Controlling What Your Vendor Demonstrates Will Better Inform Your Purchase Decision

Peter O’Neill here and I hope you all had a great summer break. Many Forrester clients, and some vendors and consultants, have been asking me about the progress of our lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) Forrester Wave™ project — especially as many B2B marketing organizations are planning their investments in various marketing automation projects, as documented in a previous blog.

Lori Wizdo is leading this project, while I am the overall content editor for the various reports we will publish. Lori is being ably assisted in her analysis by Sheryl Pattek, with further contributions from other analysts and research associate Michael Schrumm. Our analysis involves several hoops, which we have invited our participating vendors to jump through. Hoop No. 1 is an executive presentation of the vendor's product and company strategy. Hoop No. 2 is a detailed questionnaire, with 80 questions about their product and company — the answers to which form the basis for our Forrester Wave scoring criteria. Hoop No. 3 involves each vendor providing us with at least three customer contacts that we can interview to verify their claims and collect experience reports.

Hoop No. 4 is a 2-hour demo session; for this, we have included a demo script to which the vendors must adhere. We have developed this script for two reasons: 1) Consistency, as it enables us to compare apples with apples — technology vendors usually want to be different (“We have a differentiation strategy!”) and only focus on what they know they do well; and 2) We want to see all the most important functions or subprocesses that the software must support in action. So the demo session is split into 55 minutes where the vendor can showcase six features that it feels are important; 5 minutes showing one specific feature that we request from each vendor; and the scripted 60 minutes where the vendor must demonstrate these scenarios:

1.        Outbound campaign building.This reveals the effort required to create, modify, and execute marketing campaigns.

2.        An inbound scenario.The vendor shows how marketers can create, execute, and report on inbound (content and search) marketing campaigns.

3.        Webinar, email, landing page, and form creation.The vendor shows how marketing can create quick and simple forms and emails without the help of a technical person.

4.        Out-of-the-box CRM integration.The vendor demonstrates how its systems are connected and talk to each other, so that we get a better idea of the level of expertise, the resources, and the time required to accomplish this important integration.

5.        A day in the life of a lead.This reveals how marketing can score, segment, and filter leads for marketing campaigns, including lead capture, scoring, nurturing, and escalation.

6.        A day in the life of a marketing manager.This shows the actionable data provided at the campaign level and for weekly, monthly, and quarterly management decision support.

If you are already in the process of selecting L2RM automation software, the above list is probably also useful for your planning. Tune it for your specific needs and then ask your vendors to follow the script you provide. Don’t let them blind you with their standard demo for 2 hours.

And the Forrester Wave evaluation? Well, all the vendors have now jumped through all our hoops. We are now in the evaluation and scoring phase and will provide feedback to the vendors by September 20. We are now already much better informed to respond to client inquiries or deliver more detailed advisory sessions, and we aim to publish our evaluation in early November. We plan at least two Forrester Wave reports: one for enterprises and one for midsize companies. I will also be creating a report on the key takeaways for L2RM vendors, which will provide feedback to the vendors about their performance in our evaluation. (Here is a similar report from one of my previous Forrester Wave projects.)

Need more details? Drop me a line. As always, I’d love to hear from you on this and other topics.

Always keeping you informed! Peter