How to Convince a Reluctant Decision Maker to Change ESPs

If you know your company needs a change with your ESP, it's essential that you make that case to the decision maker who could stand in the way

It’s a situation many enterprise marketers have encountered in recent years — you have an email service provider (ESP) that isn’t working for your organization’s needs. But the decision maker at your company standing in the way of change is tough to convince. To be fair, changing ESPs is not only hard, but it can be expensive and time-consuming. Campaigns have to migrate over. You have to account for data. Your team has to learn how to use a new tool. It can seem daunting, and the decision maker — whether it’s your CMO, CEO, VP of Marketing, Director of Marketing Operations, or whoever will make the final call — will understandably have a high bar to clear for making such a significant shift for your organization, one that will involve not just Marketing, but Marketing Operations and I.T. as well.

But if you’re in the email marketing trenches every day and know it’s a necessary change, it’s up to you. You need to put that case together in a way that will sell the decision maker on that need. How can you do it? Here are four tips to keep in mind as you build toward the big pitch.

  • Keep them informed along the way

It can be hard to admit when you’re struggling. It’s easier to talk about the positives and show the metrics that make your email campaigns look like they’re making the impact you want. But don’t tell the decision maker everything’s great for months, then spring Doomsday prophecies on them when you want to make a change.

You need to inform them all the way through that there’s a problem or a gap relative to your vision. Alert them when something doesn’t work like you need it to. Let them know when there are issues with your ESP that are limiting your ability to do your job at the level you’d like to. Then, when you come to them with a pitch to make a change, they’ll already be expecting it. They might even encourage you to put a pitch together before you have to sell them on it.

  • Know your competitors

Is a competitor kicking your butt in the email marketing game? Is their personalization and behavior triggering scaling up at a much faster, more agile rate than yours? Do you feel like your ESP is keeping you from keeping up with them?

If your competitors are doing something you can’t because of your ESP’s shortcomings, you need to know that. If you can, find out what ESP they’re using, and figure out what they have that yours doesn’t. Every ESP has its own strengths, and some will be better suited than others for your organization’s strategy and needs. If you can show the decision maker where you’re falling behind and why, that can be one of the most effective ways to convince them of the need to change.

  • Do your research

The ESP market is crowded, and it can be tough to differentiate from one to another. But go beyond just price, and find out what strengths and weaknesses each possibility has. If one has a differentiator you know you need, identify it and put together the business case for why it’s necessary.

If you come to the decision maker with in-depth research on the options, it’ll lay the groundwork well. It will show you’re thinking about this decision from a business perspective and not just your own convenience. It’ll also tell them you’re passionate about finding a new solution, and you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen. Because you’re so close to email marketing on a daily basis, a good manager will gladly listen to your opinion.

  • Recruit allies

Don’t go it alone. Before you try to convince the final decision maker, hone your persuasion skills by convincing others on your team. Make the sale there first. Then see who else you can get to help sell it to the decision maker. That way, you can go in there with allies who will help you make the case.

If she sees most of the team is on board, you’ll likely get more openness from her to listen to what you’re saying. Showing that everyone who touches email marketing regularly is on the same page will give a big boost, and show that this is a big change you’re all willing to make.

In the end, the biggest key is making sure the person you need on your side is informed. You need to build up the goodwill you need to walk into that room and convince them the change is necessary. After all, you’re likely going to be the one held accountable for your team’s email marketing success; make sure you’re giving it the best chance to succeed. If your ESP is holding you back from optimizing your email marketing program, don’t be afraid to find a new partner who will let you turn loose your potential.