Change Management Drives Marketing Automation Results

Deploying marketing automation to engage empowered buyers? For real results, approach it not as a technology buy, but as a change to manage.

Marketing leaders attempting to implement new technology in their organizations can empathize with the difficulty in driving results. Most companies introduce new technology to their teams expecting rapid adoption. Staff – just getting the hang of using the last big tool from a few years back – react to new technology with skepticism and resistance. When your team is barely scratching the surface of the last mandated new functionality, it’s natural for them to resist overturning their workflow all over again. Even if you have given them something better, their attention will be stuck on the need to change, rather than the benefit of making the change.

What we can do, as leaders, is anticipate this very human response — and not only roll out technology differently, but approach marketing automation less as a technology purchase and more like change management. Here’s how.

1 | Before you sign up for new, big-vision technology, do a full discovery of what else you’ll need to do to achieve the results you want.

Expect to invest significant resources and effort beyond that one piece of big-vision technology. For example, a marketing automation platform is nothing without an ongoing budget for brilliant, relevant content to engage empowered buyers. Ask hardware and software vendors, internal staff, and consultants: what will you need to achieve the vision, beyond the tool itself ?

Take inventory of what else you’ll need to achieve the vision, and be as thorough as possible: resources, data, complementary technology, processes, time. Without a full picture of what’s needed, you’re not only buying a tool that won’t benefit your team, but you are setting your team up for a giant distraction they might resent.

2| Get executive buy-in and cross-functional support early into the investment and design process.

Envision the marketing goals you want to achieve with your new technology purchase, and involve team leaders in your organization to get them excited about the results. Don’t just let them know you’re making this purchase – include them in the decision process and the plan for implementation. They need to be able to ‘sell’ this benefit to every last staff member who reports to them. When their team members are using the new systems, everyone will be rewarded with the results.

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3| Clearly identify the leadership team responsible for implementing the change effort, and make their mandate of building adoption a priority at every stage.

Change management is more than a one line item. It’s not just ‘schedule training’ on a checklist, but a mission that permeates selection, design, implementation and transition. Through it all, set milestones for iterative, quantitative benefits everyone can see along the way. Favor plenty of small-scale testing and feedback loops over an all-at-once, high-pressure launch. Success is self-promoting, and anecdotal evidence builds enthusiasm.

To overcome resistance to new technology, start by understanding the resistance as normal. Consider that teams resent change not just because of bias to the devil they know, but because they’ve had legitimate experience in the past with poorly-designed functionality, poorly-communicated needs, and poorly-run technology implementations.

Accept it by anticipating it — and begin the process of adoption from an earlier starting point.

Remember the promise of CRM? It was going to revolutionize the ‘demand chain’ of sales, marketing, and service. But more often than not, these high-value, low-adoption platforms were half-heartedly populated with dirty, useless, and incomplete data. Sales people didn’t like it, let alone trust it. Was the promise a false one? Of course not. But did we rely too heavily on the novelty of new technology alone to magically shift the habits, expectations, and behavior of people? You bet we did.

Since then, we’ve realized how deeply human input affects the impact of technology — perhaps even more than technology affects the impact of human output. If you buy any technology and fail to help your people understand and embrace it, you may as well have not bought it at all.

Sneakers do not make sprinters or marathoners. Training does. If a marketing or sales automation platform is the sneakers, implementation is only the first step of putting them on your organization’s feet. Implementation is not enough. To move results, we have to design and reimagine the flow of sales and marketing — not just flick a switch. Don’t deploy a tool. Deploy the change.

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