B2B Lead Generation | 20-20 Hindsight on Marketing Automation
Hindsight is 20/20 and buyers of marketing automation software are probably thinking “If I had only known what I know now. Implementing Marketing Automation is hard work.”
Thankfully, our friends at Marketing Automation Software Guide did a survey to ask exactly that question: “What do you wish you asked your marketing automation vendor before buying?”
At the B2B lead generation company Find New Customers, we believe it takes a lot more than software to have success with B2B demand generation. It also takes People and Process. For instance, Lead Nurturing and Scoring relies on Problem to Solution story-telling and great content, as well as well-thought out buying processes.
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But we will summarize what they concluded. (Please note that no vendor or customer names are used, as we do not see this as the fault of any single person or company.) Also, please note that Find New Customers shares our thoughts using “FNC comment.”
Questions revolved around four areas:
1. Clarifying Communication around Integration
(FNC comment: Marketing automation needed to “play well” with others. Assuming everything will work as the vendor promises is a common mistake.)
“Just knowing that a marketing automation system integrates with CRM isn’t enough. You have to understand specifically how the systems work together, especially with leads, campaigns, and opportunities.”
2. Getting the Service & Support You Need
(FNC comment: Implement marketing automation is hard work. Licensing software is easy. Take what the vendor suggests and multiply by 3-4 times.)
“You have to look under the covers and ask those hard questions about training. What’s really involved and how much will it cost? What’s the average time it takes for one of their customers to get up to speed? And then check it on your own because they’re going to tell you what you want to hear.”
“When you’re ready to send out a campaign and there’s a glitch, you really need someone to call you back in a timely manner. I don’t expect it to be 5 minutes, but I don’t expect it to be 2 days. So that’s another really valuable question that I didn’t ask: What’s your turnaround? They said in the beginning, for the implementation, that I would have an assigned account rep to help me bring up the system and do the integration, but once we turned it on, that person went away. So, I definitely would have had something put into the contract regarding customer service, or at least drilled down to question that component of it.”
3. Match the Product Roadmap to Your Goals
(FNC quote: Make sure the product you are shown is the product you are buying.)
“I went to [a conference] two years ago and was excited by the new interface/platform. To date, it still hasn’t been rolled out.”
“Understand the reality of what version of the solution is being sold versus what is available. We were surprised how much of the presentations we saw were coming soon or in beta and not functionality in production use today.”
4. Maintaining Your System
“[Systems] have maintenance windows, even though the vendors will say that they’re SaaS or cloud. When this certain marketing automation tool that I implemented had maintenance windows, all of my landing pages that were hosted by that tool went down. If I would have known to ask about downtime beforehand, I wouldn’t have picked that tool because being a demand gen expert, that’s where my core focus is. I can’t afford to have my landing pages go down.”
Before you start your selection of marketing automation, step back and ask yourself some questions:
- Is the system compatible with our existing CRM system?
- Is our data quality good enough to support the system?
- Is everyone on the same page – Sales has bought-in and so has Marketing?
- What insights can you get from social networks and thought leaders?
- Marketing automation requires LOTs of great content. Are we ready?
What has been your experience? Were there questions you wished you had asked? We love comments and those who share our content.