A Strategic Approach to “Selling” Marketing Automation Internally

A few weeks ago, I spoke with a marketing manager who was very excited about his plans to implement a lead management process and an enabling marketing automation (MA) solution at his company.  We met, devised a plan and agreed to a timeline to begin the engagement.  Two weeks later I received a phone call from him telling me his plans needed to be put on hold. The reason?  The executive team decided to focus their attention and budget on other “strategic” initiatives.

Unfortunately for many middle management marketers, this is a common occurrence.  The executive team just doesn’t see the corporate value that can be derived from investing in process and technology.  If you’ve hit this roadblock, don’t despair.  There is a way to get what you need to be successful.  By taking a C-level approach to process and automation, there is a good chance you will get upper management to put their stamp of approval on it.

Here are 5 thoughts on how to get the executive buy in for process and automation:

  1. Seek to understand management’s objectives. The first step is to understand the collective and individual goals of the executive team.  For example, if their focus is market share, and you are trying to convince them that MA will bring efficiency, you’ve missed THEIR point.  Understanding their drivers will help you present a case that meets their felt needs
  2. Create a financial case that lines up with their objectives (See What’s Worth More for data to help build the case).  If revenue is the main objective, make your case based on revenue.  If it’s market share, show how improved process will gain market share.  If it’s ROI show how improved metrics process can show and increase return on marketing spend.  Creating your case will take some work and time, but it’s well worth it.   The key is working backwards from the main objectives that are held dear to the executive team.
  3. Discuss, don’t present.  Let’s face it; no one wants to be sold to. Your executive team is no different.  Instead of pitching and convincing, enter into a discussion that starts with you asking questions of them, questions that seek to understand what they are looking to achieve.  Once you get those answers, you can transition by saying, “If I could show you how to meet those objectives efficiently and effectively, would you be interested in learning more?”  If they say “yes”, explain the financial case.
  4. Support your case with real live case studies.  Before you get a chance to discuss, find real life examples of how similar companies achieved what you’re hoping to achieve.  This will help you answer the potential question, “This all sounds good in theory.  How do you know it will work?”
  5. Be ready if they say yes.  If they give the green light, you’ll want to be ready to move forward.  At best, you should have your high level plan ready, an overview of the next steps, timeframes and required resources.

Will following this path guarantee that you’ll get the go ahead? No.  But often it will.  If it doesn’t, don’t give up.  Continue to collect data to further build your case so that when the time is right, you’ll be ready to move.

About the Author

Jay HidalgoJay Hidalgo: Jay is President of The Annuitas Group and has 20 years of expertise in developing and building market research, direct response, database development and lead management programs for regional mid-market businesses and national corporations. He has been a frequent speaker at various conferences and seminars about lead generation and lead management and is recognized as a thought leader in the industry.  In 2010 and 2009, he was included in SLMA’s 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management. Prior to The Annuitas Group, he was managing partner at Hidalgo & DeVries a marketing research & strategy firm.

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