What Does “Executive Buy In” for Pardot Really Mean?

“Executive Buy-In” – this is a phrase that truly puts the buzz in buzzword.  But contrary to most buzzwordy things in this industry, you really are going to need it to be successful with any marketing automation platform.

So what does this elusive notion of “executive buy-in” really mean in the context of Pardot?

1) You’ve got the budget

First, money.  You need the funds to put your plan in action, and this usually includes:

  • The subscription fees to Pardot
  • The time/salary cost of someone to design and deploy campaigns
  • Financial resources to get trained
  • Budget to pay an agency or a freelancer to complement the capacity and skills of your existing team

In 2012, Gartner predicted that marketing would have a bigger technology budget than IT, and this may finally come true this year.  According to their latest CMO Spend Survey, an average 3.24% of revenue goes to marketing tech spend, which pretty darn close to the 3.4% average that CIOs earmark for IT.

[Speaking for budgets, does your CFO give you mad side eye? We’ve got a blog post coming soon on how to win him or her over – be sure to subscribe in the left hand sidebar to get it delivered to your inbox.]

2) You share a philosophy

More important than sharing greenbacks is sharing a similar philosophy on what marketing automation is for.  My worldview:

Most traditional marketing tactics are either dead or significantly less effective.  A content-rich inbound marketing and sales strategy is the way to move the needle in 2017.  (And execution is everything.)

This kind of alignment between you and your leadership team can be tricky to measure, but I’d recommend taking a hard look at this.  Do you agree on what success looks like?  Is your idea of “good marketing” at least in the same ballpark?  

I totally whiffed on this one at a past company.  During the interview process, I asked about our service offering, our team, our clients, our growth metrics — and I was thrilled to hear that they’d already invested in Pardot.

But what I didn’t realize at the time was that the CEO had a very old-school vision of what email marketing could and should be.  In his mind, it wasn’t about scaling the reach of our content or effective targeting/personalization.  It was a numbers game about mass deploying the same canned pitch, and opt-in consent was a little detail we didn’t need to concern ourselves with.

The lesson learned?  Ask questions, and do not pass go until you can get on the same page about the strategy and philosophy that underlies your marketing efforts.

3) Your other boss, sales, digs it.

It doesn’t matter who you report to on the org chart.  As a marketer, you will always have a second boss, and that is sales.  

Is your Chief Commercial Officer or VP of Sales in your corner?  You will quickly find that their support is key to maintaining – not to mention growing – your digital marketing footprint and budget. 

They’re also the key to getting your reps to act on the leads you’re generating and nurturing — and that is no small feat. 

How can you sell sales leadership on the vision of what Pardot can bring to the table?  What features will make their and their teams’ lives easier?  (Related: prioritizing projects that inspire the most love, for the least amount of effort.)

Pitching Your Team on Pardot 

Bottom line, getting executive buy-in for Pardot is critical to success, but I would definitely file this under “easier said than done.”

Knowing that you need buy-in doesn’t tell you HOW to get there — and that process is a little different in each organization.  If you’re struggling with where to start, I’d suggest thinking through:

  • What resources do I need to ask for?  (Not just license fees — what’s the all-in cost, in time and money?)
  • How can I paint of picture of the “future state” we can get to if we do this, and how can I leverage that vision to build excitement?
  • Who else might share my interest in moving this forward?
  • What obstacles and objections should I anticipate?
  • Who needs to say YES… and who can say NO?  (Usually two different answers.)
  • What is the worldview of the stakeholders I need to get on board, and how can I appeal to that?
  • Are there metrics or concrete outcomes I’m willing to commit to achieving if the organization agrees to move forward?

If you’re working on pitching Pardot, or recently tried (successfully or not-so-successfully), I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

What was most difficult?  What surprised you?  Any tips or lessons learned?

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