#40: Building Stakeholder Buy-In
Steal my technique to success-proof your launch from day one
Most product launches are set up to fail.
Why? Key stakeholders aren't aligned on the definition of success.
We’ve all been there. It’s the day after launch, and by all accounts, you’re smashing the goals. In fact, you might even surpass the targets! You feel on top of the world.
Then, a week later, you get a Slack message from an exec that sends you crashing down. They’re wondering what your plan is to “save the launch”.
Save the launch? You thought it went amazing! Turns out, the KPIs the launch team was working towards wasn’t what the exec had in mind. Unfortunately, this scenario happens more often than you might think.
In today’s edition, I’ll share one powerful technique I use to define success and align cross-functional stakeholders from the start.
Let’s get into it.
SPONSORED BY IGNITION
The Nuance of Success
One of the joys of being a product marketer is that you get to collaborate with so many different stakeholders. But, at times, this can also feel like a struggle. Especially when it comes to launch planning. Setting up your launch for success requires strategic stakeholder management from day one.
It’s important to understand that not everyone will view success the same way. Sure, the core launch team may all agree on the KPIs, but that doesn’t mean everyone else (read: leadership and exec) is on board.
The sooner you can identify how diverse these perspectives are, the sooner you can get to work managing expectations and building alignment. The key here is to be proactive ahead of launch, and not reactive after launch.
The fastest way to accomplish this? Run a short stakeholder survey. Here’s my process:
Identify two groups of stakeholders: 1) the main stakeholders impacted by the launch (product, CS, marketing etc); plus 2) the key leaders in the company who care about this launch (CPO, CMO, CEO, etc).
Send each group a short survey to identify their expectations for launch (sample questions below).
Compile all expectations into one spreadsheet and identify trends and outliers.
Use the trends to guide your KPI goal setting. This should provide insight into how most of the business views success for the launch.
Meet 1:1 with each of the stakeholders who had outlier perspectives. Get an understanding of why their expectations are misaligned with the rest of the org and help them understand the KPIs you have set (and why). This is a critical step as it ensures there are no last minute surprises post launch.
Simple enough, right? This is one of those times where we really don’t need to overthink things.
Ready to build your own stakeholder survey? Here are a few questions you can save for your swipe file:
What is the biggest challenge you/your team is experiencing with the absence of this feature/product?
What roadblocks and obstacles will be removed for you/your team once this feature is live?
What opportunities will be created for you/your team once this feature is live?
What’s the #1 metric you view as an indicator of success for this launch?
I suggested this approach to a coaching client a few weeks back, and she tried it for her upcoming tier 1 launch. She hit one small snag, though: not everyone completed the survey.
My advice? Privately DM each stakeholder ahead of time (especially the execs) to let them know what the survey is, why it’s important, and how their feedback will shape the upcoming launch. Then share the link and a clear CTA to complete the survey within 24 hours.
Give it a go and let me know the results!
📚 Reading Material: Measure What Matters by John Doerr digs into how the most successful businesses use OKRs to drive alignment and growth
🛠 Tools: This free icebreaker tool helps you melt even the coolest of stakeholders
🍩 Snacks: There’s nothing a birthday cake Timbit can’t do, is there? (yes, my Canadian is showing 🇨🇦)
Off to bribe my neighbours with donuts make friends in my building!