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You’ve found the perfect solution, service or product that will help your department move forward. Now you just need to get final approval. Being an effective internal champion can make a big difference on whether or not your initiative is approved.
Whether you’re trying to convince your boss or make a business case to procurement personnel, here are a few tips on being an effective internal champion and selling up the chain.
The features and benefits you’re most excited about might not be what the person you have to convince cares about. For instance, diving into a detailed feature review with someone who isn’t very technical isn’t going to help your case. Instead, think about who you’re approaching and the specific things they care about. Are they most concerned with productivity or budget? Focus on those areas instead.
If you don’t know exactly what they might care about, ask. It can be as simple as “do you want to get into features and capabilities, or would you prefer to understand how the solution will fit into our organization and those benefits?” Then take those insights and structure the presentation around that focus. The last thing you want to do when trying to make a good impress is to accidently waste someone’s time by not discussing the aspects that actually matter to them.
While you’re likely most excited about how this new solution will make your job easier, that’s not a strong argument to someone outside of your department. It’s hard to convince someone to spend precious budget if all you talk about is “me, me, me.”
Instead, think about the bigger picture. Sure, the solution will make your job easier, but what will that do for the organization? Will it increase overall productivity? Can you tie its impact to revenue or improved bottom line? Does it align with a company-wide focus such as a cloud-first initiative or a shift to remote working?
Being able to paint this picture will make the investment seem worthwhile on a company level.
Have you ever tried to retell a story you heard from a friend? It’s never quite as good is it? That’s because it’s their story, not yours. The same concept applies when you’re working with a vendor. As excited as you may be about their solution, they’ll always understand it (and its business benefits and use cases) better than you do.
Instead of trying to sell the solution internally on your own, tell your vendor who you’ll be talking to and ask if they have any information directly tailored to that persona and the things they care about. Better yet, invite the vendor to join meetings. They’ve done a good job selling you on the solution, let them work their magic on the rest of your team.
While the vendor is an expert on the solution they’re selling, you’re the expert on your organization. The most successful processes are ones where the internal champion and the vendor work closely together to push a deal though.
Give them insights about the company’s focuses and how this solution will really drive the business, but also give them tidbits on the people they’ll be meeting with. Is your CIO super technical? Does your CFO care more about a cost-benefit analysis than straight numbers? Is someone resistant to change or a major change agent? This information can help the team prepare the strongest case possible.
By working together and thinking like the people you’re trying to convince, you can become a successful internal champion for the solution you wanted all along.