You know the advantages that dynamic site selection technology can deliver to your company. Selling your boss on the solution, however, is another matter …
Ultimately, you must prove to your superiors that your preferred site selection technology will help you achieve better results. You must show how the solution will make your processes more effective and your people more efficient. Thinking and selling in terms of saving time, increasing ROI, and working smarter will help you make your case.
Start by answering this question for yourself: “What will this new technology do to benefit the company?”
There are a number of possible answers, and more than one could apply. Here are some compelling reasons that I have heard used successfully:
- It will let us perform valuable analyses that we currently cannot.
- It will make our analyses more accurate.
- It will make us more efficient.
- It will make us faster.
- It will free us up to do more important (and more interesting) analyses.
If you are not asking for more money, reasons like these alone will often secure your preferred site selection technology for you, unless you work for a micro-manager who used to be in research. But you may have to keep selling if the solution you want is more expensive. When more money is involved, your task inevitably becomes more complicated.
The best way to get most bosses to spend money is to show what’s in it for them. Identify your boss’s pain points—the things that make his or her life miserable. Then demonstrate how the new technology will help to relieve those pains. Your pitch will be much easier when you do.
Addressing the pain points of your boss’s boss can also be a powerful persuader. The best argument to use will depend on who you—or your boss—reports to. Let’s look at some different departments and the arguments you could use if you report up through them:
Because this department is all about dollars and cents, showing how new technology will save money gives you a good shot at receiving approval. These arguments are usually cast in terms of:
- Return on investment: This can be thought of as the interest rate return on the investment in the technology. If, for example, the technology costs $50,000 per year but will save $200,000 per year, the ROI is 300 percent.
- Payback period: This is how long it takes to save the money spent on the technology. In the above example, the payback period is three months—that is, it takes three months to save $50,000.
You can quantify savings in the following ways:
- Doing more with less: Showing that the technology will make that next hire unnecessary is a great argument as to why the company should invest. Strategies for achieving this include:
- Getting work done faster—essentially, you are getting more hours in the workday.
- Moving research from a “service bureau” model to a “self-service” model. Instead of cranking out maps and reports for people, give them the ability to get them on their own. This frees up research for more challenging and useful analyses. You also don’t have to hire a skilled analyst whenever demand for maps and demographics increases.
- Reduce costs for other departments: If your new technology can reduce costs for marketing (say, by better focusing ad spends) or help you to size out demand for merchandise in new stores before the store design process starts, you have another compelling argument for your boss. The savings can be astonishing.
Real estate is concerned with making deals. Convince the powers-that-be that the new technology will help you complete more good deals. Consider some of these reasons:
- Faster decisions: Picking good sites faster means that you compete less for sites with other retailers. This means you can often negotiate lower rents because no one else is at the table yet. You will also lose fewer selected sites to other retailers, forcing you to settle for second best. Explain how your preferred technology will help you do this by:
- Eliminating inferior sites early in the site selection process
- Eliminating data silos so that people have access to what they need more seamlessly
- Pushing more information and decision making to the real estate reps
- Better decisions: If you don’t know how to identify which sites are good for your company and you want to buy technology that will do it for you, you are asking for trouble. Technology can be used to inform and to corroborate better decisions, but it should not be used to think for you. Emphasize benefits of technology such as:
- Seeing things we can’t currently see—for example, where our actual customers live and work
- More intelligence or more accurate intelligence about our competitors
- Better business intelligence about our own stores or centers
If you work for a shopping center owner/developer, you likely report up through marketing. The goal here is usually to help leasing be more effective, which can be achieved in a few ways:
- Nicer maps: Leasing likes to show attractive maps when pitching potential tenants. Technology that produces better maps may appeal to your boss, even if it’s not the reason you want the technology.
- More accurate data: Shopping center marketing people are very concerned with attractive maps. But the beauty will fade quickly if the data shown is wrong. If a competing store is missing or in the wrong location, the company will be embarrassed no matter how pretty the map is.
- Better tenants: If your preferred site selection technology helps you determine which tenants will do well in a given center/vacancy, you can then argue that it will reduce risk on tenant improvement costs and increase shopping center valuations by allowing you to focus on leasing to tenants that bring in hordes of shoppers, thereby driving up rents on vacancies.
- Show how you can identify retailers that would draw strong traffic from the trade area. This can involve having accurate, up-to-date information on who is and isn’t in the market, and having insight into consumer preferences for retail chains at the block-group level.
- Use technology to win the best retailers. Although they usually won’t trust your analytics (they have their own), they will respond to market intelligence about how other stores are performing. Technology can also help you sell them on the condition and management of your centers versus the competition.
The reality is that if YOU want something, you need to convince the person who signs the checks why THEY want it too. The good news is that improving effectiveness and efficiency with better technology and better market and business intelligence should be an easy sell because it really does make things better.