Jun 24 2014

Getting Internal Buy-In: Overcoming The 4 Most Common Objections

Our second in a three-part series from CEO Nick Kishfy (@kishfy) on how best to get internal buy-in for something built by an outside agency. Did you miss Part 1 of the series?. Part 3 of the series is now posted.

No matter what steps you take to prepare, you’ll almost always hear at least one of these common objections, in one form or another.

Below are some strategies for handling those challenges.

Note that this doesn’t replace the need to do the legwork of learning and understanding your stakeholder’s interests, but it can help you bring the conversation back to those interests.

1. We can do this in-house.

There are likely very capable developers on your team.

So naturally, when a development project is proposed, the obvious is question is “why not just have our team do it?”

Generally, the answer comes down to value, and how fast you can achieve your goals.

Doing the project in-house means it needs to be put into the existing development schedule, which means that delivery is probably at least several months away.

There will also likely be external factors -- unexpected technical needs from other departments are common -- that slow down the process and make it more and more costly.

Working with an agency means that you have a dedicated resource that’s focused on nothing but completing your project. It’s not unusual for an agency project completion timeline to be significantly (60 to 80%) shorter than the same project would call for in-house.

The agency -- if you’ve chosen well -- will also have built dozens or hundreds of successful projects similar to yours, so they’ll also work more efficiently and deliver a project with a strong likelihood of achieving the goals you want.

2. We don’t have the budget for it.

Budget concerns often fall into two categories: sticker shock, and concerns about the value of the project.

Sticker shock is common, especially when a stakeholder isn’t familiar with the requirements of a development project. In this case, prepare yourself with a detailed breakdown of everything that’ll be going into the proposed project. Show that you’ve done your homework in getting multiple proposals. Work with your agency to itemize the resources required, and emphasize the expected result that the investment will deliver.

If they’re not convinced about the value of the project, then make sure to frame the conversation around how it will serve their interests, as discussed earlier. Will it help them save money on infrastructure issues down the line? Will it help them meet their monthly sales goals? Show the value in terms that are significant to them, not necessarily the ones that are most important to you.

3. We don’t need this.

There are very few things a company needs... if it wants to stagnate indefinitely.

But there’s a good reason you’re convinced about the value of the project you’re pitching. Rather than expecting stakeholders to take your word about your company’s need, show them why it’s necessary.

Ask your agency for case studies of businesses like yours that were able to overcome challenges and grow by tackling similar projects. Find data that backs up your beliefs. For example, if your company doesn’t have a mobile-optimized website and you’d like to have one built, you might build your case around the fact that 46% of smartphone users now use their phones and tablets as their primary research tool.

Understanding exactly how not taking on your project is costing the company money is a more powerful motivator that simply taking your word for it.

4. This isn’t the right time for us to take this on.

Too many innovative projects get smothered within the walls of large companies in an endless loop of “now isn’t the time.”

More often than not, “later” is not-so-subtle code for “never.”

The best way to overcome this objection is to emphasize why it’s best to start right away; the sooner you start, the sooner you begin to reap the benefits. And often, there’s a strong case to be made for why putting the project off can be a bad idea.

For example, your marketing and technical teams might be planning a relaunch of a the website soon, and don’t want your project to get mixed up in the transition.

In this case, you might suggest that by getting started now, the project can be built as an integrated part of the relaunch, rather than an add-on that the team will later need to spend resources implementing.

We'll finish this series up next week with tips on how to maintain buy-in after the project starts up.

Nick Kishfy