How To Convince Your Boss to Buy Marketing Automation
So, you want to bring marketing automation into your 2012 marketing toolbox? You’ve attended the demos, you’ve read the case studies and now you are about to schedule a meeting with your boss to propose implementing marketing automation (MA) software. How do you justify the benefits of MA to your boss when resources are tight? This article will provide you with some keys to making the conversation with your boss a successful one.
1. Approach convo with facts & numbers, not emotions.
In 2012, most marketers are faced with loftier goals and fewer resources. While you might feel overwhelmed, refrain from running into your boss’s office screaming, “I don’t know how we are going to get everything done this year without marketing automation!” Your boss won’t react well to your theatrics. Remain professional and level-headed, do your research, and present your boss with a rational proposal based on facts.
2. Present a solid business case.
Your boss will want to know why you should invest money in marketing automation when there are so many other proven places to spend that money. Be prepared to fire back some benchmarks and case studies showing the benefits of MA to support your decision. With such a large MA user base, it’s easy to pull these types of resources from online communities and user groups. Find a few good examples that mirror your business style and present them in your proposal.
You will also want to show return on investment (ROI). Run some quick time studies to see how many hours per day are spent on tasks that marketing automation will replace or reduce. If you don’t have the time or resources to research this yourself, MA vendors should be able to help you calculate ROI. Remember to be transparent with your boss, and address potential risks as well as rewards. Explain upfront the hours you anticipate you and your staff will spend on training, setup and deployment. Your boss will appreciate seeing the full picture.
3. Touch on how goals and KPIs will be affected.
If you’re like most marketers, your goals for 2012 were significantly broadened. Include those raised targets in your proposal to your boss and show how marketing automation will help you achieve them. If you’re feeling brave, throw in some stretch targets you will put in place after you onboard MA. If you can, forecast the effects of marketing automation 1-3 years out. If you don’t have the time or skill to do this, consider using an MBA intern, or bring in a consultant for a few hours. Perhaps there are new goals or KPIs you will be able to start tracking once marketing automation is enabled, such as website behavior or re-engaged leads. Again, lean on your MA vendor for help identifying new goals or changes to existing ones—they work with clients like you every day and understand how MA affects marketing departments.
4. Suggest what you can add to your arsenal.
You’ve probably been using the same tried and true marketing tricks for a while now and are eager to add some new strategies to your marketing plan. Show your boss what new activities you will unlock with MA. Many execs don’t know what lead nurturing or right-time marketing campaigns are, so take this opportunity to explain it and provide benchmarks from companies like yours. Spend some time in the online communities, join LinkedIn groups or browse user communities and find those stellar examples of what adding some new activities can do to your results. Highlight to your boss any significant shifts in your strategy after implementing marketing automation.
5. Be prepared for their objections.
The most common objections to marketing automation involve the costs and business distractions of implementation, training and ongoing support. Your boss will want to know:
- How much time will be taken away from your other responsibilities as you prepare for and deploy the software;
- Whether you will need resources from other departments;
- How long will it take for your team to get trained and fully ramped up, and when will you start realizing those time-savings you mentioned; and
- What level of ongoing support MA requires, and what hidden costs there might be, such as consulting hours or maintenance fees.
Make sure you are prepared to address all of these objections, again with facts and numbers.
6. Provide the tools to sell it to their boss.
Unless they report directly to the CEO or CMO, your boss will likely have to run a large purchase like this by them for approval. Give your boss tools to make that happen. Use whatever format dominates in your company culture, be it PowerPoint, a Word document or an email, and keep it short and to the point. Provide a clear and concise overview of what marketing automation is; most C-level execs have heard the term, but many don’t understand what it means. Write a short bulleted list of what your company will gain by implementing MA. Make sure to focus on the benefits to the company, not on your workload. Summarize the ROI and case studies you’ve found, and put that together with the overview and bulleted list of benefits and you have delivered a powerful package your boss can use to get MA approved.
Remember that while this is a big investment, if you plan ahead and prepare your communication right it will be much easier to have a successful conversation with your boss about implementing marketing automation. Lean on marketing automation vendors, online communities and user groups to pull data on how MA has positively affected companies like yours, and work to attach some real ROI numbers to the investment. Your boss will appreciate the time and effort you put into the proposal, and with all of your research you will be prepared to address any pushback they might have. Good luck, and happy marketing!