Leadership Buy-In two

Heey there,

Ever felt like you’re speaking a different language
when trying to get leadership buy-in for a complex solution? 🤔

I think we all have.

That's why I think Glenn Vanderlinden's advice on translating “data talk” into “business talk,” can help all of us when it comes to making complex solutions digestible for business leaders.

Besides the nice marketing & business insights, Glenn has a lovely story about how his Grandpa cycled 320kms during the early days of WW2. Give it a listen.

But first.

Do you know which company first coined the term "Proof of Concept"?

I'll let you know at the end of today's course.

However, if you find these insights valuable, the best way to support our work is by inviting your friends to become Dot Connecters and learn more about Connecting The Dots between marketing activities and financial goals.

Topic Of Today

  • 🎙 Episode Highlight: Getting that Buy-in

  • 📚 Deep Dive: Breaking Down Complex Solutions

  • 📌 Actionable Advice

  • 📚 Homework

  • 💡 Pro Tip

📽️Connecting The Dots: Translating Data Talk to Business Talk📽️

In a recent episode of Connecting The Dots, Glenn Vanderlinden shares insights on how to gain leadership buy-in by breaking down complex solutions into smaller, more digestible use cases or “user stories.”

  1. 🎙 An Episode Highlight: Getting that Buy-in

Glenn talks about defining clear user stories to help business leaders understand the impact of using data in decision-making.

He mentions two scenarios: one where business leaders know they need to leverage data but don’t know how, and another where mid-level employees understand the value of data but struggle to communicate this to top-level management.

The thing is, while Glenn talks about data projects, the same ideas can be applied to any complex solution.

Key Takeaways:

1. Define clear User Stories:
If you want an easier time when it comes to getting your initiatives through upper-level leaders, break down broad questions into specific user stories to clarify what the business really wants to achieve with each motion.

2. Show the impact:
Top-level leaders will mostly be interested in how a certain motion affects overall business goals. By demonstrating the impact of a single user story, top management can understand the concrete use case and see the value in leveraging a certain motion for long-term goals.

3. Build a User Story Catalogue
Glenn suggests creating a catalogue of user stories that can drive impact in your organisation, either from a bottom-up or top-down approach.

Purpose of a User Story Catalogue 👇

👉 Clarity and Focus:
It provides a clear & focused guide on what needs to be developed or improved, helping teams to stay aligned on user needs and business goals.

👉 Prioritisation:
It aids in prioritising which user stories (and thus, features or improvements) should be worked on first based on their impact, value, and feasibility.

👉 Tracking Progress:
It serves as a tool to track the progress of the development of features or improvements and ensures that nothing important is overlooked.

👉 Facilitating Communication:
It fosters better communication and understanding among cross-functional teams, ensuring everyone has a shared understanding of the goals and requirements.

👉 Impact Measurement:
It allows for the measurement of the impact of implemented user stories on the organisation's goals, helping in the continuous improvement & refinement of strategies.

Example of User Story Catalog Entries:

👉 Marketing Team:
“As a digital marketer, I want to track the user journey across different touchpoints so that I can optimise the conversion funnel.”

👉 Product Team:
“As a product manager, I want to analyse user interactions with our app’s new feature so that I can enhance its functionality and user experience.”

👉 Sales Team:
“As a sales representative, I want to have insights into the prospect's behaviour and preferences so that I can tailor my approach to be more effective.”


It can be used to communicate the value and impact of specific initiatives to leadership, helping in gaining buy-in by showing how attending each user story can solve problems or optimise processes.

Also, teams can refer to this catalogue to understand and work on specific user stories during their sprint cycles.

In the context of Glenn’s example, a User Story Catalogue can be particularly useful in breaking down complex data-driven goals into more tangible, understandable, and actionable items.

Thus it aids in securing leadership buy-in by demonstrating the potential impact of each user story on organisational objectives.

Or in simpler terms: if leaders see that your motions help solve specific issues that in turn propel business growth, they'll be more than happy to vouch for your solutions in scale.

2. 📚 Deep Dive: Breaking Down Complex Solutions

Now let's see how & why it makes sense to do this.

User Stories as a way to build your Martech Stack:
Glenn’s article from Human37 focuses on user stories in building out marketing technology stacks. For instance, a user story could be about how a specific marketing tool can optimise ad spend, providing a clear, relatable scenario that demonstrates the tool’s value.

This aligns well with his approach to defining clear user stories for data use cases, making complex solutions more understandable for business leaders.

Running a successful Proof of Concept:
The article talks about setting clear timelines, getting leadership buy-in, and declaring definitive success criteria when running a proof of concept.

It focuses on looking at solutions from the viewpoint of stakeholders and making sure that expectations are clear before starting. A key part of that is the joint identification of milestones, key events, deliverables, business objectives etc. before starting.

For example, if you’re proposing a new CRM system, create a PoC (small-scale example) that demonstrates how it can improve customer relationship management & what the expected outcomes are and how success will be measured.
Making it easier for leadership to understand, overview and support.

Building Support & Buy-in:
This guide again talks about the benefits of using PoCs for leadership buy-in. What's more, they distinguish PoCs from prototypes as well as demonstrate the differences between PoC applications in different departments and the 4 stages of setting one up.

12 expert tips for developing a successful PoC:
A few takeaways from this article.

Stick to the essentials and Keep it Simple:
Choose your scope wisely, focusing only on essential items that demonstrate the value of investment.

Simplifying the complex is crucial, especially when written by technical experts. Show how things work simply and in detail.

Understand the Purpose and Constrain the scope:
Understanding why you are developing a proof of concept is key.
By constraining the scope, you can quickly iterate and come to the desired conclusion before moving to the next phase.

Do thorough research and address Pain Points:
Doing your due diligence is a must.

You have to clearly understand your customer’s pain points and come up with potential solutions that can be beta-tested within your business.

Frame it from the listener’s Point of View:
Phrase proofs of concept from the listener’s point of view.
Relate to the stakeholders’ reality and near-term future objective to make the connection to the now in a way that is understood.

Meaning: as per my previous point » they are mostly interested in how that solution makes the business go forward. So focus on that, even if it mostly helps you.

Focus on reducing risk & include clear success metrics:
The primary objective of a proof of concept is to reduce risk.
Include clear success metrics to make the proof of concept more focused and beneficial.
Align these with leadership.

Clarify the project’s usage and next steps:
Make sure that the ones who judge your work are aware of exactly what it does and does not do.

Educate others about the work to be done before that proof of concept can be turned into a product.

Be prepared to make revisions:
Be ready to change things in your proof of concept based on feedback from the ones who evaluate your work.

After a few revisions, you should have a polished proof of concept that you can use to sell your next idea.

3. 📌 Actionable Advice

Start with Clear User Stories:

Before proposing any solution or project, define clear and concise user stories that demonstrate the value and impact of your proposition.

Develop a Proof of Concept:

Once you have your user stories, create a small-scale example or prototype that demonstrates how your solution can address the user stories and what the expected outcomes are. Keep it simple, stick to the essentials, and focus on reducing risk.

Demonstrate impact:

Demonstrate the impact of your solution on the organisation's goals and objectives. Use tangible metrics and real-world scenarios to make your case stronger. Align these with leadership values to gain their support.

Seek feedback and iterate:

Present your user stories and proof of concept to relevant stakeholders and seek their feedback. Be open to making revisions based on their input and refine your proposition until it aligns with their expectations and needs.

Communicate in "stakeholder’s language":

When presenting your proposition, use the language and terminology that your stakeholders understand. Relate your solution to their reality and near-term objectives to make a connection. 

👉 don't overcomplicate things, just show what & why you want to do, and show it's impact on things that matter to your leaders

4. 📚 Homework:

Develop Clear User Stories:
Work on breaking down broad, vague questions into specific, clear user stories that define what you want to achieve with data.

Create a Proof of Concept:
Develop a proof of concept for a single user story and demonstrate its impact to gain buy-in from leadership.

Build a User Story Catalog:
Start creating a catalogue of user stories that can drive impact in your business and help in gaining leadership buy-in.

When dealing with complex solutions and trying to gain leadership buy-in, a picture is often worth a thousand words.

Use diagrams, charts, and other visual aids to make your user stories and proofs of concept more understandable and compelling.

Visualisation can help in breaking down complex ideas into simpler, digestible pieces, making it easier for leadership to see the value and impact of your proposition.

Of course, you don't have to make it dumb. But you can help leaders follow your ideas if you visually map them.

Fun fact answer:  The term "Proof of Concept" was first coined by Bruce Carsten in the late 1960s, a notable figure in the field of electronics and has contributed significantly to the development of power supply technology.

Isn't that just fun?

I mean I know that's not super fun, but it does tell you something about a framework that managed to stay relevant after 60 years.

Keep learning and growing! 🚀 ❤️

New episodes of Connecting The Dots Business Companion are coming out regularly, so stay tuned.

Subscribe to our podcast and keep an eye on your inbox for the next edition of our newsletter as well.

LinkedIn posts worth reading this week:

1. Getting better at posting on Linkedin
Mark Kosglow's system for making posting easy & fun.

2. 30% to 78% user onboarding in 6 months
The introduction of flexible funnels.

3. Onboarding a new colleague
Why onboarding material socks?

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