5 steps to building a winning tech project proposal

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Hey, senior directors of email marketing and people who own email — this column’s for you! And not just for you. It will be helpful for any executive looking to sell the company decision-makers on a new tech or development project.

5 steps to building a winning tech project proposal

I’m assuming that like every mid-level executive, you’re looking at your projections right now and what you’ve done over the last eight months and wondering whether you’ll make your numbers over the next four months.

Back in January, your plans reflected ambitious goals for 2018. Now, you’re worried about how accurate your models were. You’re resorting to the dreaded “hope” strategy. As in, “I hope this works because I need to make my numbers!”

The good news is that you still have time to adjust your plan before you have to lock your tech down.

If you see a gap growing between where you need to be at the end of the year and where it looks like you’re going, propose a project to your tech or development team that will help you bridge it. But creating a proposal that will win approval will take more than dashing a few lines off.

These five tactics can help you create a project proposal that’s more likely to win the tech-development lottery this year:

1. Verify all systems are ‘go’

Before you think about ways to make up the shortfall, make sure it didn’t happen because something broke in your email or on your website. I’ve seen this more times than I can count. Audit everything from opt-in through unsubscribe, purchases and other transactions, and check all integrations to be sure everything’s working the way it should.

You don’t want your program to suffer because something broke and you didn’t discover or fix it.

Once you verify all systems are running properly, you can start building your proposal.

2. Include your successes in your proposal

What can pave your way to a “yes” is proving that what you do mints money for the company – or achieves whatever KPI you need.

Include your successes in your proposal as proof of what you and your team have previously accomplished when given resources. This focuses people on your success story, showing how you can achieve the goals you set.

Keep the narrative short and sweet, but include real numbers and graphics to show your achievement. Add customer testimonials or whatever you need to bolster your case.

Remember that you’re in stiff competition with lots of other people who are besieging your IT folks, saying, “I need this and this and that.” Don’t just say, “I need this.” Frame it as “The company needs this.”

By showing that you have succeeded in the past, you stand a better chance of convincing them that the time and effort they put into your projects are more likely to pay off.
5 steps to building a winning tech project proposal

3. Define why your plan is falling short

Identify what went wrong with your projections. What didn’t happen that should have? Was it opens, clicks, conversions, deployments, average order value, total sales?

Defining why the gap happened will inform what you do next. You need to know this because that’s what you must communicate to people to persuade them to act on your request.

In a previous column, I wrote about the value of keeping a “monster dashboard” of your key numbers. Now is when that tool comes in handy. You’ll use it to pull your numbers together quickly and easily.

Use it to gather the proof you need to support the reasons you’re requesting resources for your project.

4.  Define how much time you need

This also informs your strategy and boosts your request. Be realistic. Your work ticket is one of many for your tech group, and their time is finite.

Talk to your tech people and do a little intel. Ask to see the other requests awaiting consideration. You don’t want to be the person who drops a project request needing 100 hours of work when they have only 10 to give you. You’ll look foolish and unprepared.

5.  Develop your project request

Use the information you’ve already gathered and include the things you need to accomplish, why you expect to fall short on revenue and what will produce the KPI you need.

This could be a new trigger, or a set of triggers, that launch post-purchase or an email that’s sent after acquisition. If you’re in B2B and not seeing enough raw leads converting to marketing-qualified leads, think of an education tactic that will persuade more leads to stay on the path.

Also, define what you control and what your tech group controls. An onboarding series could be easy to create because you can see those acquisitions in your email platform.

But, if you want a post-purchase triggered email, you might need additional information. Check with alternate sources. If you want to try a next-logical-product trigger to drive a follow-on sale, your product team might be able to use an API to pull that data.
5 steps to building a winning tech project proposal

But wait! There’s more!

Don’t hit “send” just yet. Two more steps will make your project proposal more success-worthy:

1. Build consensus before approval

Approach the decision-influencers individually before the group gets together to discuss your project. Explain what you need and what outcome you expect. Try to get as many people on your side as possible, so that when you go into your project meeting, you have the key influencers on board.

2. Say ‘thank you’ afterward

Flash forward three months. Your project got approved, it’s working the way you had hoped, and your projections are back on target. Score!

Now, go around and thank the people who helped you get there. Show them how the project worked out and how it contributed to success for your organization.

This helps you build a reputation as someone who knows what he or she is doing. Plus, everyone likes to be appreciated, especially if they had to go the extra mile to kick out your project on time. All of this influences the perception and development of your personal brand in your organization.

Wrapping up: Start the process

Take the time right now to check your data and think about what you need to do and how to get there. Most marketers I know are already preparing for the holidays. Not just thinking about themes and messages but also whether they’re going to make their numbers.

The sooner you know you have to deal with a potential shortfall, and the more you know your business inside and out, the sooner you can create a plan with a strong chance for successfully winning over internal stakeholders as well as customers and prospects.

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