Having worked in the Pardot Partner ecosystem for a few years, I have a unique perspective on marketing automation consulting partners and how to choose the best one for your business. I’ve seen the worst and the best — from horribly understaffed projects to extremely pleased clients.
Today is your lucky day, because I’m going to arm you with the questions and considerations you need to make to have the best chance at a very productive, satisfying consulting relationship. Here we go:
1. Which verticals do you specialize in?
In my experience, most partners have a few verticals that most clients fall under — for example, healthcare, SaaS, and financial services. Remember: no matter how good the partner is, if they specialize in financial services and you are in a wildly different business vertical, you may want to look for another partner who has more experience with your type of business model.
2. Do you also offer Salesforce Sales Cloud consulting (and how do you staff that need)?
Marketing automation systems are becoming more and more closely integrated with Salesforce; if your consultant isn’t familiar with how changes in your marketing automation platform affect Salesforce, there is no way that they will be able to help you with constructing the closed-loop reporting, from prospect to closed-won Opportunity, that you desire. Beware of part-time, contractor Salesforce consultants from an agency perspective; they can easily walk away mid-project, and you have not interviewed them personally prior to the engagement to gauge whether they are trustworthy or not.
3. What do you look for when hiring new members of your consulting team?
Check out their current or past job postings — if they have job postings for 1 year or less of experience in the software and do not mention training, this is a red flag and you will likely be overpaying for the level of expertise you will receive.
4. Can you tell me, if I signed on now, who my project manager would be?
This will give you a good idea of how organized the partner is overall. If they are organized, they probably have a loose round-robin approach as to how they assign projects, so they should have a pretty good idea as to who your project manager would be. If possible, I would request and sign on for a specific consultant that you have hand-picked (check them out on LinkedIn!).
5. How many clients will my point of contact have at any given time?
If they give a vague answer, I would be hesitant to trust that they will not overburden your project manager. An overburdened project manager will lead to lower-quality work.
6. What is your project delivery process?
Do you use project management software, and will I get a license? Another indication as to whether they have their act together or not. 🙂
7. What is your Customer Satisfaction score (CSAT)?
In PardotLand, Salesforce requests a client satisfaction score from the customers that it refers to partners, and this can be a decent gauge of the level of customer service you will receive from the partner. However, be careful about relying solely on this metric, as this is not a required survey; so, it is up to the partners’ discretion as to whether they promote the completion of the survey or not (they may only encourage happy clients to fill it out).
8. What is your Glassdoor rating?
Pretty much every company will have one or two bitter ex-employees, but look out for larger negative trends — this could indicate consultant burnout or lack of investment in continuing education for the team.
9. What is your hourly rate?
Does it sound too cheap? Does it scale up based on size of engagement? Do not shoot for the cheapest cost if you can afford better, as I can pretty much guarantee that you will get the service/prioritization to match. As the saying goes, good / fast / cheap — choose 2!
10. What exactly should I expect from my project? What are the deliverables?
If you are just starting out with marketing automation, many partners offer “quick starts;” make sure you understand what you are paying for. If you are, indeed, considering purchasing a quick start, a bonus question for you: what percentage of clients stay on for post implement project work, like managed services?
Pro tip: make sure you allot a chunk of time for the documentation of any processes that your consultant sets up; when you eventually hire in-house, your marketing automation manager will thank you (and, if anything goes wrong, your next consultant will be better equipped to fix the mess). Also — if you expect someone internally to eventually take the reins, form a budget for training! Both of these are worth the money in the long run.
11. Keep in mind: big internal marketing doesn’t always mean better services.
Chances are, your hourly rate is being divvied out in a way that favors marketing efforts, rather than the talent that is serving you. In my opinion, profit is better spent enabling/satisfying existing employees or attracting the best talent.
Ask any and all questions before signing! Don’t forget great questions like “Do non-utilized hours roll over month-to-month?” Get every promise in writing before signing.
Don’t have a large project or need?
There are independent Salesforce and Pardot consultants out there, and they generally are willing to accept smaller projects/commitments — just make sure they have their papers in order regarding liability insurance and written contract terms.
View and like the original LinkedIn post here.
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Sara McNamara is a Marketing Operations Manager and former top-tier Salesforce Pardot Partner senior consultant. She has a special place in her heart for marketing operations, Kanye West, huskies, and people who don’t call her about something that could have been a text/don’t request a meeting about something that could have been an email. She is honored to be the very first B2B marketing Trailblazer to be recognized and featured by Salesforce Trailhead, as well as featured in the first Trailblazers in B2B Marketing | Powered by Pardot magazine. She is also a Marketo Certified Expert and cosigned by Jill Rowley, the greatest sales professional of all time.