Finding a solution to your IT team’s problem is a time-consuming effort. There are a lot of tools in the industry competing for your business.  Some may seem like a better fit than others, but you know your IT team, and are trusted by you superiors to make the right decision. So, your team has chosen a solution. Everyone is comfortable with the choice and you’re ready to begin the procurement process, there’s only one step left, convincing your higher ups that you and your team need this tool.  Now what?

When presenting an argument, it is important to remain authoritative.  You have been tasked in finding a solution for an issue your IT team is facing, meaning you’re an expert in this industry.  You sifted through tool upon tool, researching features and reading reviews. You have signed up for trials, imputed your info and finally settled on the solution you and your team want to use going forward.  The only issue is validating the price tag that comes along with the solution. When presenting your findings to your boss it is important to remember that your needs are valid, and your problems are valid. You are asking for a new tool for a reason, because it will help you do ____.  Researching tools has made you an expert in the subject, so act like one when meeting with your higher ups. You know what solution you want so position yourself to get it. Your bosses have probably not researched this area as much as you and your team have, so use that to your advantage. 

Selling a tool to your higher ups is easier said than done.  It’s critical to remember that no one understands your job better than you do. You know how to perform under pressure, what your average days look like and how much effort it was identifying the problem and selecting the tool that would best fit your team’s needs.  Your bosses may not have a firm understanding of this, simply because it isn’t their job. When proposing a new tool to them it is important for you to understand that they may never have been in your shoes, so help them to understand a day in the life of you. A day in the life of you that pushed you to need this product. Explain to them you and your team’s timeline of events. My content team has gone through this process, a lot.  So I sat down with them and asked some questions about the selection process, and their experiences selling solutions to their higher ups. They agreed that while the process may present itself as a challenge, proving that you have a problem and presenting a tool as the solution is an effective way of helping your higher ups understand your needs.

If you bring a solution in front of your superiors, they are going to want you to validate its purchase.  Budget’s are not endless unfortunately, and they get eaten up quickly. The higher ups what to know why they should spend money on this tool, and it’s your job to convince them to.  This might sound easier said than done. One of the biggest factors in their mind is the ROI this solution will bring. Can your team’s increased productivity because of this solution justify its price tag? They are going to want you to be direct, and specific.  You need to come back from every angle of questioning with a direct and specific answer, and it should make the case for what you want.  

It is important to show your superiors what differences this tool will make in the long run.  What time, resources and money will this tool save you in the long run? Will the solution pay for itself in terms of your team’s productivity? Remember to be specific.  Do the extra math to show how much money and time this could save you quarterly, then show an annual figure. Think ahead of your superiors and show them the data they were going to ask for next.  This will show them that you thought like them, and considered the savings.

Cleaning out your solutions closet will loosen up your budget, and will make a day in the life of you more manageable.  I asked my team if they preferred to use a cocktail of solutions or an all in one solution and they said that it is challenging to keep up with multiple workflows.  All in one solutions are easier to maintain, seeing that you do not have to constantly check multiple platforms throughout your day. Your all in one tool may do the tasks of one or two tools you already have, make sure to tell your bosses about this.  Explain to them how a mixture of tools is distracting to your team, and that they would perform better with an all in one solution.

If the tool is more on the expensive side show what cuts you can make to other areas of your budget to accommodate the new solution.  When I asked my team why we got rid of the last solution we used, they explained that it is because we weren’t using it enough to equal the monthly cost.  Getting rid of old tools, or solutions you aren’t using is a great way to not only cut costs, but also showing your bosses that you’re conscientious of your spending.  Get rid of unutilized services to show your higher ups that you want to make this new solution a budget priority.

Do not be afraid to compare products to each other.  Show your bosses the two solutions your team came down to, then show them why you went for the tool you’re presenting.  Maybe it had an extra feature that you just could not live without, or maybe the sales rep got you a good deal. Regardless, fill your higher-up in on what made you decide on this specific product.  Remember, they do not do your job, so let them in on a day in the life of you.       

Speaking of sales reps, they could be your best friend while trying to sell the tool to your superiors.  They want to be involved with this process. Read the situation, at the end of the day you know your boss better than them.  If you think the sales rep could help your case, and possibly answer some questions, that’s great. However, if you’re hesitant to bring them in, or think you can handle it yourself then by all means go ahead on your own.  They are there to help you, but you may feel as though your bosses would rather hear it from you then do not feel pressured from the sales rep to let them in on your decisions. However, you and the sales rep share a common goal, you want this solution, and they want to sell it to you.  They bring an area of expertise to the table, so it might be worth bringing them in.

While figures of potential savings and comparisons between tools are effective rhetorical strategies, there are other effective strategies that could help you make your case.  Throughout the research process, your team had to find and sign up for trials and demos of different products to find out which one was the best fit. What were you able to do in the trial of the solution you’re arguing for?  What were you able to accomplish in this trial that was unique or sealed the deal for this solution? Perhaps you were able to cut the total number of events in half or saved an incredible amount of time creating customizable dashboards.  Tell your boss about all that your team has been able to within a limited amount of trial time. Not only will it show them the potential of this tool outside or trial form, but it also again gives them insight into a day in the life of you, which in turn increases your authority.

As a network engineer, your first priority is often the network. As a higher up, their priority is often the customer.  While the customer is not always what you think of first when you walk into work every morning, show your superiors that your understand how important this tool could be from a customer’s point of view.  Show your bosses how this solution could improve the customer experience or how you could now offer new and improved services. Those are key metrics that are constantly going through your boss’s mind. This point will add to the persuasiveness to your argument, especially if you can tell the higher ups how the customer will experience a better service with the implementation of this new tool.

IT solutions are designed for the network engineer like you, but in a business setting you cannot make all of the purchasing decisions. While the solution was made for you, the ultimate purchasing power comes from the higher ups at your establishment, ones that might not have a full understanding of the problems you and your team face, and what solutions could make your team more effective.  The solutions company has already sold you on their product, now you need to sell it to the higher ups. Begin by giving them an overview of what a day in your work life looks like. Justify this purchase with the savings of time, resources and money over the long run. Talk about the other solutions you and your team found and why they were eliminated from your final consideration. Insure  you understand the company’s mission by explaining what the implementation of this tool means for your customers. Last but not least, be respectful. This process is never easy, but things tend to go smoother when there is a mutual understanding of authority and expertise. You are the expert, and they have the purse strings. Provide a strong and organized argument and your boss will make a decision that is best for your establishment going forward.

          

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