Depending on the customer requirements, a cornucopia of various vendors can enter the fray. I have witnessed evaluations where enterprise organizations initially review a strange group of email vendors like Constant Contact all the way up to enterprise Marketing Automation vendors like Manticore, Eloqua, and Marketo. (To me that is like shopping for vehicles including everything between a SMART Car and a Freightliner truck and it shows the swirl and confusion in the Marketing Automation market.)
Beyond the matrix of whistles and bells and the latest functionality, prospective customers MUST also look into the business viability of Marketing Automation vendors and the support they will receive to help ensure ramp up and long term success. Marketing execs don’t want to be left holding the bag with a vendor who lot funding and has no road map for updates. Avoid the career limiting move!
Ask Tough and Fair Questions
I believe in asking hard questions. Many times vendors in any space won’t or can’t answer some of the questions due to confidentiality. But, the way a vendor answers the questions can be very revealing. Do not be reluctant to ask hard questions!
Here are the business viability questions you should ask when evaluating marketing automation platform players.
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have any customers? (especially important with all of the new vendors)
- What can you share about your product/solution roadmap?
- What companies do you actively partner with? (CRM, O/S, B.I. etc.)
- How extensive is your solution provider network?
- What customer training is provided?
- Do you have a Customer Success Manager program?
- Have you laid off staff recently? If so, why?
- What is your service level agreement for technical support? (Tier 1, 2, 3 troubleshooting procedures)
- Do you have references we can talk to?
My point with these 10 questions is to look past the solution and understand the business viability of the vendor you are considering. Ultimately the winning vendor will be a business partner for your organization. Of course there are many other related questions to ask. Just remember a well planned Marketing Automation implementation is strategic to an organization because of the potential impact in helping generate revenue. Asking hard business questions is justified! As a marketing executive the last thing you want is a vendor who can’t support you or because they are out of business in 6 months.
Let me know the business viability and support questions you ask the vendors you evaluate.