How Ecommerce Consultants Can Get You Stakeholder Approval
How to get stakeholder buy in when leading a digital transformation
Ecommerce leaders often get tasked with the illusive term, “digital transformation”, and are sent off to tackle a major project, in a silo. If you’re an Ecommerce Director or Manager, and you want to bring your ideas to the table on modernizing, elevating and ultimately winning market share in the hyper competitive space of online sales, collaborating with cross functional teams is key to your success as an ecommerce leader.
What are the top considerations you need for stakeholder buy-in?
What do the experts say?Gather background information and industry benchmarks that support your ideas.
Understand the motivation for this change.Not just your why, but also why the stakeholders you need buy in from could be motivated to change.
Outline return on investment.Consider more than just increased revenue; show other areas for potential gains such as time saved, money saved, customer satisfaction and competitive advantage if possible.
Here are a few tips on how to bring your idea to life, suggest changes that everyone can get behind, and get noticed in your organization.
Consideration One - What do the experts say?
Spend a bit of time looking around online to find out what the industry experts are saying on the topic of digital transformation and evolving your ecomm channel; search for project outcomes and case studies that relate to the type of company you run (ie: B2B or B2C). You don’t need to become a thought leader in the space, but arm yourself with a bit of background information and some industry benchmarks that you can easily share and support your ideas when it comes time to start floating your plan around to your team. Consider creating a “one-sheet” that contains a few highlights of this data to email out as needed.
Consideration Two - Understand what motivates you
Take inventory of your “why”. Is this plan to transform the company’s online channels making improvements for only you, or does it support other team’s goals and needs? Sketch out your reasons, and make sure you show the list of positive outcomes for all the teams that touch the digital arm of the business. You can use a simple format such as:
- Team or Department
- Value Proposition
- Common Struggles to Consider
- Potential Improved Outcome
You don’t have to share this exercise, but it’s important to know if your motivation is going to benefit you, or all.
Consideration Three - Show the return on investment
When developing out your plan to share with your stakeholders, be sure to show the return on investment, or ROI. This ROI needs to consider more than just earning back revenue; show other areas for potential gains such as time saved, money saved (not just earned), customer satisfaction and competitive advantage if possible. Use industry benchmarks at this early stage, no need to dig deep into budgets and planning yet, you’re still in the thinking step.
How do I present my idea?
After you’ve considered these three basic areas, it’s time to formulate the best way to format and present your idea. Making changes within an organization, no matter the size, can be an uphill battle, even if it is part of your role as an ecommerce or marketing leader. It’s best to include stakeholders early in the process, not after the idea is formed and laid out. Allow for teammates to see your rough plans, and give feedback multiple times throughout the cycle. This participation will get buy-in early, and you’ll experience less resistance in getting adoption down the road. Make a target list of the key stakeholders that you’d need to have approval from to get your idea accepted; ensure your plan includes them at least three times in the ideation phase so they aren’t surprised when it comes time to present.
Each of these stakeholders should understand where you are in the process of trying to make a change. Give them a high level outline of the steps you’re going to take to propose your idea, and invite feedback at each step. Ask them how much or how little they’d like to participate, and try to categorize each section by the amount of time you’d require from them to give feedback and work with you.
When presenting your data to these key influencers, be sure to let them know you’re doing this to avoid a failed project. One study shows that ecommerce changes have a failure rate of up to 30%; and your goal in this information gathering phase is to get a greenlight from the teams and have persons from each department point out where the stumbling blocks ahead could be. There is an age-old tendency for marketing to blame IT, and IT to blame marketing when it comes to a failed project; being inclusive with a genuine desire to learn what you don’t know is the best way to avoid this.
The below template is an easy starting point for you to complete a high-level snapshot of the project and concept overall. Simply following a guide such as this, and walking through it with each department can save you a lot of resistance in the near future, and get critical feedback really early in your process.
Talking about big ideas and vision is exciting and fun, but really taking the time to consider how the change is going to happen is a smarter place to start when you’re proposing mega transformations to a team.
Starting to talk details
It’s common that the moment an ecommerce leader starts to talk about the possibility of a change or digital transformation, teammates start jumping right for the details. Figuring out the best approach, developing a plan, and doing your research is a marathon, not a sprint.
Our clients often come to us with an innovative idea (fun, we love this), but have no clue how to get there. The common questions we get are, “how long will it take”, and “how much will it cost”? We challenge them to take a look at their approach, the pains they’re currently feeling, and encourage them to work on building out solutions that not only fix those pains but allow them to scale those fixes competitively in the future.
We work with clients to figure out the moving pieces, sit with subject matter experts in the areas, and really strategize making a plan that satisfies the stakeholders needs, while driving the ecommerce leader’s vision of digital transformation to the finish line.
The takeaway here is, be inclusive. Before diving into the outcome and figuring out the money and the timeline, simply ask your team if they support this plan, and if not, what do you need to do to get them to. Don’t be afraid to get the teams into a brainstorming session and figure out what the blockers will be, what the pains are that you’re trying to solve, and what digital transformation means to them.
So you have gotten your teams together and everyone is excited and ready to get the ball rolling on your project. Stakeholder buy in is there, and you have done your internal teams assessments, but you realize you still need help. This is where an ecommerce consultant can help you get your project off the ground and bring it home for you.