search search

How to Get Inbound Marketing Buy-In From Linear Thinking C-Suite

By Jessy SmulskiFeb 6 /2018

inbound-marketing-c-suiteUnless you sell a product that doesn’t require research (nobody scours the internet over floss) inbound marketing isn’t negotiable. But many marketing leaders are still wrestling C-Suite for buy-in. What the heck is the holdup!? Here’s a theory, and it has nothing to do with budgets, past experiences, or any other objection you might have heard.

Marketers are creative observationalists. We study how people interact with information and the world around them, and we find imaginative ways to adapt and align our strategies with the subtle nuances in their behavior.

Executives are often linear thinkers. To solve problems or make decisions, they organize data in a logical order and move through it systematically from start to finish.

Unfortunately, the buyer’s journey is anything but linear. People don’t see an ad, talk to a sales rep, then make a purchase. The path from awareness to purchase looks more like an abstract painting than a straight line, complete with loop-backs, crisscrossing, and unpredictable jaunts. This might explain why some executives struggle to understand the need for inbound marketing.

To help the C-Suite adapt their thinking, tap into your inbound marketing bravado and educate them on the changes in buyer behavior. Since they prefer to look at problems in logical order, present your inbound marketing case linearly — problem, solution, results.

The Problem

Fifteen years ago, the average consumer used about two touchpoints to reach a purchasing decision. Today, they use an average of six touchpoints and spend 80 percent of the sales cycle online doing research independent of a sales rep. They also switch between multiple devices and expect a seamless and consistent experience regardless of what channel they’re on or what device they’re using.

What marketing problems are you experiencing as a result of this varying buyer’s journey? The most common pain points include poor lead generation, poor lead quality and long sales cycles. Keep in mind, the C-Suite is full of calculated decision-makers. Rambling off a list of problems isn’t going to cut it. They need exacts, so pull the numbers.

  • How many leads do you currently pull in?
  • How many of those leads close?
  • How long does it take to close?
  • How many leads do you need to attract to meet revenue goals?
  • Average Order Value = Total Sales / Order Count
  • Purchase Frequency = Total Orders / Total Customers
  • Customer Value = Average Order Value x Purchase Frequency
  • Customer Lifetime Value = Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan

The Solution

Instead of chasing prospects through the twisted maze of today’s buyer’s journey, inbound marketing brings the prospect to you. How? By providing the educational resources they need to complete their independent research and make a purchasing decision. Because the prospect chooses to engage with your brand, this strategy produces a higher number of sales qualified leads, which has the potential to reduce the cost of acquiring leads and increase the overall value each customer represents for the company.

For a more in-depth look at getting buy-in for inbound marketing, check out the free eBook, Inbound Marketing: Buy-In, Budgets and Best Practices.

The Results

Leadership doesn’t care nearly as much about the how as they do the how much. How much will it cost and how much will it benefit the organization? To illustrate your point, calculate the current Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) for leads generated through traditional marketing tactics.

Calculating CAC & CLVS

Begin by selecting a realistic timeframe (1-5 years) from which to draw your data for both metrics.

Customer Acquisition Cost: the cost (including all operational and capital expenses) required to gain a new customer.


All Marketing Dollars / The Number Of New Customers

The Customer Lifetime Value: an estimation of the total value a company will derive from their entire relationship with a customer. This one involves more effort but churns up great data points to share with C-Suite.


  • Average Order Value = Total Sales / Order Count
  • Purchase Frequency = Total Orders / Total Customers
  • Customer Value = Average Order Value x Purchase Frequency
  • Customer Lifetime Value = Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan

At this point, you will have some compelling evidence suggesting that traditional marketing might not be delivering the ROI C-Suite expects. Using the CLV as a benchmark, strategize to increase this value over time. The beauty of inbound marketing is that it strengthens the relationship between customers and brands, and nurtures repeat business.

As for CAC, instead of asking for a set budget (which never works) set a specific goal over the next 12 to 18 months for how much you would like to cut the cost of acquiring a customer. In other words, present an actionable, measurable plan.

For more expert advice on how to sell your executive team on inbound using proof of ROI, check out this free guide: Inbound Marketing: Buy-In, Budgets and Best Practices.


Jessy Smulski
The Author

Jessy Smulski

Jessy is a professional creative writer with over 8 years of experience working with businesses, marketing agencies, news papers, and magazines. Intrinsically empathetic, her talent is transforming the experiences of others into meaningful recounts that connect brands with customers, readers with stories and words with purpose. She also specializes in brand development and content marketing. When she’s not creating content, you can find her snowboarding out west, backpacking or capturing life through the lens of her camera. She takes her coffee black, her wine red and her books non-digital. Catch Jess on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter @Jsmuls.