The new year brought a new budget, new strategies, and new game plans. You set your sights on specific targets and plotted a course for success. Then reality set in. Things came up. Markets shifted. People went elsewhere. You’re still committed to those outcomes, but you’ve got to do some course corrections.
For example, suppose you’ve recently plugged another tool into your tech stack. You’re seeing a little traction here and there, but there’s still so little, the tool isn’t delivering as much value as you expected. You don’t want to waste time or money on things that don’t work, so how long should you let this investment ride before calling in support or pulling the plug?
A growing sense of urgency
Everyone’s been playing relatively fast and loose with their MarTech budgets for years. Shiny new tool promising fantastic results with minimal additional effort? Where do we sign, right? Except, deep down inside, we all know it’s seldom that easy.
Reality has finally set in and we’re starting to see the purse strings tighten. There’s an urgency to see results. And we want to see those results as quickly as possible. That means, if you’re not seeing the results you expected, you’ve got four choices:
- Pull the plug, eat the loss, and try again.
- Tap an independent expert to figure out what’s wrong (& fix it).
- Get the vendor’s customer success team on the phone to fix it.
- Do nothing and let it ride.
Pull the plug
Never an easy call, this one. Before you turn out the lights, you’ll want to do a deep, deep dive into things and perform a comprehensive post-mortem investigation. If you’re pulling the plug, you’re probably out a considerable amount of money. You want to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice! It’s also possible you’ll realize you, personally, didn’t fully understand what you were getting into when you signed the contract–which always stings.
A silver lining, though. In that deep dive, there’s a chance you might discover something internal you can fix that turns it all around, too. A missed typo or checkbox could solve everything, or you could find it’s only a matter of workflow and training. Granted, these should have been caught long ago, but if there’s a chance to salvage the investment, you’re probably not going to turn it down.
Call the vendor
You’ve probably already had several conversations with the vendor’s customer success team. Even so, this is a good time to bring them into the loop. Let them know things aren’t going as well as you expected and that you’d like them to investigate to tell you why. They’re likely to uncover the same sort of things you would have in your own post-mortem, above, but with the deepest possible understanding of the product, they’re likely to zero-in on trouble and offer solutions more quickly.
A couple notes on this one. If they suggest changes to the way your team does business, you’ll have to weigh the cost of changing how things are done internally against possible upgrades and/or pulling the plug. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for your business, long term. If they don’t seem interested in helping you get the most from their product, you might be better off bailing out and starting over after all.
Tap an expert
An independent, third party expert. Someone who’s been there, done that, and has the battle scars to prove it. You’re looking for someone deeply familiar with both the technology and strategies involved; someone who can perform a thorough investigation and either propose solutions or execute them for you.
Sunk cost is a thing—and so is sunk cost fallacy. If you’re worried your $100,000 tech stack investment isn’t paying off, it’s only natural to be hesitant to throw any more “good” money after what feels like “bad” money. Without getting into the ins and outs of contract disputes, this one basically boils down to a simple question:
Which costs more money?
- Scrapping and replacing what you’ve already got?
- Spending a little bit more to make it work the way it should?
[ Disclosure: We would very much like to be your hired gun in situations like this. While you can find inexpensive contractors ready, willing, and able to step in and lay their hands on specific pieces of your tech stack, your best chance of success comes from partnering with a consultancy that understands how your tech stack bridges the gap between strategy and tactics (and ROI). This is what we do best and, with thousands of implementations under our collective belt, we’re up for any challenge. ]
Let it ride
Sometimes you just gotta let it ride. It can be nerve-wracking, logging in day after day and seeing little to no results. But sometimes you really do have to ride it out.
I asked Fabian Eckstrom-French, Head of Agency Partnerships, at Bizible (one of our tech stack partners, by the way), if he had any rule-of-thumb-type thoughts on how long you should expect to wait for those mission critical results. He told me what he sees in mid-market, B2B marketing teams heavily invested in software, “One to two sales cycles to implement, onboard, and collect meaningful data. Then one sales cycle to start seeing impact of optimizations.”
Depending on the length of your sales cycle, you could be waiting quite a while! Consider spending that time pitying the fools who let their tech stacks dictate their strategies. They’ll get theirs in due time.
We’re almost halfway through the year.
Further, depending on your fiscal year. You started the year with clear objectives and a plan to achieve them. As you engage in course corrections to keep things on-track, make sure you’re getting to the root of anything pushing you off course—and solve those problems as quickly as possible, once and for all.
Let it Ride: Where are my results?
That’s our theme for May 2017. We’ve got posts coming up around clearing a path to revenue through tech stack debt, the customer-vendor honeymoon, engagement time, getting IT buy-in for MarTech initiatives, and more. We’ve even got a handy budget calculator tool coming up this month.
If you’re after Results That Frankly Matter (#RTFM), you might want to stick around. In the meantime, what’s YOUR rule of thumb for knowing when to pivot vs. when to persevere? Leave us a comment and let us know!