to fill.
The most important thing to do next, is to express what the impact is of doing nothing. If we do nothing, things will continue to stay where we are. So where are we going to go when we need to meet our business goals? How are we going to go that?
Could the sales team grow at 40% if you didn't add budget, marketing, advertising, and headcount? Is it possible to continue to scale without that? No, of course it's not.
So the impact of doing nothing is a negative impact. You are going to cap out after after a certain amount of success.
Showing impact and ROI
Companies that grow the fastest and have the best profit margins, are the ones who’ve invested in customer marketing. That's why our jobs exist, because living through global events like COVID, revealed that companies couldn’t just rely on Sales anymore.
In 2023 Customer Marketing was the fastest growing B2B career period. The only thing that outranked it was DEI, diversity, equity inclusion, and that was mostly in B2C companies. These jobs blew up out of nowhere because we realized we had to sell internally.
A lot of people don't have the muscle memory to do that yet, though, so they're not getting the immediate results that they're looking for.
Customer marketing roles in particular are a long tail effort. We've also seen a lot of churn the first time times get tough, right? But we can teach our CMOs - we can teach up, not just down, why we are so valuable.
One of the best ways to do this, is to go outside the source, don't just provide stuff that your competitor company provides - Find those third party sources, those analysts, that can validate.