Am_I_Working_Well_With_My_Vendors

 

Managing your marketing automation vendors well is essential for the success of your marketing initiatives.

 

It’s important to develop strong relationships with vendors in order to get the software, materials, and resources you need to execute your strategy.

 

When marketing automation fails, it’s tempting to blame the vendor. But before you go through the time and expense of switching vendors, issues first:

 

It’s Not Always a Technology Problem

 

Sometimes problems are the result of a mismatch between your objectives and the software capabilities. If that’s the case, you’ll want to look into switching vendors. Before you make the decision to switch, take the time to understand the core problem. Core problems could include: 

 

  • Lack of quality content. Marketing automation software is only as good as the content you give it. Setting up automation of poor quality, irrelevant or superficial content won’t help. Software doesn’t address the effectiveness of your content. Work with your marketing automation vendor to marry your content strategy objectives with software capabilities.
  • Automating the wrong processes. It’s sometimes tempting to rely on the software to do everything for you. Don’t fall into this trap. Assess your current marketing processes and identify situations that follow repeatable steps. Review these processes with your vendor and solicit their automation recommendations. Be careful to not automate processes that require one-on-one interaction.
  • Mistaking Software for Strategy. Software is meant to align with your marketing strategy not replace it. Review your strategy and select where automation software can accelerate execution of your plan. Consider reviewing your strategic plan your vendor to familiarize them with your objectives and execution plan. An educated vendor is an effective marketing partner.

 

Process and Communication Problems

Marketing automation vendors work best when you have a clear process and open communication. In the beginning, your team will need to train the vendor on how you do business. Point out critical marketing processes. Clearly identify how the vendor will contribute to the overall strategy and execution plan. The vendor may be able to help you find more effective ways to use software or offer you a different software package that will more meet your needs.

 

Pay attention to these process and communication red flags:

 

  • Slow Response. Your business can’t afford to wait days for a response. Work with vendors that make representatives available whenever you have a question or problem.
  • Reactive Communication. Your vendor should be taking the initiative to call you. The best vendors will insist on speaking with you weekly to communicate status and recommendations.
  • Winging It. Ask your vendor to walk you through their process for handling customer requests and software support. Ask for your vendor’s process for deploying their solution.

 

Negotiating Scope and Fees

Even if you have a great relationship with a particular vendor, there are times when you’ll have to negotiate, usually when it comes to price. You may also need to negotiate your customer service contract.

 

  • Only negotiate with vendors you trust. If there’s little communication and you don’t feel comfortable with the vendor, it’s probably better to switch vendors than to negotiate.
  • Reach out as soon as there’s a problem. Don’t tell the vendor that you need to get a lower price two days before the contract expires. Give them time, and begin from the presumption that you both want to continue doing business with one another.

 

Be Firm and Patient

Managing your marketing automation vendors is a long-term commitment.  

 

Be prepared to give your vendors a grace period as they learn your business. Make sure your vendor understands that they will be accountable for delivering the results they promised.  

 

We’ll be discussing a variety of vendor management issues this year. Sign up to receive SBI blog updates so you won’t miss future vendor management articles. We’ll send our latest articles directly to your inbox. Just tell us where to send your updates by clicking here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vince Koehler

Brings deep marketing expertise to help clients make brands successful and drive strong marketing return on investment.
Learn more about Vince Koehler >

Prior to SBI, Vince served as the VP of Marketing for Integer and led e-commerce Agency of Record account teams at VML, a full service digital marketing agency. During his tenure, VML became a market leader, growing from 72 to more than 700 employees. Prior to VML, Vince was the President of Propeller Interactive, a digital marketing agency with clients such as Koch & Sprint.

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