In a recent webinar with Metadata.io Head of Community, Katie Ray and inSided VP of Marketing, Remco de Vries, we discussed strategies for getting internal buy-in and key things to think about in your vendor research process.
Want to see the webinar in full? Click here to watch it on-demand.
Takeaway 1: Look at your process through a sales lens
Katie says her sales experience was a huge asset when it came to getting internal buy-in at Clari. She created a list of internal stakeholders and tailored her community pitch based on the most value created for that particular role. “I look at who my buyer or persona is. If I need to talk to Professional Services, Support, Marketing, Customer Success or whoever, I looked at what was important to them. I let them ask questions and tried to be as well versed on the need for community as possible,” she says.
Takeaway 2: Leverage your community to choose the platform
Once you get the green light to do some initial research, get your community involved. We all know that building a community alongside your community is the key to success, so why not let them be involved in your discovery process? Katie says it’s a win-win situation. For your community, they can weigh in on the product and tell you what they like and don’t like. You can even ask them to join you for a demo of all products you’re looking at. For you, it can help make your case stronger for which platform is the best fit. She also points out it can be used as leverage to ask for a larger budget (if there is a majority vote for a more expensive platform).
Takeaway 3: Get the proper technical teams on your calls
So you’ve taken countless demo calls and found what seems to be the perfect platform for your community, only to find out that there are a few technical hiccups that haven’t been addressed. Katie knows from experience that it’s crucial to bring in your technical teams to ask questions that you may not think of. Whether it’s SSO or GDPR compliance, make sure all of your technical questions are squared away before you sign your contract. As Katie explains, having to ask technical teams to vet a platform after contracts have already been signed only leads to unwanted delays.
Takeaway 4: Ask yourself: will they be a good partner?
Another important criterion to consider that goes beyond whether the technology ticks all your feature boxes, is the partnership. Katie says not to overlook the relationship you have with your prospective vendor’s sales team. “If I feel comfortable and confident that it’s going to be a good relationship and partnership long-term, ultimately, that would trump everything for me,” she says. “If you’re seen as a valuable partner and we’re spending the right amount of money, then things will happen.”
Katie says great partners in the past (like inSided ), have even provided her with talk tracks and the resources to help make the case to her executive team.
Takeaway 5: Always ask for more!
It can be daunting to ask for a larger budget, but it’s always worth a shot. “Justify your number and ask for the number you want,” says Katie. “Bring data in your presentation. It could be looking at your various vendors and their costs for comparison. But equally as important is to play to what your manager’s ultimate goal is because then it supports their overall goal.”
Takeaway 6: Always make your case for community
If you’re currently in the midst of trying to start a community during uncertain economic times, you may be wondering whether all of this still applies. The answer is yes.
Katie stresses that having a customer community could be less expensive than onboarding a new CSM or Support team member, and even be more efficient with answering questions than the additional headcount.
We know that communities can help scale your business by delivering self-service, boosting engagement and advocacy, and helping you structure feature requests to increase adoption and NPS.
Even if you’re not a customer community but a community of practice, there’s a great value. “Everyone needs a safe space to come to. Everyone needs a community to brainstorm, and stay on top of trends,” Katie says. “Especially now, you need to understand your customers and prospects better and a community is a great place to do that.”
So take it from Katie when preparing to get your internal buy-in: do your homework, enlist your community for input, involve the right technical teams, appeal to your stakeholders, and never be scared to make the case for community.
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