Even if management has heard of the benefits of enterprise social networking, they might not be sold on the idea. It’s important to get their buy-in from the get-go as they play a fundamental role in driving the transformational process.
In order to “sell” the idea to management, here are five areas to focus on…
Hone in on What Your Boss Wants
Put yourself in your manager’s place and figure out exactly what goals need to be met. Is it obtaining profits? Onboarding sales reps faster? Or, meeting investor and shareholders demands? Think about their current goals, then decide on which business objectives will help them meet their goals. (For further insight, look at these 6 Questions to Ask Before You Buy-In to Enterprise Social.)
Make sure to include high-level, company-wide objectives, so other teams and departments can benefit as well. The power of the network lies in collective knowledge sharing, idea sharing, expertise discovery and more, so think big picture. Ultimately the objective should catalyze a community. Once you have your top objectives, hone in on the expected return, why it’s worth investing. This leads us to our next question…
What’s the ROI?
At the end of the day, executives want real numbers. But, unless an organization has some sort of process-centric metric in place, hard ROI numbers are difficult to come by for most communication tools (just try to calculate the ROI of email or phone calls for that matter). However, we can provide an estimate for the kind of improvements your business will see. In general, businesses…
- Increase Productivity – by 25% company-wide
- Increase Access to Experts – by 30% across the board
- Onboard Employees Faster – 77% experience faster access to knowledge
- Reduce Expenses – 40% report reduced operating costs
- Improve Innovation – 20% create more successful products and services
- Increase Customer Satisfaction – by 50% through collective knowledge sharing
- Cut Travel Costs – by up to 44%
Along with these statistics, it helps to include examples of how businesses have experienced quantifiable benefits. Here are a few to illustrate:
- In just 6 months after deploying a social platform, Cordelta, a professional services company, realized a 30% improvement in internal communication response times.
- Apache Corp., an oil and drilling company, uses enterprise social networking to crowd source answers to problems in an effort to cut over $700 million spent on trouble costs. Drilling advisor Randy Wagner said, “tibbr [enterprise social networking] has come at exactly the right time to get in there to make sure we know what’s going on with folks around the world and cut that 25% trouble cost.”
- iHealth Trust, a nonprofit organization in the healthcare sector, is helping the average health practice group save 50-70k a year by removing the need to fax patient referrals. As a replacement, the organization has over 12,000 physicians receive online medical referrals on an enterprise social network, where they can collaborate more effectively.
Anticipate the obstacles
Managers are great at foreseeing problems with a new project. As soon as you’ve decided on the most significant business benefits, try to figure out possible issues you might run into. Then provide a solution for each one. To get your head in the game, check out our article “3 Myths About Enterprise Social Networking Dispelled,” which will give you all of the information you need to address foreseeable obstacles.
Never Go Into Battle Alone
Before rolling out a social platform your manager wants to know whose onboard, so it’s critical to rally support from senior managers. Reach out to someone your manager trusts, like the head of HR or the director of sales. Sales managers and HR managers alike are always looking for new ways to onboard employees faster. Getting the right senior management involved will show the value of the project cross-functionally. Ultimately the best results from enterprise social come from a mix of audience-specific and company-wide initiatives. So proving that the senior managers see the value in this will only enhance your argument.
Time to Inspire
No matter how good your data is, how you present it to executives managers is everything. Along with showing how enterprise social will solve their business problems and illustrating real ROI-examples and figures, make them feel that the project is theirs to own and lead. Outline steps for how they can meet with various departments and executives to bring them on-board. Most social networks grow quickly, but need a little word-of-mouth marketing from the get-go. Show them how they can spearhead this company-wide initiative.
There you go. We hope we’ve given you all of the tips you need to approach executive management. If you have more questions, feel free to send us a tweet @tibbr.