At DemandGen, we develop MarTech strategy and implement solutions for a wide range of companies. As a result, I’ve been able to gain a unique perspective on how change management can impact success throughout the project lifecycle.
First off, I have to say I’m extremely fortunate that we have a great solution architecture and implementation team here at DemandGen who can develop and build anything I’ve thrown at them.
Once the technical pieces have been covered, however, going from designing the perfect processes, system solutions, frameworks, strategies, etc. to seeing positive ROI comes from the ability to successfully manage change within your organization.
Although there are always a lot of details that go into successful change management, here are a few key insights I’ve gathered from working on these types of projects from beginning to end:
- The airplane often has to be built while flying it (or, you can’t stop the factory while rebuilding it).
Inevitably, there are already programs in progress, leads being generated and sent to Sales, opportunities being qualified and worked, and revenue being closed and brought in.
The trick is to identify what is working and what needs to be improved, design the processes and technology based on your findings, and then roll them out with minimal impact to your current initiatives.
I say “trick” because there are often competing interests and historical momentum that can obscure the ability to determine what needs to be changed and what doesn’t. And the decisions you make now can have a big impact (either positive or negative) on both implementation and the effectiveness of your solution.
- The more of an organization that a change impacts, the higher the level of executive support is needed.
I have worked with clients where the process change needed to hit long-term revenue goals required changes to the core systems in both Sales and Marketing. However, the project champion was in the Marketing department and did not have the full support of the Sales organization. After Marketing rolled out the new solution, adoption was lackluster and the project fizzled.
However, we’ve had other clients where the CMO has championed the project and gained the support of Sales. As a result, project roll-out and adoption across multiple departments happened quickly, positively impacting lead flow and revenue.
- The right stakeholders need to be on board from the beginning.
It’s not just executive stakeholders and champions who are important to get on board from the start. Don’t forget the stakeholders who are going to be working with the end solution, building campaigns, doing reporting, and so on. Getting them on board early with the pieces of the project that are going to impact them can greatly speed up implementation and adoption.
Not everyone who is touched by the project needs to approve changes or be involved in formulating them. There are different roles for each stakeholder. Map out project roles and responsibilities, including for those who simply need information and visibility so they aren’t blindsided once any changes are put in place.
- Technology comes with a process already built into it to a greater or lesser degree.
Marketing and Sales technology solutions have moved increasingly to SaaS models. Rarely do we come across fully custom, proprietary solutions. As such, each solution always comes with a default process. You must always take this into account when building out process and technology changes.
I have worked on projects where processes that were designed to work with a different vendor’s solution were expected to be migrated as is to the new system. In those projects where critical and vital processes relied on features from the prior solution, it was very difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to adapt and build out similar processes in a new system that did not come equipped with those features out of the box.
- The biggest driver of change is good results…on the metrics that matter.
Ultimately, good results speak for themselves and drive further adoption. It often helps to pilot the change with a smaller group and let those results help drive adoption across the rest of the organization.
However, the results need to be on the metrics that matter. Revenue that can be attributed to the project always has the biggest positive impact, but other metrics such as lead flow or velocity can be equally powerful and can often be seen much quicker, especially with longer sales cycles. Sometimes just giving visibility into the metrics is powerful when there was no visibility in the past.
On the flip side, if a project is being rolled out to both Sales and Marketing and the results are only impacting marketing metrics, such as social shares or website visits, Sales might not be that impressed.
Change management is a key component of any project, and it shouldn’t be left until after the design and implementation have been completed. Change management requirements need to be assessed, understood, and planned for at the very beginning and reviewed regularly throughout the project. Having a partner who has successfully implemented the same type of project for other organizations can help!
Ryan Johnson develops and implements marketing automation strategies for DemandGen clients. As a DemandGen Consultant, he has helped clients across a wide range of industries to streamline and optimize their marketing and sales processes to drive measurable success and ROI.