A few weeks ago, I attended a luncheon where Danesh De Silva, Vice President of Marketing at Orametrix, presented a great case study on how he had used marketing automation technology to transform his company’s marketing operations and the ROI he’s gotten. When Dan was finished with his story, one of the people at my table shook his head sadly.
“He’s so right. I know that I could do great things if I just had the right tools. But how do I ‘sell’ marketing automation to my boss?”
It’s a common question. A marketing director or even vice president of marketing becomes convinced of the value of adding a distributed marketing automation solution to their operation, but they fear the inevitable question about why the company should spend the money for the technology.
So I told him how our company helps marketers learn how to get a marketing automation budget approved, with a rock-solid business case, and what suggestions we give our clients about how to get internal support for marketing automation. He said, “You ought to write that up, and hand it out with every sales pitch.” I haven’t done that yet, but here are the five suggestions I made to him on how to sell marketing automation to nearly any boss.
Start by Identifying Key Pain Points
What is it about your marketing operations that cause your top management the most pain? When you answer, talk business, not marketing. By that I mean focusing on business goals, not marketing goals, and using the vocabulary that top management is most comfortable with.
For example, instead of talking about how marketing automation could help you double the number of impressions without expanding your budget, talk about the “lift” in sales-qualified leads. Instead of talking about simply getting your message to your market faster, focus on the increased revenue available by automating the renewal and customer retention cycles, how you can improve the cross-sell and up-sell process without additional staff, and how the system will help you with account rounding.
Even if you come prepared with a detailed ROI analysis – and you should –expect skepticism. Nearly every boss has been burned by a major IT purchase that went wrong, so you’ll need to be able to answer specific questions with answers that are based on facts and informed analysis.
Talk About Facts & Numbers, Not Emotions
If you know a marketer who started the year 2012 without a requirement that they meet more stringent revenue goals with fewer resources, please introduce me, because I don’t know any. Most of us are feeling pretty overwhelmed, but bursting into tears and saying theatrically, “I don’t see how I’m going to get everything done this year without marketing automation” probably isn’t the best way to approach the boss. So do your research, stay calm, and present the boss with a rational proposal built on a solid business case.
The vendor you’re working with should be able to help, with case studies, benchmarks, and other data that will help you quantify the benefits of a distributed marketing automation solution. Ask them how to get a marketing automation budget approved, and expect them to deliver materials you can use internally to educate, inform, and build support for your distributed marketing automation initiative.
You will also want to show return on investment (ROI). Time and resources are the best place to start. What will a distributed marketing automation solution allow you to do that you can’t do now? Can you reduce headcount without affecting results? Support more divisions, independent sales agents, or more marketing initiatives without additional people? Deliver more marketing messages to more prospective customers?
It’s fairly simple to run some quick time studies to see how many hours per day are spent on tasks that marketing automation can replace or reduce. This is another area where your vendor can help.
Don’t forget to be truthful about the amount of time you will need to invest in training, setup and deployment, and don’t forget to provide the boss with a full picture. If the IT department will be involved, say so. If you’re going with a SaaS solution where the technology resides off-site, and IT doesn’t need to be involved, say that, too.
Be Prepared with New Goals & KPIs
One of the most common things that happen as marketers implement a successful marketing automation project is that the boss asks for “stretch” targets and goals that will be put in place after the system is up and running. So if you start your marketing automation purchase campaign with broader goals and raised targets, you’re way ahead of the game.
Don’t know how to project a 1-3 year impact for marketing automation? Ask your vendor for help – or enlist the help of an MBA intern or hire a consultant for a few hours.
One of the biggest benefits of multi-channel distributed marketing automation is the improved tracking and reporting functions, so lean on the vendor for help identifying new goals or changes to existing ones. Vendors like my employer, Distribion, work with clients every single day and we understand how marketing automation affects marketing departments. We’d be happy to help.
Show How Marketing Automation Expands Your Reach
This is where it’s time to talk marketing, not just business. Many top executives don’t have a clue what lead nurturing, right-time marketing, or multi-part, multi-channel campaigns are – let alone why they matter. So show them what new activities you can harness to deliver results once you have the technology to support them.
Sales training, field and local sales opt-in for campaigns, lowered costs for collateral and printing, and reduced compliance costs are just a few of the benefits of a distributed marketing automation solution that won’t be obvious to management until you tell them. Take the opportunity to explain it and provide benchmarks from companies like yours that have implemented a similar solution from the vendor you’ve selected.
Be Prepared for Objections
No matter how thorough your business case is, there will be objections. Here are four questions you should be prepared to answer.
- How much time will be taken away from other responsibilities as you prepare for and deploy the software? Will any additional resources be needed – short or long term – to manage the system?
- Will you need resources from other departments (such as IT) to implement the new system?
- How long will it take for your team to get trained and fully ramped up? (What the boss really wants to know when she asks this question is, “How soon will I start seeing those time-savings you mentioned?”)
- What kind of hidden costs are there in deploying this solution? (Will consulting, maintenance, or change orders be coming down the line? How will these affect your projected results?)
Be prepared to address these objectives with facts and numbers. One way to make it easier is to review case studies like the ones contained in this PDF, which shows how six insurance companies measured the success of their distributed marketing automation initiatives. Another is to start the process with a pilot program that has a low cost of entry and builds the business case for you in a short time period, typically no more than 60 days.