Often, dealmakers know that an industry-specific CRM and technology upgrade would save them time, money, and effort in their everyday workflows — but their colleagues and leadership either don’t see the potential benefits or don’t believe they’re significant enough to justify a change.
Paola Yawney, Balfour Pacific’s Head of Business Development, knows the feeling. “I tried for the longest time to get my previous team to adopt a CRM to organize and manage all our important relationships and deal data,” she says.
Identifying the need for upgraded technology and finding the appropriate solution for your firm is one feat — but convincing additional stakeholders and decision makers to buy in is another. Here, we share several clients’ successful approaches to help you to build and present your case for pursuing new technology and an industry specific CRM.
Research your technology options
To build her case for change, one commercial real estate (CRE) dealmaker began by researching the available tools on the market. She made a list of solutions, features, firm pain points, and different ways that various competing systems solved for those challenges. She attended industry conventions to build relationships and learn about sector trends.
Every time this client visited an industry event, she made sure to attend discussions, presentations, and panels that covered today’s tools. She also sought out the DealCloud promotional booth to ask what new features were being built or planned for commercial real estate investment teams.
When it was finally time for her team to upgrade, much of the legwork was behind our dealmaker: The due diligence of shopping around was mostly done. Her research had also prepared her to answer stakeholder questions with confidence and accuracy. Removing this barrier helped her convince her partners to approach the new technology with an open mind.
Takeaway: If you have to wait, keep learning in the meantime
As inefficiencies mount at your firm, you may have to balance your diligence with patience. But like our CRE dealmaker, you don’t have to sit idle while your colleagues hesitate. Instead, stay abreast of news, product releases, and use cases from popular technology publishers. Then, when you hear your partners complain about the roadblocks hindering them from adopting new deals, you’ll be ready to share specific, detailed examples of ways the right system can help them overcome those barriers.
Create and maintain a sense of urgency
A senior banker at a top bulge bracket knew his firm needed to upgrade its information systems to help its dealmakers work more efficiently and effectively. He also knew that in order to convince his directors to make the change, he needed to help them understand the importance and urgency of the initiative — and that it was up to him to create and maintain that sense of immediate need.
His first move was to add specificity to the pain points he saw and heard about internally. He set out to benchmark how many hours his team logged on data extraction, manipulation, and formatting work. He timed analysts and associates who manually compiled reports every Friday for their Monday morning staff meetings. Then, he noted common problems that arose in the Monday meetings, paying particular attention to setbacks that could have been solved with more relevant and up-to-date information.
Next, he estimated what these inefficiencies were costing the team in hours, then he documented the opportunity costs — specifically, activities his team members could have been completing instead, as well as what those competitive moves could have done for the team and the firm. (Some of his conclusions were hypothetical, but since much of his team’s work involved modeling scenarios, he knew his stakeholders would appreciate the workflow mockup.)
The banker didn’t stop at listing the missed internal opportunities — he also documented the competitive disadvantage of analog or partially digitized processes. He learned about relevant transactions that moved quickly and generated alpha, and he reached out to the professionals involved to learn what technologies and processes enabled that kind of deal velocity. And he kept an eye out for studies and reports focused on the use of technology in private capital markets. All together, his research helped him develop a robust argument in favor of new, firm-wide, purpose-built software adoption and use.
Takeaway: Apply positive pressure
This senior investment banker’s approach is a great example of how to build and maintain your case while staying positive — championing change without vocalizing negativity. Continually talk up the opportunities for your group without criticizing the tools and processes currently in place. With specific data and examples at hand, you’ll be prepared for questions and can demonstrate your diligence and commitment to a successful initiative. For example, if leadership were to ask how much time your team wastes chasing down scattered information that could instead be stored centrally, you could offer a solid estimate — showing them that they’re not alone in their curiosity and that you’ve already proactively researched the answer.
Offer to lead implementation and change management
Often, the biggest barrier to a technology implementation is that everyone is already extremely busy with timely, critical work, and it seems there’s no time to learn a new system. In particular, team and firm leaders— those ultimately responsible for system changes and upgrades — often prefer not to spend time researching potential technologies that might not ever be adopted.
To combat this hurdle, an analyst at a private equity (PE) house in health care offered to help select his firm’s new solution — as well as lead its implementation and adoption.
This intrepid junior staffer learned about the internal inefficiencies his team members struggled with, as well as the opportunities available to them if they were able to overcome those challenges. Next, he learned how technology could help his sponsor group capture, centralize, and democratize information and streamline cumbersome processes. Then he watched demonstrations of three different information management tools to learn more about the purpose-built products available on the market.
Then the analyst did something unusual that ultimately convinced his general partners (GPs) to agree to the technology adoption: He learned what the implementation’s change management would involve, and he offered to run point. His process involved 8 steps:
- He shared his findings with the firm’s partners and VPs, then developed a plan to share them with the whole organization.
- He assembled a guiding coalition of leaders to help him champion the change.
- He developed a realistic roll-out plan with guidance from the new system’s sales team.
- He rolled out the plan to the entire organization with the help of his guiding coalition.
- He identified barriers to adoption and worked with managers to remove those procedural speed bumps.
- He highlighted wins that teams achieved along the way to each goalpost.
- He worked with the system’s publishing company to share how his team was using the tool and to get their recommendations for how his group could best leverage additional features.
- He shared best practices via the group’s onboarding materials, training manuals, and performance analyses.
Today, the sponsor group runs a tight, efficient operation known for highly profitable deals. And that once-junior analyst is now a principal at the buyer firm he helped transform.
Takeaway: Lead but delegate
This enterprising analyst knew that he couldn’t (and didn’t need to) change everyone’s behavior himself. Instead, he realized that successful change management empowers others to effect change within their circles of influence.
If you’re looking for a new, high-impact way to demonstrate your leadership potential, consider volunteering to lead the implementation of a new technology. You could end up spearheading a major change that supports future wins for everyone on your team.
Choose your approach based on your partners
Champions of change like you may wonder which approach to take. Do you educate yourself about all the technologies available today and make recommendations? Do you document your firm’s inefficiencies and what you stand to gain if you transform together? Do you offer to take charge of the administration when a new tool is adopted, easing your leaders’ workloads?
The answer depends on who you’re working with. Think back on your history of collaborating on deals together. What have other team members used to convince your partners of something? Do your partners respond to changing markets, competitive rivals, or something else? Your answers to these questions will help guide you as you decide how exactly to build and present your case.
We’re here to help. To learn more about how dealmakers are leveraging technology to get more done and win more fruitful deals, subscribe to DealCloud’s newsletter today.