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How to Sell Your Digital Projects to Your Healthcare C-suite

Learn tried-and-proven tips for convincing your executive team it’s time for a new website or CMS.

So many of us have been there. Your marketing team is stuck using an outdated content management system. Your hospital’s website looks dated and isn’t meeting the needs of your growing mobile audience.

The fact is, you need a new website or a new CMS, but you’re having trouble selling the project to your boss or to others across your health system or hospital. Perhaps no one understands the value of the site, or they don’t understand that your frustrations are costing the organization. More likely, when the web comes up against higher-priority projects and battles for those sacred budget dollars, it just falls a bit short.

So how can you effectively get past potential objections and competing priorities and get the support and funding you need? These ideas can help.

How to successfully sell your website or CMS project

The best defense is a strong offense. It’s an overused phrase, perhaps, but it’s often quoted because it’s typically true about most things in life – including sports and tough sells at the office.

The number one thing you can do to ensure success in selling your project internally is to be prepared.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Well, that’s a given!” But the reality is, preparation doesn’t always happen effectively. It’s really easy to get excited about a project and expect that others will share your enthusiasm.

Passion alone – while very helpful! – isn’t likely to garner approval. You’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get others on board through good old-fashioned planning and hard work.

Here are some tips based on my 20 years of experience managing digital projects at hospitals and health systems.

Tip #1: Anticipate objections and questions

Start by identifying the primary questions and objections you’re likely to encounter, then weave answers and counter-points to those questions and objections thoughtfully into your pitch so you can address them proactively.

For example:

  • If cost is going to be a primary objection (and when isn’t it?!), be prepared to discuss how your new CMS or redesign will help save the organization money in the long-term. The initial investment is likely to be significant, so off-setting any sticker shock with a longer-term view is helpful.
    • If the new CMS will allow for integration with your CRM system or to more easily calculate ROI so you can prove return, be sure to share that and speak to how. Your organization also likely invested a lot in the CRM system, so showing how you can get more and better value out of an already purchased platform can help too.
    • Show that you considered less expensive options or other vendors – if you did – for all or parts of your project (writing, design, hosting, support, etc.). In other words, show that you did your due diligence. If you didn’t select the least expensive option or didn’t go out to RFP, be prepared to discuss why and explain the value the more expensive option offers over the alternatives. If you already have a relationship with the vendor you want to work with, point to their reliability, partnership, and strengths that will continue to benefit your organization.
  • If resource constraints are a concern, talk about what your internal team will be tasked with doing, what your vendor will do, and how much time you anticipate needing from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), I.T., and others. Get as specific as you can and clearly articulate what role you’ll need them to play in the project and, if you can, quantify the amount of time, as well. If your vendor will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting, talk about how, by being an extension to your team, that will free you up to work on other projects – particularly ones that are important to your executives but that you just haven’t had time for. If your vendor will be doing work your I.T. team might normally do – thus creating capacity for other I.T. priorities – make sure to share that, too.

Proactively anticipating key stakeholders’ questions and potential objections will result in your project having a far greater chance of approval and funding.

Tip #2: Show a direct tie to organizational strategy

Executives and high-level leaders have a duty to ensure an organization meets its goals and objectives, and showing them exactly how your project will help meet one or more of them is a must. (Bonus points if you can show how your project will also make their lives easier or help them look good!)

Clearly articulating how a new website or a new CMS supports your health system’s goals and objectives not only proves to decision makers that you’re a strategic thinker, but that you understand the big picture.

For example, if one of your organization’s goals is to increase primary care patient acquisition, highlight how a new CMS or redesign will help to drive new business into your doctors’ offices, or how a new CMS will allow you to better integrate a third-party scheduling platform. If reducing ED usage and getting patients with non-life threatening issues to the right care setting is an organizational objective, show how a redesign will allow you to better leverage content marketing efforts, launch or better position UC or ED wait times, or more effectively support marketing campaigns.

You may even want to consider not labeling or referring to your project as a “marketing” or “digital marketing” initiative, but as an organizational initiative that will bring everyone closer to achieving system-wide goals.

Tip #3: “Show me the money” … and the data

Your project is no doubt competing with countless others for funding and support. And many of those other projects are just as needed and beneficial as yours. Put yourself in the best position by leveraging data to your advantage.

Collecting and sharing the following data can help you more effectively make your case:

  • Industry/Peer Data – There are several sources of benchmarking data for healthcare marketing and digital marketing teams and budgets. Things such as department size, average time-to-redesign, total budget, budget spend breakdown, vendor outsourcing, CMS usage, and much more is available through SHSMD’s By the Numbers as well as our 2020 Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends Survey results.
  • ROI/ROMI – If you’re already tracking and are able to show digital ROI or ROMI, be sure to share that data and explain how you expect your project to help improve upon the results or further track or quantify them. If you’re not currently measuring ROI/ROMI, will your project position you to do so?
  • Cost of Doing Nothing – This is often an overlooked point, but there can be a very high cost – not just in actual dollars, but in brand awareness or long-term competitiveness – to your organization of either doing nothing or waiting. This could be in the form of not improving your physician directory and therefore not maximizing the opportunity for revenue from new patient appointments, or not redesigning your site for accessibility or responsiveness that may lead patients to choose your competition over you. If you can quantify the cost of doing nothing in any way or show if and how you’re behind the market or your competition, do so. Sometimes highlighting the cost of doing nothing speaks louder than the actual project cost alone and can help push it toward approval.

To help you get started, here are a few key statistics from our 2020 Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends Survey:

  • In years past we’ve seen redesign cycle times range around three to five years. Respondents in 2020 indicate that 20% of organizations recently completed a redesign, suggesting that health systems are redesigning closer to every five years.
  • The average overall digital marketing budget across all respondents is $700,000 with leaders reporting a budget of over $1,200,000 — which is more than twice the average and nearly three times what laggards spend.
  • Overall, the majority of organizations dedicate 25-30% of their overall marketing budget to digital.
  • Email and marketing automation and video production have the highest planned net increase in staffing.

Be prepared

By anticipating questions and objections, tying your project to organizational goals, and sharing applicable data you can help increase your chances of gaining internal approval for your next big digital initiative. You’ll do a lot of hard work up-front, but the pay-off in the end will be well worth it.

At Geonetric, we’re all about helping our healthcare clients develop and execute on their digital strategies. We also help our clients sell the value of them to internal stakeholders. If you’re looking for a new CMS, pursuing a website redesign project, or need exceptional digital marketing support contact us today!

Bryan Fentress

Digital Solutions Director

How to Sell Your Digital Projects to Your Healthcare C-suite