As the resident “Lead Analyst” within the Propolis service, I’ve been working with the B2B Marketing organisation for many years now. Launched in March 2021 as an exclusive digital community for B2B marketers, Propolis has collected, by design, a very diverse membership, not just marketing executives but entire marketing teams in companies of all sizes.
I think that Propolis has proven to be nothing less than a game changer for B2B marketing as an industry, as a profession, and most of all as a community. After all, the way that business professionals want to consume and discuss industry and disciplinary trends has changed to become much more:
- Digital. Meaning that there is interactivity, not just website documents.
- Where all job levels can afford to benefit from the information.
- Discussion-based. Where peer inputs are valued just as much as the so-called experts.
In the next weeks, we will be extending our coverage and publishing our first B2B Marketing Martech Vendor Spotlight report; this edition focused on vendors supporting account-based marketing (ABM).
When I was asked to design and research the Spotlight report, I realised that here was a great chance to create something different than the classical research analyst reports available so far. Those waves and quadrants score compare the vendors based primarily on their product offering. My experience helping B2B marketers in their vendor selection process (I often recommend using Design Thinking) has been that the supplier itself is equally, or perhaps even more, the focus of attention and evaluation.
No, the make-or-break questions that I get asked in my workshops are more about how a vendor will work with them as a client:
- “Will they help us to set up and run the solution?”
- “How do they react when something goes wrong?”
- “Do they have programmes to help ensure we get a return on our investment?”
So, first we select and spotlight those vendors we feel are most relevant and important for the Propolis members (a mix of both large enterprise and small-medium sized businesses). Then we profile each vendor and score it on four criteria relevant to the topics listed above. We also field a detailed vendor questionnaire asking about the resources in place to ensure successful implementation, integration, user adoption, and even value management of the ABM solution. Not every vendor responds and completes the survey (yet – as this is the first report after all) but my 20+ years of working at META Group, Gartner and Forrester Research, plus seven years of user surveys and report writing for Research In Action, is experience enough for me to craft and score all the profile pages.
These four criteria are critically important to potential buyer teams when evaluating and shortlisting vendors and the stress being on CUSTOMER SUCCESS more than individual product features:
- Market Momentum. Here, we have assessed how well a vendor helps prospective buyers to understand the solution offering and how it fits into their environment.
- Customer Focus. Almost all software solutions are now delivered as-a-service and the most successful SaaS vendors are those who help their clients on an ongoing basis, not just in response to support calls.
- Price vs Value. As with any business investment, marketing executives need to be assured that the investments they make in technology are providing an appropriate payback.
- Implementation Success. The true test of a business partnership is the commitment from a vendor to supporting the integration of their system with whatever the client has in place already.
We score each criterion as strong, good, medium, or low.
The B2B Marketing Martech Vendor Spotlight Report on ABM will be published in the upcoming months. Further Spotlights will follow over the next year covering topics like marketing operations, marketing resources, asset management, digital content management, digital experience, customer data management and digital event management.