Today, I had a call with a potential client. During the discovery session I found they are in the middle of a marketing automation and sales force implementation, and not much experience doing so. Knowing many consultants and employees implementing these platforms don’t know the “get-cha” items, I offered the following list of items to address sooner rather than later. There are tons of high level articles on how to administer requirement gathering and implement these platforms that you can find on the internet. And as I professed on my blog objective, I will not post such high level information. So here are a few deep dive items that can “get-cha” if you don’t think and address them up front.

Feel free to call me for a deep dive into any of these items.

1. Understand clearly the definitions and native process and assumptions for prospect, customer and lead. Most MA and SFA platforms assume natively that once a customer, never a lead again. That means that if the MA creates a “lead” which turns into an Opp and Account, it can never be a lead again. (ouch) Thus, if you have multi products or other reasons for lead assignment (customer sales call requested), you should understand the behavior in each system. Create your user customer experience and think about how the MA/SFA will collect, integrate, assign (or not) each piece of information from the ‘object’ and ‘field level’.

2. Decide before you launch who and if someone can delete or dedup (merge) in either system. Last year I found that ‘sales’ people were deleting leads because they wanted to clean up their ‘view’ and saw no potential  (oop’s), and deleting contacts because they were no longer with the company. Typically these systems are bidirectionally synched and deleting or merging in either or both systems can result in 1) incorrect reporting, 2) integration errors, 3) new lead creation, 4) legal permission issues (opt-out) and much more. I typically ask clients to restrict this until we sit down and review integration functionality capability (dedup/merge replication), pro’s and con’s.

3. Decide immediately and typically before data architectural design and configuration, what you want to report on. Often, my clients build the platform(s) natively which don’t allow for reporting on 1) pipeline stage, 2) lead age, 3) multi-product dimensions, 4) competitor/employee exclusions, 5) separation of partners, customers and prospects, 6) campaign vs medium vs source vs medium vs channel.

4. What are the data relationships you need to facilitate sales 360 degree view? This can be “family members”, businesses with employees, company parent/child relationships and much more. Thinking about your data architecture and system limitations/capabilities are key.

5. Where in the world are your prospects/customers and what are the global compliance regulations? This is more so key for those outside the USA. A few questions are: do I need to understand the difference between an opt-in vs ‘blank’ (not knowing if they opted in), Am I required to explicitly ask for emailing permission or can I do it implicitly? How do I unsubscribe across duplicates (which value survives)? What occurs with merging of same person but different email addresses? Do I have a query template that includes each countries compliance rules or does my system have automated rules that may not match my custom permission values? What if someone opt’s back in…does it overwrite that in the other system?

6. How to you handle sales call inquiries? You should think about all the inbound data entry points. How do you score to ensure those inquiries make it to sales or inside tele teams? Do you want inbound sales calls flagged so it scores better. What occurs after returned call is made? It is my experience that this is often missed in use case development. Typically a MAP will not create a lead if a lead already exists or if it is a customer and thus, building out the use case and diagramming what occurs to ensure that someone is notified that a call has been requested is absolutely key.

7. Document and review slowly the data integration rules for each and every field. Do you want that field from the MAP or SFA system to insert the new value, overwrite, update or append. This applies to forms and all data entry points as well – think about the action of the new information you are collecting or transferring and the step in the buyer’s journey. I often remind people that during the beginning of the buyer’s journey, especially if too much is gated, people tend to add invalid form data. Think about each data entry point, where it is in the journey and how the information should be added to your systems.

8. How to identify those that should never be a lead and/or not receive your marketing material? Do you need a means to identify “reject” (not create a lead) contacts or leads such as vendors/employees who complete forms during testing processes or competitors attempting to get your information? Setting up a data field, flagging rules and then every report and query includes an exclude or include statement is the easy solution. I have seen clients making business decisions about form templates and campaign success based on metrics that included 80% employee’s who completed the forms for the purpose to obtain the content or testing purposes. It is key not only to filter out these people but monitor these ‘rejected’ actors as it may indicate a need for a more robust sales enablement process.

9. How are leads, inbound calls, partners, competitors, vendors and accounts assigned and routed. Do you want people from Europe to be assigned to a specific queue or person? Do you not want to create a lead for a competitor?  Do you want to assign partners differently than prospects and customers?  Are your competitors also technology partners? An example might be by geography which means you have a means to collect, append or deduce that geography (ex: state or country) up front on all data entry points if distribution is going to occur. I often find clients that only collect email and yet they want to report or assign a lead to their rep by geography. There are many opportunities including appending based on area code, appending, catch all queues, gating for info (progressive profiling) and more.

10. Data Entry Points – Data Entry Points – Data Entry Points. Develop carefully, understand, gate, monitor and have template documents for every data entry point up front. In general, the less data entry points, the easier to monitor and control. What are data entry points? Any means that data can get or be modified into your system. This includes, Offline Import, Forms, Software integrations, MDM or data warehouse integrations, manual intervention (marketing/sales/administers) etc. It is absolutely critical that you think about the standard field values, minimum requirements for each platform, create processes and super users who are detailed orientated.

Marketing automation is not an implement out of the box nor a set-it-and-forget-it piece of software, at least not if you want it to transform your business.  These and other “get-cha” items can be managed if you follow a proper requirements, design and implementation plan. Don’t rush your implementation as going back later can cost you more than spending the time up front. For the most successful implementation, make sure your plan is structured to think about the “get-cha” items, get Sales involved, and employ the best and brightest minds.

Click Here to find out more about me.