TMCnet Feature
September 14, 2020

Helpful Techniques for Getting Company-Wide Buy-In With New Technology

It’s easy for a company to get stuck in its ways - especially if the key decision makers in the organization are risk-averse and traditional in their thought patterns. But it’s your job to continually ensure the business is staying modern and nimble with its innovation. And therein lies the friction.

4 Ways to Encourage Buy-In at the Top

As much as they might claim otherwise, change isn’t something that most people aren’t fond of. People prefer routine, consistency, and doing more of the same. This is especially true in corporate settings where change can mean risk (which ultimately means accountability if something goes wrong).

So when you bring new technology to key decision makers in your business, it often requires some careful coaxing to get them on board with your plan. Here are a few helpful suggestions to put you on the right path toward adoption:

1. Get People On Board

Before digging into some of the other tips for encouraging top-level buy-in, let’s be clear about one thing: You must get support at every level. Create a vision and sell it to everyone involved, including the workers.

“Many leaders don’t adequately relay the right messaging through the ranks, leaving personnel feeling disinterested and aloof,” entrepreneur and business owner Daniel Newman writes. “As much as management likes the idea of a solution, if employees fight against adoption, they’ll face a long and uphill battle to meet their goals.”

We’re going to discuss this in much greater detail in the following section, but it’s important to begin by seeing how influential this aspect is in actually getting buy-in in the executive suite.

2. Lead With the Bottom Line

At risk of sounding brash and insensitive, let’s be clear about the fact that business owners and executives really only care about one thing: the bottom line. If you can prove that new technology will have a net positive impact on profitability, you’ll make your job a whole lot easier.

Let’s say, for example, that you work for a national food and beverage brand. Your company’s products are spread all across the United States in a variety of supermarkets and convenience stores. And while there’s a backend system that has some reporting features to track contacts and inventory, it’s cumbersome and difficult to use. Plus, there’s no way for customers to access that information. So you want to present a store locator solution to the CEO and his staff.

In a situation like this, it’s not enough to say, “Hey, we should buy a store locator solution.” You actually need to dig in and tell a story about how it’ll impact the bottom line. Because that’s what the CEO truly cares about. So you say, “This store locator solution provides real grocery data, insightful analytics, individual product listings, and a customizable interface that’s been shown to boost revenue by an average of XX percent in the first 12 months.”

Decision makers want specifics. Any time you can add tangible benefits and actual data, you’re going to exponentially increase your chances of buy-in.

3. Six Degrees of Innovation

A team from Cambridge Judge Business School took the time to interview senior executives of numerous international companies in a wide range of industries. They uncovered six patterns that they believe are indicative of successful technology transformation:

  • Custom products and services that meet the unique needs of the consumers
  • Sustainable practices (like reducing energy costs or recycling)
  • Utilizing peer-to-peer sharing to lower costs
  • Only paying for timely and necessary services
  • Effective monitoring of supply chains
  • Tracking data points to adapt to evolving customer needs

According to the study, a technology that fulfills one or more of these “degrees” is considered innovative and worth investing in. Use these degrees as a measuring stick to justify whether or not you’re on the right path. If the answer is a clear yes, use it as motivation to continue.

4. Explain the Costs of Not Acting

Loss aversion refers to the tendency people have to prefer avoiding losses to actually acquiring an equivalent gain. The simplest example of this is the fact that a business owner would rather not lose $500 than generate $500 in revenue.

Use this concept to your advantage by explaining the costs of not acting. In other words, communicate the consequences of continuing the status quo and ignoring innovation and adaptation.

3 Ways to Convince Skeptical Employees to Adopt New Tech

As mentioned, buy-in at the upper levels of the corporate ladder doesn’t mean much if the foot soldiers - the ones carrying out the work - aren’t on board with the new technology, software, or tool. During and after implementation, you’ll have to convince skeptical employees to adopt this new technology so that you’re able to achieve all of the benefits and objectives you’ve laid out for the key decision makers.

Here are a few tips:

1. Get “Influencers” On Board First

Think about how new trends move through a high school. They start with the people who have social influence and pull and then gradually trickle down the line to everyone else. The same is true in an organization. If you can get the influencers in your organization to be evangelists for the new technology, people will follow.

“Don’t just pick the geeks – those who are most interested in technology,” says Didier Bonnet, author and leadership consultant. “You want people who are able to work horizontally across the organization and who have good communication and networking skills.”

When you have C-suite buy-in combined with a stable of supportive influencers, the rest of your job becomes fairly easy and straightforward.

2. Choose User-Friendly Tech

Limit friction as much as possible. Choose user-friendly tech tools that are simple for people to pick up and adopt. If something requires hours of technical analysis and training, you’ll stymie your results from the very start.

3. Customize Training

Familiarity with technologies varies widely. You’ll have some employees who can pick up a new piece of software right away and begin using it. Others will have trouble even logging into the system.

Think of team members as existing on a spectrum. At one end you have people who don’t need much help (if any). At the other end you have people who will need their hand held every step of the way. Then there are people at every level in between.

To be successful with implementation and adoption, customize training solutions so that they reflect these differences. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of boring the people who already know what they’re doing or overlooking the ones that need the most help.

Learn to Push the Right Buttons

It’s not enough to identify the right technology your business needs to grow. (In fact, that’s the easy part.) You must learn to become more persuasive in your approach and push the correct buttons so that there’s buy-in at every level of the organization, from the very top all the way to the bottom rungs of the ladder.

Let this article serve as a starting point to help you learn how to encourage buy-in where it matters most. As you gain more experience, you’ll determine which techniques do and don’t work in your organization and the results will follow.

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