Obtaining sponsorship and resources to implement sales/ marketing automation
Interesting the Executive Suite for Marketing Automation
Obtaining sponsorship and resources to implement (or replace) a marketing automation solution is no
easy task. Your biggest challenge will always be in the executive suite. Depending on the structure of
your company, your peers may need convincing as well. A troubled economic environment usually
means a harder sell.
These are some of the typical challenges:
• Buy-in from and alignment with the sales organization, and possibly with other departments that
may be involved peripherally, e.g., Finance and IT.
• Competition from other initiatives designed to reduce costs or increase revenue.
• Skepticism about the value marketing automation.
• Lack of understanding about marketing automation.
• Lip service and passive-aggressive behaviors intended to undermine you or your initiative.
If you are NOT currently running demand generation processes manually (or using an existing marketing
automation you want to replace), you may have a difficult time convincing your management that you
have the knowledge and skills to implement a new platform successfully. Think about this carefully
before approaching the executive suite. Savvy managers generally understand that process mastery is the
most important prerequisite for automating any business function or task.
Although there is no guarantee of success when you pitch this kind of transformation, there are things you
can do to increase the approval probability. It’s not much different than working a qualified lead.
1. Learn as much as possible about the decision-makers and influencers. You need to know and
understand your audience. What makes them tick? What are their agendas? Is there competition for
resources? Seek out those individuals and solicit their feedback. The objective is to lay the groundwork
for your proposal by identifying potential obstructionists and converting them to allies (or at least
neutralizing them). Sometimes you simply need to throw people a bone to get them on your side.
2. Don’t assume knowledge or familiarity. If you are dealing with more than one person AND if you
aren’t sure about anyone’s level of marketing automation expertise, prepare a “dummies”-level
presentation that explains the concepts, terminology, business benefits, and so forth. You don’t
necessarily need to use every slide. Test understanding during a presentation to ensure you’re a not boring
or otherwise insulting the intelligence of your audience. Skip over what seems to be redundant, but offer
copies of the full presentation for the benefit of those who pretend they know everything.
3. Have your numbers ready. Yes, lots of valuable intangibles accrue to intelligent users of marketing
automation. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be about numbers pertaining to revenue and costs.
Make sure you include:
○ initial implementation investment (money and people)
○ time required for setup, training and maintenance
○ resources required to produce content on an ongoing basis
○ anticipated measurable results and when they’ll be realized
4. Be candid about risks. You need to be clear about risks and compensating mitigation strategies. Often
the difference between heroes and scapegoats is the degree to which expectations were set appropriately.
Risk-free projects do not exist, and you need to be prepared before answering questions such as “Can you
guarantee results?” Even more to the point: Some risks lie invariably with decision-makers and sponsors
themselves. Ensure that THEY understand that their ownership of the initiative can mean the difference
between success and failure, especially in the realm of change management.
5. Be clear about how you’ll measure progress and success. The era of “we’ll try it and see how it
goes” is over. Unless your decision-maker is a family member, chances are that you’ll be held
accountable for proving, in factual terms, your success. Be specific about metrics that will support
objectives, thresholds, and so forth. Remember that an increase in sales revenue probably has more
significance for executives than the number of marketing-qualified leads in the funnel.
6. Keep quick wins and long term goals separate. People who have short attention spans or a need for
immediate gratification need to perceive success early. Don’t mix these short term objectives with longer
term, more strategic goals.
7. Use case studies and referrals to bolster your case. Nothing is quite as powerful as documented
success, especially if decision-makers can communicate directly with peer-level executives who have
been down the same road.
Finally and perhaps equally important: Passion and commitment matter a lot. You may not be able to lock
down every detail or answer every question, but smart executives know to trust motivation and focus.