Martech Marketing

How to maximize martech investment with comprehensive vendor support



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March 8, 2023 | 5 min read

By Lee Miles, chief customer success officer at Sitecore

By Lee Miles, chief customer success officer at Sitecore

There's a quote from former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld that goes like this: "There are known knowns — there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns — that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."

Though not spoken in the context of organizations investing in the martech stack, it still rings true for companies navigating a challenging digital transformation landscape. Every organization has its areas of expertise; it knows exactly what its core competencies are and what it does best. That's the easy part. The next one is more challenging: realizing that the organization falls short in certain areas can be a bitter but necessary pill to swallow. The last one is critically important to any organization's long-term success: recognizing issues that haven't come up yet. Though you might not know what they are yet, it is crucial to have the flexibility and agility to scale and navigate the barriers.

To cover all three, a robust technology stack is necessary to add value to the organization. But that's only part of the battle: technology isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, and not all vendors can fulfill the needs of an organization throughout the process. Technology benefits the organization when used as intended to its fullest capabilities. Below, I'll discuss the importance and impact of implementing a full, robust education and support program to effectively select and integrate new solutions for the martech stack. Education and support help businesses enhance the known knowns while understanding the known unknowns and unknown unknowns of technology.

Enhancing the vendor relationship

Given the time, money, and other resources spent in adopting a new technology solution, it can be devastating to operations and the bottom line when the vendor or the vendor's technology fails to meet the mark. It's one thing for vendors to be present and accountable during the process of technology integration. But everything that happens beyond that point makes the relationship genuinely impactful. That is where the actual value of the investment is realized.

A valuable vendor offers a strong three-way partnership between itself, its partners, and the customer:

● The customer brings detailed knowledge of the company's requirements and goals, in-depth insights into existing systems, and a keen focus on the end-user experience.

● The vendor provides product knowledge and expertise, quality assurance, technical support, data insights, and a strategic adoption roadmap.

● Partners offer high-level implementation and integration expertise, domain expertise, quality production, and powerful analytics and optimization capabilities.

Organizations cannot realize the total value of their investment without partnerships. The ability to lean on outside expertise from vendors and partners is crucial for eliminating costly operational inefficiencies, including increased help desk tickets and limited platform integrations. This external assistance makes a significant difference, not only during the implementation process but with ongoing education and keeping everyone moving at the lightning-quick speed of technology. Technology changes much faster than humans or organizations, which causes an increasingly large gulf between the two parties. Eventually, this requires an organizational reset, which requires a vendor committed to the entire process, not just one piece.

Ensuring compatibility and 360-degree support

Not every organization adopts an entirely new technology stack; sometimes, the situation requires integrations that complement the existing platform and solutions. In any case, there are five questions that every technology leader must discuss with potential vendors:

1. Is the platform the right fit?

2. Can it be integrated efficiently?

3. Will the technology actually be used?

4. Can the platform scale with the company's needs?

5. Does it demonstrate quantifiable, attributable ROI?

Before proceeding with a solution that could have significant downstream implications if ineffective, leadership must answer these questions affirmatively. For some organizations, it's as simple as finding a plug-and-play solution; for others, the needs might be more complex. Vendors must be able to provide a solution commensurate with demand, but that's only part of the puzzle. The underlying thread that empowers success is a sustained, comprehensive education and support program. What does that entail?

● End-to-end vendor availability, including a customer support portal, community forums, and a dedicated customer success agent

● In-depth insights on daily operations, including business optimization tips, solution consulting, and Q&A sessions with industry experts

● Coaching and learning tools, including 1:1 sessions with expert coaches, a launch readiness guide, and field validation based on user inputs

● Development, training, and certification opportunities, including vendor-led training on the platform basic, ongoing e-learning modules, and vouchers for virtual training and certification

● Supporting customers and offering strategic, timely and relevant advice is one of the most critical roles a vendor can play

Without an engaged partner, organizations have to fend for themselves in a complex world of martech solutions, which can lead to missteps that might sink the business. Here's the bottom line: the long-term viability of an organization's technology investments depends on continuous support throughout the relationship. The job isn't finished when technology is installed – support must continue, along with constant updates of platform features that resonate with the needs and goals of customers and employees.

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