HomeBlog Insider's Guide to Choosing a Marketing Automation Consultant

Insider's Guide to Choosing a Marketing Automation Consultant

July 19, 2011 | By Jay Famico

When implementing a MAP, it’s vital to focus on who will do the work. Unfortunately, rather than checking on the skill level of the consultant(s) assigned to the project, organizations often evaluate only the consultancy.

Pretend you are updating your kitchen, at major expense. In addition to buying stainless steel appliances, marble countertops and oak cabinets, you are knocking down two walls and installing a new bay window. You are counting on your remodeled kitchen to be a striking improvement over the current outdated design. So, which carpenter do you hire:

  • One who has remodeled 10 kitchens but has not done any projects as significant as yours
  • Another who has participated in several smaller kitchen remodels, but never as the person in charge
  • A master carpenter who has built and remodeled dozens of kitchens similar to what you want

Understandably, given the level of investment and impact involved, most people would insist on the most experienced carpenter to transform their kitchen.

Apply the same logic to your company’s new marketing automation platform (MAP). When implementing a MAP, it’s vital to focus on who will do the work. Unfortunately, rather than checking on the skill level of the consultant(s) assigned to the project, organizations often evaluate only the consultancy. They develop an appreciation for the types of projects the consulting firm engages in, learn about what clients it works with and the awards it has won, and perhaps they speak with several satisfied clients – but they never bother to find out about the specific people who will work on their project.

Sure, the reputation of a consultancy matters. Good consultancies have standardized processes, valuable intellectual property (e.g. workbooks and frameworks) and access to resources skilled in discrete functional areas (e.g. design, statistics, development, content, strategy). But a significant amount of the value one receives from working with a consulting firm depends on the skills, experience and disposition of the consultant(s) assigned to the project. The consultant, not the consultancy, is the primary (non-internal) factor that determines project success or failure.

With this in mind, interview each primary consultant that the consultancy plans to assign to your project. Then, once you validate that the consultant is an appropriate fit, specify in your services contract the specific consultant(s) who will serve as your engagement manager and primary technology resource. If the consultancy is not able to provide for a named resource, then specify the type of resource that the project will receive – along with the criteria to determine if the resource is an appropriate fit.

Key questions to ask about the consultants assigned to your project (before you sign a contract) are:

  • Experience with the MAP. Has the consultant worked with the MAP as an end user and, if so, for how long and in what capacity? How many projects has he/she worked on and in what capacity? How long has the consultant actively used the technology?
  • Experience with your CRM. Is the consultant certified on the customer relationship management (CRM) system you use? What experiences does the consultant have in CRM?
  • Experience in marketing. What experience does the consultant have in program/field marketing or marketing operations?
  • Experience with projects. Does the consultant hold any formal project management experience either from an educational, work experience or certification perspective?
  • Roles in recent projects. What customers has the consultant recently worked with and in what capacity?
  • Former roles. Before becoming a consultant, what previous roles did the consultant occupy?

By taking the time to ask these questions and ensure that an experienced and capable team is leading your MAP implemention project, you will significantly improve your odds of a smooth and successful result.