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Stephanie Morgan How to sell digital solutions to sceptical stakeholders

I’m keen to see whether the next Towards Maturity benchmark shows an increase in learning technology budgets.

How To Sell Digital Solutions To Sceptical Stakeholders Pub 26 9 17

For two years, we’ve seen “little or no difference in the proportion of budget spend”, with the average amount of L&D budget going towards new technology staying steady at 19%.

However, Laura Overton has suggested a rise will be reflected in January’s report, due to ”emerging technology […] on the rise”; and based on early analysis, Towards Maturity also note that “39% are planning to increase the size of their L&D team in the next two years” – meaning that “the budget situation may need to change.”

Despite this growing optimism, I think many learning professionals I talk to would still say they experience challenges in getting buy-in for digital learning technologies. Even if your team does get the increase in budget you’ve been looking for, you might still be faced with the challenge of making a case for spending a portion of it on new digital learning technology.

However, I see this as an opportunity for us to use our influencing and persuasion skills to get provision for the learning solutions we want and need.

We know digital can be a direct route to getting fantastic outcomes, from overcoming short attention spans to managing digital natives, incorporating social learning, and setting out your vision for technology in your organisation’s culture. What’s more, learners want to be excited by learning—shown by the appetite for gamification.

But if you’re still finding it difficult to get your stakeholders on board, I’ve put together a few tips to help you handle any doubts, and get the go-ahead for new and exciting learning technology.


Express yourself

It’s really important to know your audience. Use your stakeholder mapping skills to understand their pressures and drivers, and tailor your proposal; speaking their language will also help you pitch your business case at the right level.

When it comes to demonstrating value, if you can, show, don’t tell – offering to set up a demo of your new technology can be a crucial selling point for stakeholders who are very hands-on or visual.

And if a stakeholder isn’t especially technically-savvy, using examples that will be familiar to them can help you get buy-in. If you can use everyday examples—new technologies are making their way into homes as entertainment, through apps, mobile learning and even VR gaming—you can use these to show the impact technology can have on engagement.


Measure impact

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be excited by the fact that many digital technologies provide us with an opportunity to collect ROI data like never before.

It’s essential to use ROI to build your business case – if we know how the technology is going to get the results we want, so one way to get stakeholders onside is by showing them a return they can see, as well as reporting on it.

Your LMS was likely the first step in this direction, and most of us are using them to measure learner engagement already. By gathering data from new technologies, you can take an even deeper dive into the numbers, and make decisions that are firmly evidence-based.


Choose your battles

If your budget is tight, it might be helpful to look at the bigger picture. You want it, but do you need it? Can something else do the job just as well? If there’s only going to be room for one digital solution in your budget, use it in the right area.

For example, thinking longer-term about learning that is going to have a high level of ROI will show your stakeholders that digital solutions get results. This will stand you in good stead the next time it comes to having this conversation around budgets and spending on new technologies.

As Towards Maturity mentioned, there are free solutions out there. If it’s a case of compromising on one thing, perhaps it’s a better idea to curate another component to make up part of the blend, and use the remaining budget for a digital solution in an area where it’s going to have the biggest impact.


Hopefully, being able to demonstrate the value in new and innovative digital learning can help you get your stakeholders onside, and get the go-ahead to use the methods you need to delight and engage your learners.

By relating with stakeholders, demonstrating clear value and returns, and carefully choosing which projects to seek investment for, you can take advantage of the change coming down the line in L&D spending – and getting signoff for digital projects in future might not be the struggle it once was.


If you want more advice and tips, we have tools that can help.

Want to know more about winning over key influencers in your business? Check out our learning strategy webinar ‘Influencing with impact: Win over your stakeholders’, and gain support for your L&D strategy, whether it comes to securing budget, strategy sign-off, or general support and participation.




Stephanie Morgan


Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning

Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.


Copyright © 2017 Bray Leino Learning

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