Big, smart software vendors like Salesforce, Oracle, and Adobe are not selling technology to companies. They’re selling vision; the potential of renewed capacity and competitive edge, should you apply the technology well; an outcome with the assumption of proficiency. There’s nothing deceptive in that—they’re shooting high, excited by the genuine transformation they know technology can deliver.

But then you make the purchase. You’re at step one with what amounts to an empty database, a long way from what you thought you bought. So what now?

When you buy into the promise of big software, the tech companies will most often recommend consultants only in the context of deployment. They say, You may need help getting everything switched-on, but what’s missing is the conversation on how to build-out the capabilities and drive adoption to fulfill the vision. Before we’ve even begun, there’s a disconnect—the company buys a vision; they get sold software; they buy services to deploy the software. The vision remains an abstraction nobody understands, let alone delivers. A few months or quarters later, a frustrated, unfulfilled marketing or sales team comes back to the tech companies to say, “Your marketing technology didn’t work for us!”

Success is not a switch. Success is a journey, and journeying is an expertise you can choose to bring on-side. Imagine, on the work order: one line item that says ‘Software’ and another that says ‘Results’. To get beyond deployment, it helps to have a guide.

What to look for in a MarTech Implementation partner

Marketing needs help in two ways: the creative fuel (brand and campaign usually delivered by creative agencies), and the technical capacity to deliver well in the digital age. Selecting the right kind of help is just as important as selecting the software or hardware—ideally, we want a blend.

Consulting partners in Martech should be able to do more than help you choose or deploy software and hardware. They should be a collaboration of campaign-designers, revenue funnel technologists, and brand platform experts who value excellence in delivery, just as much as excellence in message.

Some enterprises, uncertain of the best way forward, resolve to put-together an in-house or agency team. It’s a fair assumption—companies these days have truly innovative and deeply-experienced people in IT and Operations.

If a company was to keep the project in-house, what roles would be mission-critical?

Most IT teams have technical skills, and some have analysts or generalists on-hand too. But when it comes to lead management methodologies, few in-house technologists will have hands-on experience that blends both technical and business know-how. In the digital age, marketing technology is not a straight-up deployment. It’s a whole new approach to the revenue funnel that requires experience in business transformation, change management, and ROI specific to lead management. No matter how well-versed an internal team may be at the mechanics of its own systems, they’re likely to misconfigure or under-configure martech, causing delays and shortfalls. You’ll need equal excellence in MarTech  implementation, strategy, funnel workflow, and sales and marketing methodologies. Most IT teams—even the best and brightest—don’t have that.

How do we assess what’s most needed? How do we triage the most immediate needs, and rally every possible advantage?

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Masters of route-finding: the road ahead

Complex business systems like marketing automation and sales automation platforms are not plug-and-play, and they cannot be. Each company has unique offerings, goals, competitive pressures, challenges, and people. The bold vision which these systems can enable requires a total rethink of how a company aligns its marketing and sales resources and engages the buyer.

Think of one of the most basic elements  of marketing automation—the email. A basic deployment will enable a company to send emails, ensuring the marketing automation platform can perform the essential functionality of the email service provider (ESP) it is replacing. Without a plan and a team to continue pushing the adoption of marketing automation, that expensive marketing automation platform will become a glorified ESP.

Instead, the company could utilize automated multi-channel nurture to facilitate the buyer journey, actively influencing the prospect towards consideration and evaluation of its products. Consultants who have done this dozens of times for other companies can enable rapid adoption of transformative business capabilities that these systems offer.

To realize the promise and potential of a transformed revenue engine you’ll need to proactively clear the path of impediments and anticipate needs from the get-go.

It’s a daunting and high-stakes endeavour to evolve the way a company sells and markets to customers, implementing completely new approaches, tactics, and mindsets that ask people to work—and think!—differently. Done well, changes in this arena can generate more than revenue: impactful revitalization, advantage, and energy. But if software that made big promises causes headaches or gathers dust, it’s not just a loss of opportunity. It’s a resignation to the inefficiencies and friction of the status quo. With every rollout that goes ‘clunk’, teams lose faith in the collective ability to discover and capitalize on a better way.

It is within reach to work smarter. No matter which technology you acquire, keep in mind the vision that you bought and ensure you have the right team onboard to deliver. When it comes to marketing automation and sales automation technology, make sure you have people on your team with the background of systems integrators, analysts, technology service providers, and lead management consultants to enable your company to achieve the vision behind the technology. Seek out deeply-experienced people who are thinkers, doers, and builders, but who can also design revenue funnels, marketing and sales strategy, and a change that sticks.

With the right team on board an engine becomes more than a hunk of metal. It becomes movement.