Creating a Technology Budget Business Case

November 17, 2022

By Chris Stabile, Practice Director, Rev Ops


Meeting Rev Ops leaders is the best! I had the pleasure of speaking at Ops Stars with Asia Corbett, Ben Fuller and Brad Smith, some Rev Ops folks that I genuinely respect, appreciate and enjoy their company. I wanted to share our takeaways for anyone getting ready for budget season so hopefully it can be a bit less painful!

We dug into 4 topics:

How do you define Rev Ops ROI?

Budget planning is a tough gig, as all us Rev Ops folks know. We're not usually quota-carrying teams, so it can be hard for leadership to wrap their head around the ROI when it comes to tools or headcount. Sometimes the preparation BEFORE your preparation is just as important. So here are a few great steps you can take before even starting gathering info for budgets.

  • Categorize projects your team is working on, and tie them to company goals
  • It is much easier to represent value to a leader in your organization when they can see the work you are doing is tied to OKRs.
  • Ask “Are we getting value out of the tools we're already paying for, is it worth it?”
  • Make sure the tool is really going to help your team! Have historical examples of the ROI of other tools that have been leveraged. This is something you can work WITH your vendors to get. Do not hesitate to get on a call with them and say “If I can’t present the ROI of this tool, my boss isn’t going to re-sign!”
  • Benchmark on KPIs. Make sure you are keeping track of how things were going before and after a tool. OR see if you can pull that data out of your system.
  • Get buy-in from the people who will be using the tools
  • The more people who are aligned with the need to better
  • Identify something valuable to frame to your leaders: The sentiment towards quota carrying reps at 99% of target vs. a Rev Ops person at 99% is very different.
  • We need the correct resources and people to implement tools well. How much time will be spent on this new tool or project, and do your best to quantify that as well.

How to Build a Technology Budget Business Case

You've got the idea, you know where it's going to fit in your organization and what it's going to look like, but now it's time to ask for budget. What research did you do on your vendors? Do you have some analysis of how many people you actually need on your team to be effective? Coming to the table prepared is the most important part. You can expect your leadership team will ask hard questions, and will want very clear reasons for why you need a tool/headcount/etc. The more prep you do, the easier the conversation can go.

  • How can we be more efficient
  • Look for inefficiencies in the current budget and your OWN process. Don’t be afraid to drop things off the budget that are no longer valuable, and that will go a long way in earning execs trust.
  • Get real tangible numbers to tie to your qualitative measures
  • It's easy to say “the sales team is more effective using XYZ tool”. But it’ll be met with “how much more effective?”.
  • Whenever you can, pull actual data from your systems and call out where and how much time is being wasted. This get’s people thinking.
  • Use the project management tools you have at your fingertips, track all of the work you can and cannot do.
  • Once you have tied projects to OKRs, being able to call out which OKRs you can help with and which ones you can’t (without budget) can be a show stopper.
  • Buffer: It's something we're not supposed to talk about. But do you really want to petition Congress for a $5k additional SFDC add-on in the middle of the year?

How to Present a Tech Budget Proposal

Presentation is everything when speaking to your leadership team. Don’t assume they know anything about the problems you are having. And make sure they can get to your “point” as quickly and easily as possible. They are busy (as are you), and no one wants to waste time on an ill prepared, verbose presentation about budgets.

  • Don’t put long winded analysis on a deck.
  • Pictures and graphs go a long way
  • Keep it simple, clear and concise
  • Find out what their biggest goals are, and tie how your budget will affect this.
  • It's not just about being tied to OKRs, it's about framing your pitch to the people you are speaking with.
  • Consider which stakeholders will need to be involved in this project. Who are they? What is their role? Are there any ways that they can be brought on board early on? How can we make sure they're excited about this project and feel like they have a say in its success?
  • Do a cost benefit analysis breakdown - this will help get ahead of one of the objections below.
  • Depending on how your teams are structured, it's important to break out systems, processes, analytics, and training work, and how each of these workstreams add value to the business.
  • Don’t forget, everyone is busy.
  • Have an impact statement and what we're solving in your deck, execs don’t care until someone brings it to their attention.

Common Leadership Objections and Responses

Even with all of the preparation in the world, your leadership is going to push back. But a part of being prepared is having a good idea what those questions will be, and answers ready for some of those most common ones.

  • Getting their attention and focus is probably the hardest thing
  • Tying specific details of your budget to their biggest priorities will help.
  • Keeping it simple and clear will keep them engaged.
  • Why do we need this?
  • Never ask for budget for something without a plan around how to answer this question. Whether its ROI from a vendor, or analysis of how your team can only get to a certain number of projects because of limited capacity.
  • It's too expensive
  • It's Important to drive home the opportunity costs of not doing what's best. Run real calculations. Even if the number is based on estimates, it's always better to point to a dollar figure for why we need to spend this money.
  • Push past the AEs to get to the SEs when working with vendors. They will help you sell the story on their product, and not just be thinking about their pocket.
  • Something to always remember too: Enablement is very important, you can’t just buy a tool and have it magically fix problems.  
  • A lot of times a company will have the budget for a tool but not the right people to make sure it is utilized effectively. Always include the cost of implementation, rollout and training into your budget.

Proactive Preparation Pays Off

Whether you're a manager or an SVP, one of the biggest challenges you'll face each year is getting funding for your Rev Ops initiatives and team. The best way to secure that funding is to start preparing way in advance. Go back to the research, and pull facts and figures. Make your presentation bulletproof by developing a clear understanding of what you're buying (or hiring), how you measure success, and how leadership can benefit from your initiatives. Be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to metrics, and find ways to improve team performance even before the organization has time to object. Then present those ideas clearly and make sure they resonate with the people that hold the purse strings.

If you would like to watch the whole panel you can find it here!