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B2B Marketing - Gaining internal buy-in (June 2013)


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Article in June 2013 edition of B2B Marketing, quoting Steve Revill giving his top tips for securing internal buy-in.

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B2B Marketing - Gaining internal buy-in (June 2013)

  1. 1. JUNE 2013 B2B MARKETING MAGAZINE 29f reaching out to ademanding externalbusiness audience is tough,internal engagement andbuy-in can often prove aB2B marketer’s nemesis.It’s all very well having thenext ‘big idea’, but if the person holdingthe purse strings is a sceptic, marketerswill never get their activities off the groundsuccessfully. In 2013, top-level support andendorsement from internal stakeholders hasbecome more critical than ever.So why is gaining internal buy-in oftenconsidered so difficult a challenge? Whatare the kinds of things B2B marketers areseeking buy-in for exactly – and who arethey seeking it from? And, crucially, isthere a secret weapon for dealing with thiscontentious issue?Buy-in barriersGaining internal buy-in is not a newchallenge and remains something marketersare often accused of failing to tackle.This may be the reason why historicallythe marketing department has beenunsuccessful at aligning with otherbusiness functions.“Few people like surprises in business andsometimes marketers have been guilty ofengaging key internal stakeholders late or,worse still, not at all when seeking buy-infor major projects or change initiatives,”suggests Steve Revill, consulting partner atPositive Momentum.“Reactively engaging colleagues at the11th hour is rarely a recipe for success.It makes us look inefficient, disorganisedand isolated from our colleagues acrossthe business. Instead, we should adopta more proactive and sustainedapproach to strategically managing ourkey internal relationships.”Catherine Howard, head of private sectormarketing at Fujitsu, also highlights someof the reasons marketers have struggledto gain buy-in in the past but suggeststhis is now an improving situation. Shesays: “The delivery of marketing activitiestypically requires money to be spent. Withmost private sector organisations, theirmain goal is to grow in terms of increasingrevenue and, in turn, profit. And thereinlies the conflict. Sometimes, internalbusiness stakeholders can’t see past the‘spending money’ that comes with deliveringmarketing activities. Over recent years, Imarketing excellence director at BrandLearning, advises: “In the first instance, theyshould ask themselves whether or not theproblem sits at their own door. Is it clearthat they connect with the business as awhole and with the agenda of the boardand senior colleagues? If not, this needs tobe fixed.”She continues: “To build influenceinternally, marketers need to ensure theyspeak the language of their peers and theydemonstrate how their plans deliver on thecommercial objectives of the business.”Internal targetsWhen it comes to who B2B marketerstypically try to gain buy-in from, boardmembers and the C-suite are primarycandidates. Justine Arthur, head ofcommunications and campaigns at BTExpedite Fresca, and winner of B2BMarketer of the Year 2012, offers thisadvice for reaching out to the board inorder to encourage endorsement. She says:“Demonstrate that a specific marketingactivity contributed to a sale, whether that’sto an existing customer or new one – plus,achieve (and if possible exceed) what youcommitted to deliver on time and on budget.I also like to involve as many of the board asis relevant during the early planning stageof a campaign, and if it’s an event, makesure their diaries are blocked out well inadvance so they are able to attend and cansee for themselves the return on investmentand what an impact marketing is having. Interms of nurturing them, it’s important tokeep them informed, either ensuring you geta slot on the quarterly senior managementmeeting or informally over coffee or a shortphone call from time to time.”Howard’s top tip to getting on the radarof board members in order to win theirsupport for a campaign or investment is todemonstrate a clear ROI from the outset.She says: “Within Fujitsu, we have a processin place where we complete a business casethat outlines what the marketing programmeis, what the expected ROI is in terms of newsales leads to be generated and expectedrevenue plus it outlines which businessdirectors and sales directors have alreadysigned up to supporting the programme.This process really helps in terms ofillustrating how marketing spend can deliverresults for the organisation.”As well as board members, the financedirector and sales department, in particular,INTERNAL BUY-INGaining internal buy-in remains one ofB2B marketers’ greatest challenges.Victoria Clarke investigates the needfor support from internal stakeholdersand, crucially, how to get itIGETTINGLIGHTGREENTHEhave seen this change as CMOs take on amore strategic role in the business.”Investment and endorsementOne such change initiative where B2Bmarketers are seeking the thumbs upto invest is marketing automation. Inits 2012 State of Demand GenerationReport, analyst firm SiriusDecisionspredicted marketing automation adoptionto increase by 50 per cent. However, whilemarketers may understand the benefitsof marketing automation, persuading thewider organisation to come on board – andpotentially part with a large amount of theirbudget – is another matter.Head of marketing at Neolane, MartinSmith, points out: “One problem marketersface in seeking buy-in from top managementand stakeholders is that, typically, theyhave an unfair reputation for not beingable to quantify the return on investmentfrom their marketing campaigns. Thiscan make it difficult to prove the addedbenefits technology investments, such as inmarketing automation, will make.“Top management and stakeholdersare very open to the possibilities oftechnology, and able to understand theconcepts of marketing automation andhow it can improve demand generation,lead management and measurement. Butinvesting in marketing automation isn’ta cheap option and must be properlyevaluated and presented in a solid businesscase proposal.”Social media, video and mobile marketingare other key areas for potential marketinginvestment and, as in the case of marketingautomation, something many B2B marketersare keen to exploit. However, despite thefact social media, for example, has beenaround a while, it still presents manyboard members and internal stakeholderswith an element of the unknown and thisconsequently leads to huge resistance.As a result, these stakeholders oftendemand more justification for investmentand upfront proof of a healthy ROI. InB2B Marketing’s 2013 Social MediaBenchmark Report, recipients cited theirbiggest challenge in social media as ‘provingROI’ (25 per cent) and ‘gaining internalbuy-in’ (19 per cent) – second only to‘engaging the target audience’ (27per cent).So what can marketers do if theyencounter internal resistance? Linda Miller,
  2. 2. 30 B2B MARKETING MAGAZINE JUNE 2013 b2bmarketing.netare key targets B2B marketers should bereaching out to with a solid argument andsound business case in order to help aligncommon objectives and win buy-in.“Sales colleagues are definitely amarketer’s greatest ally and can really actas advocates for you, particularly if you candemonstrate clear ROI that benefits bothparties. The other department essential asan ally is finance. If the CFO can supportyou in decisions and understands how themarketing spend delivers value for theorganisation then it is much easier forthe rest of the board to understand,”advises Howard.Smith meanwhile highlights a coupleof less obvious but equally valuableallies marketers would be wise not toforget. “Customer service is another clearbeneficiary, since marketing automationallows customer interactions andtransactions to be tracked in real-time,”he says. “When they have access to thatdata, customer service can very quicklygrasp a view of the company’s up-to-daterelationship with the customer.“Procurement can [also] be a beneficiary,in that demand for products can be betterforecast when a pipeline and timescale forpossible customer orders can be predicted.This helps avoid under ordering andstock-outs, while reducing the risk of overordering and having costly stock sitting idleon shelves.” Interestingly, Arthur reminds marketersnot to overlook less senior colleagues whenit comes to seeking buy-in. She reveals oneof her key tactics to securing buy-in is:“knowing which team members from eachof the sales and product teams my salesdirector and product director trust andrespect. If I gain input from key membersof their teams first, tweak and refine ifnecessary, achieving buy-in on a newproposition from these two directors isso much easier, and then even morestraightforward if it needs approval from thewider board.”Engaging colleagues needs to be thedriver for any marketing activity or initiativein order to prove marketing’s worth andhelp align common business objectives. Justas marketers should consider the painpointsand language of their external audience,they shouldn’t overlook these factors whenreaching out to board members and otherinternal stakeholders. A persuasive argumentusing common definitions and a sharp focuson revenue is the recipe to buy-in success –get these tactics nailed, and the board willturn out to be your biggest advocates.INTERNAL BUY-INTop tips forinternal buy-inHelp achieve that all-important endorsementwith this three-step plan bySteve Revill, consultingpartner at PositiveMomentumWho? – Map out your key internalstakeholders. Not just the departmentaland functional heads, but their keyteam members and influencers.What? – Spend time every weekbuilding a deeper understanding oftheir key business issues. What’s hotfor them at the moment? How can youhelp with them? What parts of yourteam’s work are of interest to them?Which parts do you need their supportfor to be successful? Be genuinelyinterested and curious.How? – Use this knowledge acrossyour team to map out an internalcommunications plan to proactivelymanage the relationships. Considera range of touchpoints from one-to-one meetings and attendance at teammeetings through to email updatesand board papers. Make sure anycommunication is tailored to thatparticular stakeholder’s preferences(style, content and channel).CATHERINE HOWARDHEAD OF PRIVATE SECTORMARKETINGFUJITSU“Sometimes, internalbusiness stakeholderscan’t see past the‘spending money’ thatcomes with deliveringmarketing activities”