Tough Talks Made Easy | Strategy and tech: what your CMO should know
Written by Trent Cross
Each year brings a flood of new tools onto the market; the question is which ones are right for your business. Strategy and technology ideally work in lockstep—one defines your outcomes, the other helps you achieve them—but this relationship gets tangled when your goals aren’t strongly defined.
In this Tough Talks Made Easy, we’ll cover how to connect the dots between strategy and technology for your boss. We’ll help you have a discussion that links goals and tools together, and give you the framing to relate your needs in MOPs back to the strategy.
Put purpose front and center
Martech is going through a vendor boom that shows no signs of slowing down. As tech evolves to address more capability gaps, it’s tempting to see the purchase of a shiny new solution as a way to gain a competitive edge.
But tech by itself doesn’t solve problems or set purpose. Without addressing a clear need for your business, that new tool is like a Ferrari without a racetrack; powerful, expensive, wasted.
Strategy is the foundation for all the actions you take, goals you work towards, and places you invest as a business. The outcomes that leadership targets should cascade downwards into a series of smaller goals and define the kinds of tech you look at bringing on board.
Your CMO’s top priority is continuous revenue growth. Your Marketing Manager might want to achieve that by increasing qualified leads. In that case, a solution might be a lead management tool that improves your grasp of lead behavior; insight that lets you tweak the customer journey in the right places to bring in more leads and create growth opportunities.
Whatever piece of tech you choose needs to complete a clear throughline between top-level strategic priorities, relevant performance targets further down, and tools with the capabilities to achieve those aims.
That alignment is how you frame the relationship between strategy and technology for your boss. Leadership wants the tools you use in MOPs to support their aims—this isn’t possible without a thorough sense of purpose.
Ask your boss to share definitive priorities per quarter and year (and their boss’ too), how particular performance targets contribute to them, and to set out a clear need that a new piece of technology should fulfil. Are you trying to reduce costs? Increase growth? Work more efficiently?
With that understanding, you can advise on the right piece of tech for your circumstances.
Take a need-driven approach
Any decision your business makes on tech acquisition needs thorough involvement from MOPs. As the person likely to take on the task of managing a new tool, you’ve got a window into the current strengths and challenges of using your stack.
For putting your case across to leadership: that means you have the knowledge to assess whether a solution is truly the right fit for your needs. Here’s where you explain the evaluation process.
Your boss might be urgent or excited about getting a tool on board, but you need to know how the capabilities and quirks of a particular technology suit your business before you buy it. That’s going to take time.
Gather feedback from users and internal teams, explore trials and demos, assess how well a tool integrates with your stack and fits your business model—these steps are all crucial for your business to make the right decision. In other words: they’re time well-spent.
Sometimes, the answer isn’t a new tool at all. If leadership wants to achieve a particular outcome, encourage them to think about how you can accomplish the same ends with your current stack. Are you utilizing all the features of your toolset? If there’s potential to meet performance goals by using the same tech in different ways, that’s a cost-effective way to bring tech in line with strategy.
In essence, here’s the message to bring home: allowing MOPs time and space to make a thorough evaluation of what technology offers your business, and really taking that assessment on board, increases your chance of spending only on the tools that advance the achievement of your strategy.
Speak strategic language
To really get on the same page with leadership about how strategy and tech support each other, you’ll likely have to play “translator”. People at different levels of a business speak in different languages, so when approaching your boss (and their boss) about tech, you’ll succeed by framing the gritty details of tech in the context of big picture strategic objectives.
Is your reporting taking too much time? Are your processes and systems not syncing as well as they should? Could your data insights be faster or more sophisticated? When you speak with your boss, make it clear how those issues impact the top-level outcomes—revenue, growth, productivity.
Position your day-to-day tasks as part of the broader strategy, and it’ll send an important message to leadership: making tech decisions that benefit your work directly feed the overall goals of your business.
Choosing the right technology for your circumstances, and aligning your strategy and tech together, takes some important conversations. Whatever guidance you need, Revenue Pulse is here to help.
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