Even when you’re fully on board with human insight and bought into the idea that getting customer feedback and maturing your customer experience is critical, your next step might be securing a budget.
While getting a budget for new or growing initiatives may seem tough when budgets are tight, the payoff is well worth your effort. In this article, I’ll walk you through basic tips and best practices to set you up to make a strong case for getting a budget.
How do individual contributors secure a human insight budget?
When we say individual contributor, we mean professionals who don’t own a budget. One fallacy that often trips up individual contributors is hearing “no budget” and thinking this means “no money.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Organizational budgets aren’t set in stone
A budget is a plan for the money your department has to spend. They’re a matter of prioritization based on an organization’s strategic priorities—financial plans tied to operational metrics. Typically, budget priorities are set from the top down, meaning the C-suite tells departments what they should accomplish with the money they’re given.
If you go to your manager with a new idea and their response is, “I don’t have the budget,” don’t take it as a hard no. They could be dealing with 5-6 suggestions at once. Perhaps, you didn’t present it properly or at the right time. Budgets are not set in stone. Timelines can be pushed. Budgets can go over or under. They evolve as priorities change, so make a compelling case to reprioritize.
Hitch your proposal onto organizational outcomes
When thinking about investing in a human insight solution, start by outlining your immediate short-term need and the long-term needs you’re building up to accomplish.
When positioning your need to secure a budget, outline all the immediate issues or needs you’ll address with the purchase. Remember that business-to-business contracts often require you to sign multi-year deals, so make sure those immediate needs build up to accomplishing an impactful long-term need.
An example of long-term goals might be to invest in the maturity of your customer experience practice or deliver on a goal to become more customer-centric.
To trigger a budget reprioritization, carefully consider the impact on the organization. If you propose something that costs $1,000 but saves $5,000, and you can credibly articulate that, you’ll likely get your manager’s attention. Then, attach that ROI to something your organization has deemed a priority for the year or the quarter, and you’ve got a solid chance at securing a budget.
Here are common organizational outcomes that a human insight solution can support:
- Increase capacity for customer feedback: Help cut down on manual tasks, repetitive admin work, and agency costs.
- Mitigate risk: Improve developer efficiency. Decrease rework that occurs in product and engineering teams to get more out of each sprint.
- Reduce customer service costs: Improve the usability of products and services. Enable customers to self-serve to decrease inquiries, complaints, requests, and churn.
When speaking to leadership, speak in terms they understand—a proven return on investment (ROI) over a specific amount of time that aligns with their big priorities. This will get their attention and open the door for a conversation.
How do managers and leaders secure a human insight budget?
As a manager, you have more latitude about what you spend your budget on. However, let’s say you’re not planning your budget right now, and you still want to prepare a strong case for your decision.
It’s hard to serve up an effective proposal for a new solution if you don’t expertly understand the problem or need you’re trying to solve.
If you don’t want to make a purely financial argument for a solution, show how the investment would align with the broader organizational strategy. This could include DEI initiatives like improving employee experience or a desire to get more customer-centric across the entire organization.
Here are some ways to spotlight the need for a human insight solution and make the case for securing the budget:
Start by collecting data
When you have a problem that needs to be solved, start identifying, locating, and collecting organizational data to make a case for bringing in a new solution. Make sure you understand your audience and what’s important to them. If you’re proposing a human insight solution to finance, make sure you can answer questions like:
- What kind of investment is this?
- How long are we investing?
- When do we break even or start to see a return?
Tip: Most organizations have resources for helping you conduct this kind of discovery or business case analysis. If you need help making the case to internal stakeholders, talk with your rep about available resources.
Make a case for impacting another department in your organization
This could justify requesting more funds or splitting the cost of the investment. Be sure to outline what the other department will get from the partnership. Teams that will benefit from a human insight solution include:
Why you should start laying the foundation now
Thanks to budget freeze, cuts, delayed hiring, and reduced investor funding, organizations are being asked to do more with less. This can force people to make decisions on gut instinct instead of connecting with customers and audiences—which introduces massive risk to an organization.
Thanks to human insight solutions, bringing direct customer perspectives into more decisions across teams and experiences is easier and more accessible than ever before.
However, a mindset shift will likely need to happen in your organization. Start working on your pitch now to get a budget for a human insight solution.