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Evaluating MarTech – What’s in Your RFP?

January 18, 2017

We all know RFPs and RFIs are the currency of the media business, and it’s always good news to get invited to the party. But when RFPs are used in evaluating MarTech, the responses aren’t so straight-forward.

Who Owns the RFP for MarTech?

When a “DMP-curious” agency or marketer decides to draft an RFP, who are they likely going to ask for help? Well, the tech team of course–the technical brains in the organization who own all “Tech”. These are super smart people, but likely may have way more questions than may be relevant to your decision criteria.

With all due respect, when “non-business owners” are responsible for the majority share of the RFP, they may be doing the DMP “stakeholders” a disservice. Through this bias, many times what can be most important to evaluating a solution is undervalued in an RFP template.

As an example, reviewing Data Management Solutions and data-driven marketing, like other tech reviews, involves 3 key elements, (1) Technical (2) Strategic and (3) Partnership. The need to validate how a solution will integrate with other systems is vital, and media folks definitely need the expertise of their tech groups to support tech-related questions. But the other two elements are often under-represented during the MarTech vendor selection process, and deserve more time and energy.

Beyond tech, these RFPs ​ask myriad questions around various capabilities like cross-device, look-alike modeling and on-boarding offline data. Many folks call these “box checkers”. Can you do this, can you do that? But what is missing most times is more specific context. Not just all the “things” a vendor can do, but a focus on the strategies which are needed to accomplish objectives​ and how the technology can help you achieve your specific goals. It’s one thing to identify capabilities, but quite another to speak to specific types of outcomes and objectives.

Strategic Considerations

Clients own the strategy promoted by MarTech, but your MarTech partners should also have guidance on your go to market strategy. What do they think? What recommendations do they have? Ask your vendor to present their strategic approach. How do they approach this work? What questions do they ask? Do you feel they are “getting” it? Working sessions are another great example, which also leads to the next element, partnership.

Partnership Approach for Client Success

You’re best served by a vendor that truly provides a partnership approach to Client Success.  This is more than response and support, but requires that your vendor proactively support your role-out and strategy. BUT – you may ask, how do you know what kind of partner a vendor may be, before you can find-out first-hand? Clearly references are vital, but most evaluation processes don’t start there. The actual evaluation process should give a great sense, after all, if a vendor cannot add value to your evaluation, this may be a strike against them.  This is more than doing a great job talking about their solution, but do they also offer guidance that helps you? Don’t be fooled by salesmanship. The evaluation process is a dry-run for your relationship. Lastly, ask vendors to discuss specifically how your account will be supported and how the vendor’s client success department is structured, and ask to speak to those people.

Making the right vendor decision should include what you see outside the actual RFP response. Consider the manner the vendor engages. Consider how they approach your needs. Do they approach as a strategist, and not just sales rep? More than just relationship, what kind of business partner will this vendor be? Look for those qualifications and requirements that cannot be exhibited in an RFP.

This article was written by Jeff Burak, Lotame’s Regional Sales VP – Western US. He’s based out of Boulder, CO. Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.