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How to get budget approval for your tech stack

You have found great software applications that will accelerate your sales and marketing success, save the company money, and help your team achieve more with less. The next step is convincing someone else in the business to release the budget and approve the purchase. It is critical to get stakeholders on board when it comes to investing in technology applications, particularly when there are now so many requests across all areas of the business. This article helps you frame a business case to boost your chances of successfully adding new technology to your stack.

 

Proving the ROI of the marketing and sales software you want

Marketing technology, or ‘martech’, is growing at an exponential rate. ‘Martech is a $122 billion industry that’s growing by 22% year on year’ according to research from the international accountancy and business advisory firm BDO and WARC, along with the University of Bristol.

It’s easy for sales and marketing managers to simply say that the software they want will “make our job easier” or “make our sales teams more effective” but stakeholders need to see evidence of this. They will want to see that the software can provide more incremental revenue/value/efficiency than the incremental cost.

The key to getting budget approval for any business need is to prove that it will bring a positive Return on Investment (ROI).

Besides proving the software ROI, managers must also look at the wider business needs and build an internal case for adopting the tech. Here we give you some of the important things to consider in our 5 Tips to Achieve Budget Approval:

   

5 Tips to Achieve Budget Approval

1. Think about customer vs colleague

When adopting any software there are two sets of people who matter the most in the decision-making process - and that’s your customer and your colleagues. Just because you are advocating for new software doesn’t mean that it will benefit your colleagues, so you need to get everyone on board before you make your budget request. Say, for example, you are wanting a new and improved CRM system for the whole company, if the sales features are far superior to the marketing features, then the technology is only benefiting one part of the business.

‘Besides making smart choices about which tools to use, managers must also build an internal case for adopting the martech strategy, create the right organizational structure to nurture it, and persuade others in the organization to deploy it.’ Harvard Business Review

Reach out to your peers and look at their pain points to determine whether the software will be suitable for everyone and is a valuable purchase. In big companies, it might not matter if the departments don’t share software, but for start-ups and small businesses, the tech needs to work for everyone.

Tip: get a demonstration and trial of the software for the key departments who will be using it - if they all like it then the stakeholder is more likely to say yes.

The other important group to consider is your customers and whether they will benefit from the new technology. For example, will the software help the customer directly such as being able to contact you more easily by having a live chat or book a meeting function? Or will it allow the sales and marketing teams to provide more personalized and customized messages to help nurture customer relationships and push leads through the sales funnel? Make sure you show the stakeholders the benefits the software will have on the customer journey.

Tip - deconstruct your customer journey and link the martech features to your desired outcomes such as enhancing engagement, driving sales, and avoiding churn. Different software can also benefit different customer personas.

Ultimately you will need to prove that the software can serve customers better and also help your colleagues do their job better and more efficiently.

With the SciLeads platform, we provide potential customers with a free demo and trial so that they have plenty of time to try out the platform across the business. We also provide a sample data list for companies to use in their sales and marketing campaigns to test the quality of the leads we have. After all, the proof is in the pudding as they say. Get your free demo here.

 

2. Show that it works

It may seem obvious (because why would you buy software that doesn’t do the job you need it to do) but it is easy to be impressed by the marketing of a product and what it promises to do. Most product advertising will focus on the benefits and not the features like ‘it saves you time’ and ‘combines everything in one’ but it’s the nitty-gritty details that will convince the stakeholders of its worth. For example, what is the technical spec and will this software integrate easily with the rest of the tech stack in your company? The SciLeads platform integrates with Salesforce, allowing sales teams to enhance their current contact’s information.

If you are upgrading to newer technology, then you need to show that it can do everything you need it to and more. Say you are looking to introduce that new CRM system to your company to upgrade on your current solution and even amalgamate other digital marketing applications such as prospect and deal tracking, sending emails, social media posting, etc then you need to ensure that it does those essential tasks well. If you regularly send out emails to customers that contain a lot of design elements, then you need to know that the email feature has the Html capabilities required. Make a list of your companies ‘must have’ features and show how the software fulfills these needs - include the ‘big ticket’ items like its sales forecasting, for example, but also the more minor but useful features like workflows or social media scheduling.

‘Many marketing technologies only offer a specific solution, so it’s common to see SMBs with very complex and disjointed martech stacks as a result. But when you find a marketing technology that allows you to solve for many processes, you can achieve a more cohesive customer experience through unified systems and tools.’ (Pardot)

Also, make sure your request is for the right subscription level - if your company can’t afford the top enterprise tier then make sure the lower levels have all the features you need for the foreseeable future. You might be able to upgrade as the business grows, but don’t have your initial request refused because the CRM you want doesn’t allow you to add more contacts or email a certain number of people in the short term. You also don’t want to have to go back to the stakeholders ‘cap in hand’ asking for more money to upgrade the software you’ve just bought.

Tip: be mindful of subscription tiers - some features might only be available in the more expensive subscription levels or you might change you mind and be hit with cancellation fees.

You will also want to explain to your stakeholders what the termination process is. It is normal in our current world of digital transformation to need/want to change software solutions every 3-5 years as the technology advances or business needs change, but you need to know if you will be penalized for canceling your contract. If you change your mind about the software you are using, make sure you know how easy it is to extract your data.

Tip - companies make it difficult for you to cancel - make sure you outline any cancellation and data migration issues as part of your risk management process.

 

3 - Prove that doing nothing costs something

What is the cost to the company if everything just stays the same? Your company might be content with the status quo and not want to make any changes because they think everything is fine as it is, or worry that money for martech won’t be well spent. To make a change you will have to spell out how much the current solution is costing in wasted time, lost customers, and even less quantifiable costs such as low employee morale. You may also want to point out how other companies are utilizing these types of software, which could potentially be giving them a competitive edge over you.

Tip - show the stakeholders some case studies from other companies who use the software and have achieved great results.

It is very important to highlight your current setup in comparison to the proposed software. Like we highlighted in our blog about sales team productivity tools the average sales representative spends a large amount of time researching prospects before they can sell to them. If the average salary in the US for a sales rep is around $70,000-$100,000, the cost for their research time could potentially be $30,000 per person. In a sales team of 5 people, that could mean $150,000 is spent a year on research. By providing high-quality leads data instantly, the way the SciLeads platform does, it saves both time and money and allows the sales teams to do what they do the best: sell.

A significant difference between the current situation and your new solution will be a powerful persuader.

 

4 - Tech is for all, not just the IT team

The biggest roadblock, aside from price and performance, is the manpower needed to deploy and implement any new technology application. Stakeholders will wince if new software needs their precious IT staff to spend a lot of time onboarding, maintaining, and integrating the technology. It won’t be seen as a viable option if every time something breaks or needs to be updated that it’s down to the tech team to fix the issue.

It’s one thing for staff to want the software, but another important factor in the decision-making process will be if they will be able to use it easily, and who will train them. You will need to consider how much training time is needed to use the software and can your company afford to have staff take time away from work to learn a new application? Does your company have the ability to train staff in new technology? Introducing new software usually has some initial teething problems, so make sure you have accounted for the resources needed to fix them. Many software companies offer then own onboarding, training, and tech support, however, they may charge for this as a one-off or ongoing cost.

Make sure you know what the tech support will look like after the sale is completed and meet your potential account manager if you’ll have one. Often the salesperson who sells you the software is not the person you will be dealing with in the future and this could be a disappointing experience.

Tip: When mapping out your costs make sure to factor in uptake time - how many hours will it take to implement the technology and train staff members to use it, and who will do this.

For example, the SciLeads platform is a web application and utilizes cloud storage, meaning there is no software to be downloaded - staff just need a web browser and internet connection and they can use the system from anywhere in the world. Every client using the platform has a dedicated Customer Success Manager to train staff and provide tech support on-demand, reducing the pressure on or need for internal IT teams.

 

5 - Pick your moment

Timing is everything when it comes to budget approval and you want to ensure there is enough money available to cover the cost of your new technology. It is highly advisable to find out about your company’s internal budget cycle and whether you would be more successful in getting approval in one quarter or another. Are requests more likely to be approved at the start or end of the fiscal year?

You will want to know whose budget the purchase would come out of whether it’s marketing, sales, or is there a separate allowance for new technology in general. You will also want to consider future purchases you might need to make during the financial year and whether this cost will penalize something else you might need in the future.

Tip: Get to know your internal budget cycle

Think about timing on a personal level too for the person or people making the decision. There is something called decision fatigue which is caused by ‘being forced to make too many decisions over a fixed period of time’. If everyone in the company is asking for things at once, you may find this has a negative impact on your request.

 

Key takeaways

Creating a business case for new software isn’t just about the money it will cost but also the impact it will have on everyone involved, including present and future business implications.

When seeking budget approval make sure you consider the following points:

  • Who the software is for - Whether the software will benefit both the customer and your colleagues across the business
  • Proving it works effectively - Try and test the software thoroughly and make sure it has all of the features you need, not just the ‘big-ticket’ items
  • The benefit of change - Show the contrast between keeping everything the same as it is versus the time and money saved by implementing the new technology
  • All costs involved - Document everything from upfront and ongoing charges, to labour costs and cancelation fees
  • Tech and training support - Know whether you will be relying on the IT team to deploy the platform and train staff and what impact this will have
  • When to ask - Timing is everything so make sure you know how your company’s budget cycle works.

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