Tough Talks Made Easy: How To Guide Leadership Through “Shiny New Tool” Syndrome
Written by Andy Caron
When your team has a pain point or stress-inducing process to iron out, adding a new tool to your stack often seems an attractive solution. Perhaps leadership brings experience of using a certain tool to solve the problem at hand. They might know of comparable companies using a piece of tech and benchmark your stack against theirs. Or, they’re excited by the promise of results—”plug-and-play” accessibility, increases to revenue and productivity that justify the investment.
Beyond the hype, however, these flashes of inspiration alone aren’t solid enough reasons to adopt another new tool. Careful planning, evaluation, and an audit of what’s currently in your stack are crucial to identify the most sensible solution for your business—without these, more tools can easily add complications, go to waste, or run counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve.
If “shiny new tool” syndrome clouds the better judgment of your CMO or CEO, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. We’ll help you influence a more critical approach to tool adoption to maximize the return on your dollars and your time.
The real demands of new tools
Sometimes, leadership will advocate for a tool they’ve used in previous companies. While the solution may have the correct capabilities to solve the problem at hand, selective experience with a tool can cause decision-makers to view it through rose-colored glasses. If your CMO or CEO only began to use the tool after the implementation or ramp-up period were completed, they’re likely unaware of the more challenging elements of getting off the ground. the solution that leadership advocates for has the correct capabilities to solve the need at hand.
During the sales cycle, the complications of running a tool are often downplayed. Vendors might portray a solution as “out of the box” with minor setup, or demo a version of the tool with features, integrations, and reporting already well-established. In reality, the baseline you see in demos won’t be there when you first configure the tool. Ramp-up periods can be prohibitive, and 6 to 12 months down the line, you might be miles off achieving the results you were promised.
When the effort involved in managing a tool far outstrips expectations, and you haven’t planned to inherit the responsibility, that tool can sit in your stack gathering dust. Before leadership takes the plunge, advise them to wait until you’ve gathered feedback from current customers—get a real shot of truth about what it takes to onboard, implement, ramp up, maintain, and get results from the solution.
Leadership needs to know if any shift in headcount occurs from using the tool, whether customers are using it to accomplish what you’re aiming for, and the renewal vs. churn rate past the initial contract. Before your CMO reaches a decision, they should be able to answer key internal questions: What are the hours involved with adopting this tool? Who’s responsible? Do we have the budget to give that person additional compensation or to hire someone new to run point? Given our investment, what kind of revenue and productivity lift can we expect?
Tools are vehicles for results; to get anywhere, you need a driver. Getting a handle on the practicalities will help leadership identify if a tool is right for your needs or viable for your resources.
Evaluating your stack and the market
Mid-to-large organizations often lack a deep understanding of what’s in their tech stack. When departments have the size and autonomy to buy their own tools, there might be significant overlap between the functionalities of tools owned by different teams. If this is the case, leadership should explore the possibility of adopting a solution that your organization already uses.
To decide whether this is a good idea, review any documentation that outlines the tools in your workplace. If your organization already owns the functionality you’re after, speak with the tool owner and spend some time using the solution to get a sense of how appropriately it addresses your needs. An important point for leadership: you might find a tool that facilitates what you’re looking for, but not in the most competitive or sophisticated way.
For any internal or external tool you assess, establish where it stands in the market—is this solution best-in-class or tertiary in its lane? Can this tool evolve with your business and perform long-term? C-Suite’s are after the greatest possible ROI, and that comes by choosing the tool you’ll need five years from now.
To justify any technology investment, leadership needs a clear case for how it adds value. Confidence in how a tool’s functionalities and integrations work is crucial to making that assessment. If there’s a risk of integrations or data flows breaking down between updates, for instance, flag this to leadership; any manual processes or convoluted workarounds a tool introduces compromise your ROI. Conversely, a tool that’s less adept at generating revenue might save the team significant amounts of time; productivity gains that prove ROI.
The bottom line
The martech boom shows no signs of slowing down, which means plenty of noise to cut through. You’ll work smarter and achieve more with martech by being intentional; balance your current and long-term needs, size up the options in your stack and on the market, determine the ROI from adding a new tool into the mix, and plan carefully for how you’ll use it. Approach tool adoption with those principles, and you’ll make every dollar and hour count.
For any guidance on evaluating your tech stack or the martech landscape, Revenue Pulse is here to help.