Very good question!
Here are some key questions to ask during the sales process. Note, I took these from the Marketing Automation’s Buyer’s Guide I wrote a while back (still 100% relevant!).
Go grab it through this link, or just keeping reading:
Why do I need this?
You’d be surprised how few marketers can answer this question on a demo.
“Uhh, yeah, management said so” or “we want to automate emails”. These are not good reasons to buy a $40k+ platform!
Marketing automation has become a “table stakes” kind of purchase. Marketers just assume they need it. While they often do, the fastest way to ending up using your MAP like a glorified emailer is not having the purchase solve a particular problem.
So, before you start looking at platforms, ask yourself: what’s the problem I’m trying to solve? What does “solve” mean here? When can I speak of a success?
If at all possible, try to put some numbers to your answer. If I put in place marketing automation at X cost, I’m expecting us to generate Y results and save us Z costs.
Who do I need to involve?
A marketing automation implementation involves marketing, sales and IT departments. You should make sure that you involve stakeholders from all these departments. After all, you’re all going to be working with the platform – you should all agree on the best purchasing decision.
I do recommend marketing (or, if you’ve got ’em, marketing ops) being the lead decision maker. But be sure to chart wishes and concerns from sales and IT.
Do I really need all these features?
Marketers purchasing a MAP quickly get greedy! It’s like picking out a new car. The truth is, you won’t use two-thirds of all those features – at least, not in your first year. The basics will take you enough time to implement and establish within the business.
Don’t concern yourself overly with the ability to upload custom fonts or the that one thingie that seems so useful now. Instead, take a good hard look at your actual use cases and find the features that you really need in order to make those happen.
Can I get a trial?
Would you buy a car without driving it first? Nope. But lots of major MAP vendors assume you will buy without trying. Try to get hands-on experience with the platforms you’re into if you can. Our own Net-Results just offers a free 14-day trial. 🙂
Good luck with your buying journey! Here’s a couple of things that will help you if you’re looking for a platform like Pardot or Marketo: