What is it like when you don’t have executive buy-in for data projects?
What happens when data teams don’t have executive buy-in?
When data teams don’t have executive buy-in, morale goes down. People who are on data teams feel like their purpose is being ignored.
At these companies, communication is not happening well. Conversations that do happen within data teams are not very productive because when teams feel like they’re not being heard, they are focused on that problem instead of the data.
Additionally, the people that do have great ideas end up not speaking up because they feel like no action will be taken and that leadership is not receptive to data-driven insights.
For a technology company that’s in a growth stage, this can be lethal.
This type of culture is corrosive. It manifests in different ways including, multiple teams working in silos on projects that have significant overlap, leadership handing down orders instead of exploring options, and proposals being made but never acted on.
How do you get executive buy-in for data projects?
The solution to getting executive buy-in starts with a fundamental principle of Pragmatic Institute: understand the problems of your buyers.
In this instance, your company’s leaders and executives are the buyers most relevant to your data project’s success. You must convince them that not only will implementing a data-driven approach fundamentally change the way your company approaches decision-making, it will also lead to dramatically improved results.
Below are three strategies you can use to gain executive buy-in for your data projects.
Strategy #1: View executives as potential supporters of your initiative and approach them as buyers
To design a plan that will obtain executive backing, you should have a thorough understanding of your organization’s strategic goals, the definition of success for individual executives, and the obstacles each one is confronting in achieving their ambitions.
Traditionally, these roles will be the VPs of sales, marketing, product, and even the CEO. Here are some questions to ask:
- What are the top obstacles or problems that interfere with success in your role?
- What does winning look like for you? How do you measure success?
- How do you approach business decisions today? If you haven’t considered implementing a data-driven approach, why not?
- How do you manage without using data insights today?
Strategy #2: Set up main KPI goals for every section of the organization impacted by the data
This activity builds upon the effort of comprehending your executive customer personas; now you should know how the company’s strategic objectives correspond to each department’s aims. Even though every organization will be special in the KPIs they follow and aim for, here are a few examples to get started:
- Lead conversion rates—Lead conversion rates are a key performance indicator (KPI) for marketers, as it provides insight into how effective their efforts are at driving qualified leads down the sales funnel. A lead conversion rate measures the number of leads that become sales-ready after being qualified, and it is an important metric to track in order to understand if the right leads are being generated.
- Average sales cycle time—The average sales cycle time is an important metric because it can provide details on how efficient the sales process is and expose areas for improvement. This KPI helps to measure the efficiency of sales reps, as well as identify any issues that may be preventing customers from making their purchases.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)—Customer lifetime value measures how much money a customer will spend on your company over time. Data is used to calculate CLV by looking at the average size of closed deals, the success rates of campaigns, and the conversion rate (how many opportunities turn into closed-won deals). This way, sales teams can see how much money each customer is worth and make better decisions about which customers to focus on.
- Customer retention rates—Want to get buy-in from your VP of sales? Put a plan in place that will help them win and retain more customers. Customer retention rates measure how many customers stay with a company over time and reveal trends in customer behavior that might indicate when customers are going to leave, allowing for proactive customer retention strategies.
- Adoption rate for product launches—By analyzing customer feedback and engagement data, companies can better understand which features of their products resonate with customers, what type of messaging resonates better, and why some customers may be dropping off before completing the purchase process. This type of analysis helps to improve the overall user experience by ensuring that products meet customer needs, thus increasing adoption rates.
When setting KPIs, it is essential to focus your efforts on goals that reflect the priorities of your organization for the next 12-18 months. Show how this approach will bring about measurable market success and use those same metrics as a sign of success for your team. This enables your results to match the broader objectives of the business, taking your team from just executing tasks to having a strategic role.
Strategy #3: Take part in regular conversations with executive sponsors
Having gained an understanding of the executive point of view and having identified the key KPIs, it is time to become a permanent part of their process.
As executives frequently check on these KPIs, they will be able to see how investing in data activities can affect their most valued outcomes. Framing the adoption of a data-driven approach as a way to trigger organizational change, not simply personal growth, is critical. These regular interactions will directly impact your relevance and mobility in the business.
To gain executive buy-in, you need to view that team as you would your buyers. It starts with understanding the problems they see in the business and focusing your efforts on solving them.
Then, don’t just speak to the data-driven insights and why they’re important. Instead, choose specific metrics that will show progress toward achieving company goals in those areas.
Finally, engage in quarterly planning, tie your initiatives to goals and track their success over time. The key is to show the impact of your efforts and how a more data-driven approach can result in success for the business over time.
Advance From A Tactical Role to Being A Strategic Contributor
Translate business needs into achievable data projects with Pragmatic Institute’s course, Business-Driven Data Analysis. The course is built around the Pragmatic Data Insights Model to ensure data practitioners and stakeholders embrace an optimized approach to data projects. Master the Pragmatic Data Insights Model and implement these skills within your own organization using real-world data.