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Customer Mix and Focus Matters in Martech Selection.

The type of customers a Martech vendor – or any vendor has, tells a great deal. It provides a proof point on the size of companies, industries, and use-cases. And, in the case where a vendor has relatively few customers in a specific area or none at all, it calls to question the capabilities the vendor has to bear, and the level of expertise its professional services organization has in that area. This information also helps to support or refute whether the vendor’s product roadmap and support options will likely align with the needs of your company moving forward or not.

Below are five areas we examine with every Martech vendor we talk to, in addition to its existing product features and service offerings. Before we get into those, it’s important to note that we explicitly ask about both the amount and percent in each of these areas.

  • Amount. The actual number of active customers that fit into the category.
  • Percent. The percentage of its active customers that fall into the category.

The reason for asking about amount and percent is for context, which is especially important for very large and very small vendors. For example, 60 customers could actually represent a small fraction of a vendor’s client base, and 30% could, in all reality, only represent 8 customers. Meaning a few new customers that fall outside of that category can significantly skew the percentage down.

 

Size.

The client size a vendor typically works with is telling. It guides whether the vendor likely has the features and expertise to support an organization, or if it falls outside the vendor’s norm. If a vendor primarily works only with smaller organizations, for instance, it is likely less of a fit for an enterprise.

Questions to ask:

  • Total customers. How many customers does the vendor have that are larger or smaller than your company?
  • New customers. How many customers of your size has the vendor onboarded in the last 12 months?
  • Revenue. How much revenue do customers larger or smaller than your company contribute to the vendor?

 

Segments.

What industries, geographies, and business requirements does the vendor have expertise? If an organization is based in Europe, and the vendor has little to no European clients, this calls into question how responsive it will be during normal working hours for that team. However, be aware that there are instances where vendors are entering a new segment and won’t necessarily have a historical track record in a specific industry or geography. In these cases, it’s critical to evaluate if the vendor has successfully built out solutions in similar segments and has onboarded new resources with domain-specific expertise. If not, view this vendor with a high degree of skepticism.

Questions to ask:

  • Industry. How many of active customers does the vendor have in your industry?
  • Geography. How many active customers does the vendor have in your region/country/state?
  • Requirements. How many active customers have business requirements similar to yours?

 

Complexity and sophistication.

This area focuses on the use cases a vendor can comfortably address. Some focus on the simple use cases, while others are much more complex. For example, if a vendor focuses most of its efforts on simplified use cases, though it technically may address a more sophisticated scenario, this usually means it will do so at the cost of added complexity and professional services. It may be tempting to select a vendor that can handle the most complex use cases, but this isn’t a good idea because, in some cases, complexity may come at the cost of using a purpose-built solution for baseline requirements.

Questions to ask:

  • Standard vs. optimized. How many of the vendor’s clients have use cases more or less sophisticated the use cases you have outlined?
  • Out of the box vs. professional services. How many use cases, and which of them, can be done out of the box without professional services? Which use cases require some or extensive professional services?

 

Integrations.

Though vendors frequently state they can integrate with any other software vendor, the actual truth is every one of them has preferred integrations. An example would be 90% of the CRM’s a vendor integrates with being of a particular type. A vendor also has integrations it can do but has actually never done, as well as integrations it has done, but only has limited experience with. Also, there is a difference between being INTEGRATED and having an integration. Some integrations are topical, passing baseline data, and affording the ability to drive baseline actions, whereas others are tightly integrated.

Questions to ask:

  • Available integrations. How many of the vendor’s active customers are integrated with the software solutions your company owns?
  • Depth of integration. Drill into the depth and breadth of each integration, asking about the number of clients actively using the integration at a level equal to or greater than your organization requires.

 

Product roadmap.

A Martech vendor’s historical roadmap provides a sense of where it has invested, and the future roadmap indicates where the vendor is headed. This helps to understand if they are prioritizing the features and use cases that matter to your organization or simply paying lip service. Ask vendors about their historical and future product roadmaps through a discussion with a product lead or through an RFI/RFQ.

Questions to ask:

  • Historical roadmap. What were the primary capabilities added into the product over the last year?
  • Future roadmap. What are the primary areas the vendor is looking to build out in the product over the next year?