As I write this, I’ve already taken a call with one vendor this morning and will take another later this afternoon. For those of us in marketing, this is a common occurrence. We are inundated by vendors offering to help make our campaigns faster, brighter, better. To be sure, there are a lot of excellent vendors out there who offer much-needed support in helping us achieve our marketing goals. Increasingly, and especially over the past ten years as marketing technology (MarTech) has become a pivotal part of any best-in-class marketing strategy. However, I find myself wishing that my interactions with vendors were less predictable and more delightful. Pointed below are a few ways vendors can have more productive, enjoyable, and ultimately profitable, interactions with their marketer partners.
1. Be mindful of your M&A. Clearly, there is a tremendous opportunity in MarTech for companies to gain a competitive advantage through merging or buying other companies in the space. I count six notable acquisitions since the beginning of September, nearly one each week, as of October 20, 2017. Those of us on the buyer side generally welcome these acquisitions as a sign of a healthy, growing industry and optimistically believe these will make the products and services we buy better. That said, I have, on several occasions, sat with large vendors who tout their end-to-end capabilities based on previous mergers and acquisitions (M&A), only to discover that all the pieces do not really connect. If you haven’t integrated new technology or capabilities into your platform, please stop positioning yourselves as though you have.
Increasingly, and especially over the past ten years as marketing technology has become a pivotal part of any best-in-class marketing strategy
2. Be transparent. We respect (and know) that you don’t do it all. In fact, I’m typically skeptical of a vendor that pitches me as a one-stop-shop in the MarTech stack given the depth, breadth, and complexity of the stack and a best-in-class marketing organization’s needs. Tell us what you excel at, what you’re working on, and what specific value you provide. Let us speak with current clients so we can learn from their first-hand experience. And, when we ask for pricing options, please give them to us. Most marketers are prepared to pay (or negotiate), but withholding pricing also means we have a more difficult time budgeting and planning.
3. Know your audience. Rather than showcasing every bell and whistle of your product, tailor your pitch. The needs of a multinational enterprise will invariably be different from those of a regional mid-size business. And the needs of a CPG brand will vary from those of a manufacturing brand. The pitch I want to hear is tailored to my company’s needs. All too often, I have calls with vendors, share my needs, and then am still pitched a genericized solution.
4. Share your roadmap. We understand you can’t share everything, but tell us – at least annually – where you’re headed, what your corporate vision is, where you think the industry is headed. Not only does this inspire confidence that you have your pulse on the future, it also helps us better evaluate if you remain the right vendor for what we need going forward.
5. Customer experience matters (a lot). Candidly, many MarTech vendors have essentially the same capabilities as their nearest competitors. So, when presented with multiple good options, I will default to the vendor that has made the purchasing process pleasant. This means the vendor has been responsive, actively listened to my needs and concerns, been honest about the tool’s capabilities, made clear what my support team and terms will be as a client, and – salespeople, take heed – not incessantly chased me for a commitment. Smart vendors understand the value of an exceptional customer experience in winning and retaining clients.