You are totally stoked to implement a new software application. You have seen the demos, read the ebooks, watched the case studies, and you are convinced that this new technology is going to make a huge impact on your business. It’s a done deal. Case closed.
However, in many cases, you may not be the sole decision maker for a new piece of technology, so how do you build a business case and convince the powers that be? You have to craft the right story and speak to the right people.
At EverString, we help our customers build businesses cases for predictive marketing. In fact, if you are building a business case specifically for predictive marketing, check out our new ebook How to Build a Business Case for Predictive Marketing! As a result of consulting with our customers and helping them through the buying process, we have learned a lot about how to make your case for any new marketing technology.
Step 1: Know Who Your Stakeholders Are
The first step in building your business case is making a list of your key stakeholders. Your stakeholders are the people in your organization who need to sign off on your new technology platform. In many cases, stakeholders could be either VP or C-level executives and may be your CMO, VP of Sales, CFO, CTO, and in some cases, even your CEO.
Once you have a confirmed list of who you need buy-in from, spend some time thinking through messaging that resonates which each stakeholder. Understand what makes them tick. Make a list of key considerations (what each stakeholder cares about) and make a list of key focus areas (how your new tool will address each area of consideration). Once you have this documented, make sure you include customized sound bites in your presentations.
Step 2: Spend Time Researching the Current State of the Category
A consideration for many stakeholders is the health of the software category. In other words, how new is this technology type? Is it sustainable? Who is adopting it? Are your competitors adopting it? Will it disappear in the next six months? Especially in the world of marketing technology, hundreds of new technologies and technology categories seem to pop up every few months. How do you convince your stakeholders that your chosen technology isn’t just a flash in the pan?
Spend time researching the space. What other technologies make up the category and how long have they been around? You also should spend time looking through analyst reports to determine what the general adoption patterns are and what the adoption forecast might be. And then, try and find out how many of your competitors use this product or product category—this will help convince your stakeholders that implementation is a competitive advantage.
Step 3: Calculate the ROI of Your New Technology Platform
Regardless of what department your stakeholders run, all of them will want to know the return on investment with your proposed platform—how will it positively affect the business? Note that ROI doesn’t always have to mean hard dollars, it also can mean an increase in productivity and efficiency across the board.
Speak to your vendor and do some research to determine how to illustrate the platform’s main ROI value propositions. And, make sure that you do some tailoring when determining what to focus on for what stakeholder. For instance, your CMO might care about an increase in leads, while your VP of Sales cares about deal velocity, and your CFO cares about an increase in productivity after implementation. Certainly present all of your findings, but start with what you think is most relevant to each party.
Step 4: Research Your Chosen Vendor
Once you have outlined the basic foundation for your business case, it’s time to delve deeper into your chosen vendor. You want to present why you chose your vendor and what differentiates them from others in the market.
Schedule time with your vendor to ask them some of these questions. Also, be sure to get customer references and watch testimonials. And always do your own research so that you can look at neutral research reports and reviews of your chosen platform.
Step 5: Lay Out Your Timeline
Most stakeholders, particularly those that are closest to the team using the new platform, will want to know your implementation timeline. How long will this take to implement? What resources are needed? What is the time-to-value?
Take some time to speak to your vendor and team to understand what makes up the implementation process. Once you have a general timeline (be conservative when you present), you can document that timeline and present it to your stakeholders. By having an organized plan of attack, you are way more likely to get buy-in. If you come to the meeting unprepared with specifics, you might be setting yourself up for failure.
Step 6: Schedule Stakeholder Meetings
After you have all the facts, it is now time to schedule your stakeholder meetings. I have always found it best to actually create a slide deck to go through everything, but sometimes it might be better to have a more informal conversation. Know your audience!
Once you have your case documented, schedule time with your key stakeholders to discuss your implementation. Depending on your group of decision makers, you might want to meet with them together or separately.
Building a business case can be tough, but with a repeatable template you can easily do this for all of your technology dreams! And if you are looking to build a business case for predictive marketing, be sure to download our ebook!