“Our solution offers exponential revenue growth opportunities and our customers say it’s super easy to set-up with most any middleware. You’ll be fully operational within a day.”
We know this sounds familiar to those of us on a marketing operations team (MOPs) that’s been tasked with evaluating a martech purchase.
“Business lingo might resonate with people making or influencing decisions who are not dealing with technical/operations questions,” said Helen Abramova, a marketing technology lead and 3X Marketo Champion, “However, if you talk directly to the marketing ops people who run the systems and processes, the conversation must change.”
What NOT to say when talking to MOPs
Abramova and Kelly Jo Horton, principal engineer for the marketing operations and technology team at ROOM, offered the following list of words and phrases that are sure to make any MOPs professional tune out.
- Drive revenue
- Deliver on customer experience
- Improve return on investment
- Add value or value-added (without explaining what the value being added actually is)
- Digital transformation
Abramova makes clear it’s not because the marketing operations team doesn’t understand these terms, but because we understand all too well how marketing technology gets rolled out and how it impacts our business. (We are the drivers of digital transformation, after all).
“[Marketing technologists] are aware that behind the pompous language, there might be buggy products, irresponsive support, technical limitations, custom everything, required development, high efforts and low impact,” said Abramova, “What looks like a small beautiful arrow on the chart might require painful implementation and troubleshooting.”
Horton and Sara McNamara, senior marketing operations manager for Cloudera, both say martech sales reps should omit any descriptions claiming their product integrates easily with other platforms or solutions.
“Integrates easily, easy set-up, deep analytics — these are all red flags,” said McNamara, “When you work in martech you know that nothing integrates easily, very little is super easy to set up, and that, in order to get deep analytics, you have to have things like custom algorithms and super clean data.” She said sales reps need to be real with MOPs teams about the effort it will take to get the technology up and running and focus on the payoff once it’s done.
What we want to hear
While phrases like “integration is super easy” will not be easily believed, Abramova, Horton and McNamara all made clear that MOPs pros indeed want to know whether or not the product includes native integration with marketing automation platforms or CRMs already in use.
“If your tool doesn’t integrate with my existing stack, we are already adding a lot of build cost around this project,” said McNamara, “Vendors should be transparent about integration because even when they manage to sell a product that is a poor fit, they often get claw-back, non-renewal and poor reviews among the MOPs community.”
MOPs leaders also want details on configuration — specifically, does a martech tool include a self-serve configuration model or does it require services to configure?
“The answer to this question will give me an idea of how much control we will have over the configuration of the tool and how long it will take to configure and roll-out,” said Horton, “If I have to ask services and support for help every time I want to make a small configuration change, this is a bottleneck.”
In the end, Abramova said all MOPs pros want to know is how the product/platform/service performs.
“Name the product category (or the closest one if it doesn’t fit anywhere), then explain very specifically how you are different from your competitors,” said Abramova.
MOPs are also very interested in how data is structured and what the major data flows are. Also, if there is any PII (personally identifiable information) involved or compliance/data security requirements.
Implementation, too. We want to know the average time it will take to implement the tool, if it includes customized field mapping features or requires API access.
McNamara is a big believer that hiding the cost of the solution is never a good idea.
“Whenever a rep tries to avoid a price conversation, I know that they’re not confident that their product is good enough to justify the high cost that comes with it,” said McNamara, “I can feel a large six-figure deal coming from a mile away!”
Sending integration documents before a sales meeting, as well as links to developer and end-user documentation if any exist, also helps us prepare, says Horton.
Forget the script
McNamara said one of the best martech reps she’s worked with was a woman who could speak directly to the technology that she was selling because she had done her homework and knew the offering up and down. That’s what a MOPs pro wants from these exchanges.
“I think that not enough martech vendors allow or support their reps to be trained deeply enough to be able to riff about their own product,” said McNamara. “I don’t usually get routed to a dev team, but I do often hear ‘let me invite a solutions engineer’ or ‘let me get back to you’ so they can ask those folks for answers.”
Of course, sometimes these kinds of meetings take place at trade show booths, and that’s when marketing ops has one thing in mind: a demo.
“One of the most bizarre things I come across is that sales reps do not want to show their platform’s UI at their conference booth,” said Abramova, “What I hear is that it’s a great tool to drive revenue growth, but when I interrupt as politely as possible, I am only offered to schedule a demo. I am standing right here, in front of a screen and willing to see the product — but no.”
Like many of us, Abramova finds it much easier to understand the concept and key features when she sees the UI. But instead of taking advantage of the moment and showing her the technology, sales reps often ask to schedule a pre-demo call so that they can understand business needs — creating an unnecessary step in the process that takes up more time and calendar space. We don’t like that.