Ops Cast | Josh Hill: Vendor Relations / Management and Negotiations

In this episode we talked with Josh Hill about his view and approach to vendor management. We talked about the distinction between managing software / technology vendors and consultants / agencies. 

Josh also shared his view on three models of how to build an ROI model to support a bringing on a new vendor. 

Recorded live on September 1, 2021.

Hi, I’m Michael Hartmann, I’m Naomi Lou, and I’m Mike Rizzo. And this is ops cast, a podcast for marketing ops pros and rev ops pros created by the MO Pros. The number one community for marketing operations. As professionals tune into each episode as we chat with real professionals to help elevate you in your marketing operations career.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 24 of the ops gas by the MO Pros and Michael Hartmann. You’re your host today. I’m joined with my co-host Mike Rizzo. Mike, say hello. Hey everybody. All right, today we are going to be talking to, uh, with Josh hill. He is the AVP of marketing automation and technology at RingCentral.

And we are going to be talking to him about vendor relations and management and negotiations. I think there’s a topic that, um, for those of us who got into the space probably didn’t know a whole lot about, and I have had to learn on the fly. So this will be a good one for everyone to learn. Josh has held several roles at RingCentral over the past few years and led the effort to build a marketing operation center of X.

Prior to RingCentral, Josh held a variety of roles in consulting and an internal organizations. In addition, Josh created the marketing rock guides that may have other scenarios who used. Marquetto probably remember. I know I’ve leveraged it before in my past. Josh. Thanks for joining us today. Thanks. Glad to be here.

So let’s get this party started. All right. So one of the things kind of connecting the dots from our last episode, we talked about some hidden parts of marketing operations. We didn’t touch on vendor management or vendor relations in that. But I think that would, could have been easily on the list as well, you know, with the, with the expansion of the MarTech landscape in lots of, uh, consultancies and agencies, things like that.

How do you approach the management of vendors at RingLead and how has that approach evolved over the year? Well, I’ll, I’ll speak for my, how I approach it. Not necessarily how I always do it at ring RingCentral. Um, so, you know, there’s a difference between consultants in software. And I think that’s important, know that difference and, and manage those two areas differently.

Right? So consultants are always about in sow service level agreements or SLS, and there can be a lot of room for interpretation when you’re dealing with an agency. So it’s important that you know what you’re getting into and why, whether that’s an extension of your team. Um, whether that’s for a particular project and how you guys want to work together.

And a lot of the agencies, at least in marketing tech tend to be small businesses that are founder run, and you can have really great conversations and, you know, have Frank conversations about staffing and needs, et cetera. And sometimes that’s bad because you know, they may not be able to change or grow with you.

And you just have to know that upfront and know what you need and work that out with them. Um, in terms of, you know, a software vendor, you really do have to know what you need before you start engaging with them, because they’re going to look at pricing scale, feature, delivery, support, backend scale on.

If you don’t know what you need, you may end up with the wrong vendor. Um, so we can dive into that more. Of course.

Yeah, so let’s let it, why don’t we go ahead and go into that a little bit more. So you did differentiate between software vendors in tech versus agencies, consultancies. Um, maybe we can drill down a little bit on when you say you have to know what you need. That makes me go right to, Hey, we’ve got to create this, you know, all inclusive requirements document.

And kind of presuppose that we actually know what we need and in some ways, yeah. So I’d be curious, like, how do you, when you say need to know what you want, what do you mean? Uh, like tech specs, do you mean, uh, this is the outcome or this is what we’re trying to accomplish in general, and then you kind of go to the market and see what’s available.

Yeah, largely, um, talking to you a couple examples, cause I kind of hear where you’re going with that. So, um, if you do happen to know exactly what you need, whether it’s software or what you need from an agency, um, that is 100% always good to have up front, write that down. Use cases, requirements, specifications, and.

Map that back to what that vendor can do for you and ask them those questions and even ask them to just fill out the spreadsheet and which I’ve done many times, including the first time. Got Marquetto, which was here, all the features I think I need do do them. How do you do them? What’s that pricing look like?

Um, and people, you know, salespeople will respond to the RFP. A lot of companies have RFP response teams that will be happy to fill out the blanks for you. And you can narrow it down from there. Now the challenge is sometimes maybe you don’t know what you need or you’re, you have vague notions. And that’s where you really have to do research upfront.

And, you know, marketing automation is a good example of that a few years ago, where not everyone really had a good understanding of what it was even about. And you could easily be influenced by a vendor that had an opinion like HubSpot or Marketo. And that can be good because maybe you didn’t think about some of those things that can also lead you down a path that maybe you didn’t fully understand.

So if you do all that research ahead of time, looking at all the white papers, the blogs reviews, which we have a lot more of these days. Um, and gather that information and let that inform your RFP because you know, maybe you needed a CDP and didn’t realize that’s what you needed. Um, but letting the vendor entirely dictate, that will almost certainly let you go to with a vendor.

Maybe that wasn’t a hundred percent right. For you. So feel free to be influenced, but also make sure you’re doing it consciously and not getting sold. Something that isn’t appropriate, um, you know, with a consultancy or an agency, um, that not knowing what you’re looking for from that agency can be very dangerous because you can end up with a really open-ended contract with, uh, unclear outcomes.

And I think an agency that tries to take advantage of that is probably not one. You should hire much better to say, Hey, I want. You know, a thousand hours of campaign operations support as an extension of my team. How do you guys manage that? And how do you want to have it managed? And some, you may find a good fit with an agency or two, or you may not, and you need to be open with them about how you want to work and they should be open with you, how they work, what’s profitable for them.

So you can have a good relationship. Um, you know, I’ve definitely had gone through a number of agencies and had different experiences and learned a lot from that. Uh, you know, Uh, 25 page contract. That’s very, it outlines exactly what’s going to be delivered when, what the, um, what the standards are for, you know, delivery for UAT, for acceptance.

You shouldn’t do that, but if that’s not what you’re looking for, don’t do that because then it will create a lot of extra process and burn half your money just in project management. You also have to be careful about asking for things like who’s going to be on the team. Who’s on my support team. Are you going to get junior people who don’t really know how to think through the problem?

Or are you going to only work with one person who’s going to farm out the work to their team and you don’t have to worry about that.

Those are all great. Call-outs and I think, um, I certainly, I certainly have been burned by a lack of, um, You know, w knowing what to ask for what to look for, um, when engaging with a service provider or a software company, or a service provider that represents the software company, which we find a lot in Salesforce, right?

Like Salesforce largely doesn’t do anything themselves. They have partner networks that are extensive and vast. Um, and I think it’s such a strange, uh, I dunno, challenge maybe is the right way to, to describe that where we were implementing this, you know, community platform, uh, at this, this organization that I was at.

And at the end of the day, I have no idea being a marketing ops person, right. Someone who really wants to understand how a piece of technology works, what it can do, what it can’t do, all of its limitations. I like, I don’t have time to read through all of the documentation. I need a little bit of advising.

Um, and I think that’s one of the, the things that just seems to be missing, particularly in that Salesforce model. Um, I’ve, I’ve encountered at other places, but definitely in the Salesforce partner ecosystem where you just, depending on who you’re working with, there’s great partners out there. Um, but I was certainly not being advised on oh yeah.

If this is the direction you want to go with building out this community, you know, platform, um, here’s, you know, here’s a roadmap for the next two years of what’s possible. And here’s maybe what you want to try to bite off as you go to deploy and build this thing out from, from ground zero. Like you, you didn’t have anything at all.

Here’s where you could go. We didn’t get any of that. That was, it was just purely. Oh yeah, no. We’ll implement for, you know? Yeah. Well, I asked for things and they don’t things and they’re like, oh yeah, no, I can’t do that. It’s like, okay, well, can you give me a little, little clue? Right. I think a lot of people have that posting my budget with this.

Yeah. I mean, if I have that challenge now in certain areas and you know, some companies are really good at that having offering and having their own inside agency, um, Yeah. I think a lot of us learned how to do that. Building marketing automation platforms the last few years and realizing the documentation was not telling you really how to do it.

It was, yeah. This feature does this, but how do you string them together to build. That tells you what you want to know. And that’s what I did. And so a lot of us did over the last 10 years and each tool kind of has that. And if it’s a real platform, you’ll have a community to ask those questions, but you’re right.

Like there was no one to ask 10 years ago, you were kind of relying on the vendor’s point of view and hoping you could figure it out. And that I saw a lot of failed implementations because of that. And that’s where vendors really have to know. What the maturity levels is on the customer side about their ability to use that technology and get that support in there in some way, or maybe not even work with that customer and not oversell them.

Um, which I talked about a few times over the last few years in the kind of my MarTech maturity model. You know, it’s an internal tool as well as a vendor tool. If you want predictive lead scoring, for example, And, you know, a vendor could sell you that, or you could build it, but if no, one’s used to leveraging any kind of score prioritization system.

It may be very difficult to get sales, to trust and use it. Whereas if you’ve laid the groundwork and planned things out and people have kind of tried out various models, they may be much more receptive to that process and knowing how that process works before you plug in another yet, another tool is really a critical thing and that’s really.

You have to do when you’re looking at a software implementation, is, does this fit into our process? Is it going to force us to change our process? Now marketing automation vendors are very good over the last, at one point over the last few years about convincing people, their process needs to change and updating and rigor.

And I see a lot of vendors not really paying attention to that anymore. And. That can become a challenge. So as a marketing ops person, marketing technology person, you know, it’s incumbent upon us to manage that and know about that and decide, you know, maybe the process needs to change first. Maybe it’s a process issue and not a tech issue.

That’s where I see a lot of people getting hung up, especially with marketers and salespeople is. They’ll tell you vendor X doesn’t work. And when you dig into the question more, it’s not that the vendor X doesn’t work it’s that the process around that or that the workflow inside that vendor is no longer valid something that business change.

Maybe it’s a requirement, maybe something’s new and no one told you. So if you don’t have internal alignment, what’s the point of bringing in automation or a new vendor?

If I feel like I’m having PTSD, this is bringing up like, example, I’m going back. Oh yeah. I had that happen where a vendor oversold me or, um, I didn’t really know what I want and they didn’t help me educate myself along the way. So I’ve learned over the time, like on software and technology, if I’m still trying to figure out what is it I even need to ask for beyond what I think is a very specific, maybe a specific.

Process or problem we’re trying to solve. I will tell them, like, I, I need you to help, help me understand what it is your product can do, help us to do. And I need you to translate it for me so that I understand it in my own language so that I can then take it back to arts from internally. So that’s, I think it’s a really good call out that you, that whole process of selecting and understanding and researching vendors, and it gives a challenge for all.

’cause a lot of the, like a lot of these tech vendors and there’s lots of them have really good sales teams that are really good at getting inside organizations. Um, so I think that’s one the other, so the other one you brought up, Josh, I think is really important is, is his readiness like organizational readiness too, for a piece of technology.

I think that is often a step, a sure way to have something fail to. Yeah. Hey, we think we need to bring in this technology, but really the sales seems not onboard. Yeah, the marketers aren’t on board. Yeah. Whatever. Right. And you know, we just, so we can plug something in, but it’s kind of like the field of dreams, right.

Nobody’s going to know when it’s going to come to it. It doesn’t matter the last thing. And I think this was one that I hope I want to make sure people pick this up. And this goes back to the agency consultancy side. I’ve had just like you, I think your point about a lot of these agencies are small, you know, founder run companies.

But they can all be really, really good. What I think your point about, like, you want to find a relationship with them? That is transparent. Yeah. And it’s effective for you as someone who’s engaging with them from a company side, but also profitable for them. I think a lot of us want to squeeze so much out of those vendors that it becomes one where you’re not going to get their best effort.

It might be. Thank you create an incentive for them to put, you know, sort of the weakest link in their team or not giving you the dedication or not. And I think that’s a mistake we can all make. And I think that’s an a really, I think your point about making sure that it’s profitable and beneficial for them as well as a good point.

So I’m really into. Kind of stuff. I love this conversation already. Well, I’m sure we could go continue on with down that level. Absolutely. So one of the things I just touched on right is, is organizational readiness. And I think it ties to. For folks, especially if you’re getting into a larger organization, part of what you have to do is if you see a need, you go out and you do some research, you say, okay, I think there’s this, you know, a small set of vendors that we could do to address this challenge or problem, or it’s going to help us elevate what we’re capable of doing.

Yeah. At some point, then you have to turn around and you’d probably have to go pitch the idea internally. So you turn into a sales person internally on how do you, how do you get approvals and money and funding and support for it? You know, how, how, how, what have you seen work and not work? And how do you approach it?

Yeah. Well, I’m actually going to speak about that soon on a presentation in a couple of weeks, but, um, there’s a lot of ways to deal with selling internally. And this is where people kind of cringe because part it is partially politics and you’ve got to get alignment internally and decide if you can even do this right?

Because you start promising. Yeah. If you, if you buy into this. I’m going to deliver X and you’re going to get Y so you better be sure you can do it. We’re really close to it. Um, obviously there’s always bumps along the way. Uh, but when you pitch, you know, you gotta have solutions. First people are always coming to me and this was true in all my jobs, you know, I want vendor X.

Okay. Well, what do you actually want? It’s an outcome, right? It’s a process. It’s an automation. It’s saving time. So you want to talk about solutions first, and even if, before you go out to the marketplace, what is the solution I’m looking for? I don’t necessarily want marketing automation, but I want full funnel transparency so I can make better choices about my spend as well as save a lot of time by automating away, nurture for example.

So knowing all that in advance is really important and being able to encapsulate the core concepts of what you’re trying to sell. Um, is there actually a need for this? Are you trying, are you solving a real problem or is it not really a problem? And. Sometimes when you dig into the questions that come up there, isn’t actually a problem.

That’s how it’s supposed to work. And that’s what we need it to work. And that’s bringing in more technology is not actually going to change anything. It’s going to be a big waste of time. So be sure you’ve covered that part too. Um, is this the right solution or do we understand the solution and then you can really go into, well, what is the real ROI?

And the three types of ROI that I like to look at our first cost today versus the future cost. And that’s kind of a limited one-year view. Typically, you know, if you’ve got a process that you have identified that takes 25 people on cost, $10 million to run and. Someone has given you the idea that you can change the process or bringing in a tool to automate a lot of that.

Now it’s only going to cost you $1 million. That’s a pretty big ROI. A lot of people will sign on for that project. Um, they can reallocate that money. Everyone will be happy. They don’t have to manually do something anymore and you’ve got to win. Probably the biggest one I’ve had like that is around email reply automation.

Marie had a kind of a 10 X return like that. Uh, but not everything’s going to have that, but as long as you’re showing some of that, sorry, I love that one. Email reply automation is a huge one. Yeah. And you know, you’ve got to have the volume to do it, but in terms of compliance and we do some risk taking over.

All that work that people are doing that is, could be really tr treasury. Like that’s, that’s a huge winner for you. Um, the second one is about opportunity costs and that’s, I least I call it opportunity cost, and that’s really where you need to have a good understanding of your funnel, um, or have some good at level estimation around your funnel.

My example is usually a calendar tool where clicking on something to have someone’s schedule their own meeting with your, one of your reps or with executives or with you. You know, there is a time savings that you could potentially calculate instead of going back and forth. There also could be a reduction in friction where maybe you’re making more meetings per month because of that reduction in nobody’s getting annoyed, that they have to spend three days going back and forth with you.

Um, so you can estimate that. And as long as you have a reason to estimate about what you can gain from that. And you show your math to an executive. They’re probably going to go along with you. They might ask some questions and you might have to redraw it a couple of times if your assumptions are incorrect.

Um, but that’s a one the other way to get that. And that’s probably where a lot of people looked at marketing automation, email reply management, as well as kind of like click to calendar tool. So if you’re, if you find yourself struggling to say, well, How do I sell this internally? And it’s something that someone says, well, we should have it.

Everyone has this. That’s where you probably want to look at an opportunity cost or ROI analysis, because someone will eventually come by and say, well, what’s the ROI on that? And you’re like, well, we should have it. That’s not really a good answer. You need to think through that. The last one that I enjoy the most, but is not always applicable and scale over time.

You know, if someone comes to you and says, I need you to triple out. Over the next three years. And you can’t just add people. You can’t just add whatever the other inputs to it. How do you scale it up? You need to go think about that. And ideally, you’d come back with a plan that showed that. The cost will flatten over a time and that you’ll get some sort of scale out of this.

Now it could be that you can’t come up with a good idea. Maybe its costs don’t scale properly. Um, you probably have to go think harder about that or maybe rethink everything, but that’s a good way to look at in-house versus agency. That’s a good way to look at potentially bringing in some sort of automation as well over time.

You know, if you’re going to spend. I’m just making up numbers, right? So let’s just say, it’s going to cost you a million dollars to set up an automate some process over the next year, but over the next three or four years, that cost will be dramatically less than what it would have been. If you hadn’t brought in that tool, most executives will get on board with that.

Yeah. I really liked that one. I actually liked that you broke these down. It’s sort of three different categories way to think about. How to build the case of an ROI kind of case for these. Um, so I just want to make sure I recap it. So the first one is, um, I think you said first costs or, or current costs to do something versus a feature costs.

If you implement something new. Right. Is that the first one? Yep. Okay. So there’s sort of potential sort of cost reduction there, um, or you can, it can do more for the same amount of money, something like that. The opportunity cost one. If I understand it is, uh, is really like, this is if we spend our money on something else we’re going to miss out on this other thing that, you know, would probably be more of a potentially more beneficial or keep us on par with others, kind of that model is that, um, my paraphrasing it, right?

Yeah. That’s one way to look at it. Another way is sort of looking at your funnel metrics, for example, and saying, if I change. X will I get a higher conversion rate of MQL or will I end up with more closed one sales or more meetings? That’s just one example. You can use this model for other things too.

And other kinds of inputs that’s, you know, for the marketing ops pro that’s generally how you’re going to want to look at it. Now, if you, if you’re missing those numbers, you’re going to have to do your best to estimate it right. Yeah. So for all those economists who are listening to our show, this is not, you think of is opportunity cost.

I just want to make sure, well, it is in some sense, right? Cause if you don’t buy, if you don’t buy the, uh, the calendar tool for. Someone says, well, I don’t see an ROI. I’m not approving this. You’re going to say, well, we’re probably going to annoy our customers and what’s the cost of doing that, right? And the cost is not get 10 more meetings a month and that’s going to reduce our funnel metrics by, I don’t know, 10%, 20%.

We’re going to miss out on $550,000 in revenue, just as an example. And everyone knows that those are going to be estimates, but as long as they’re based on. Reality. They could say, okay, well, if it really only costs $10,000, then I don’t want to be the one who misses out on $50,000 in revenue. Yeah, no, I I’m.

I like that. So this is really good. I’m glad I asked the clarification. And then the last one, I think of, if I, if I’ve understood it correctly, uh, your scale over time to me, because I’ve, I’ve had to do this in other contexts. Um, I think it may be presented, sometimes says cost reduction, but really what it is is sort of cost of land or bending a cost curve over time.

Right. So you want to be able to do the same or more. Without scaling the costs associated with say a revenue line that you want to go scaling up, but you want the support cost line to not go at the same sort of same slope if you will. Right. So that you’re capturing more out of that by, by making the investment.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay. These are the three ways you can deliver value in general. Um, but you know, if you’re gonna bring in a vendor or even even pitching a new process, right. You can show that any of these things, people will be more likely to push, help you push it forward. Yeah, I love it. So one of the things, um, all of those models to me sort of presupposes is, and this is people listening and people who know me well, now that we’re probably going on this, which is, this requires sort of a basic understanding of finance and probably a basic understanding.

Statistics and modeling too, right? To be able to build these models that are ones where you could go in front of an executive or a financial leader or something like that to pitch this idea. So personally, like I think that is a really important skill, especially over time for marketing ops folks to have is the ability to do that and understand how those models.

I’d be curious what you based, especially based on those sort of three ROI models you just outlined. Yeah. How important do you think that skill is? And when, yeah, for those folks who are relatively new in marketing ops, when do you think they should be thinking about and learning this skill? Um, as they’re kind of progressing in their career anytime, um, you know, so start today, start with.

Yeah. And you know, for a long time I’ve been a proponent of combined marketing skills with finance skills. Um, I, I know of people who have done that and they are doing very well in their careers and being able to model out things. Even if you don’t have all of the data is a very powerful tool and you can definitely accelerate your career and make more money because, you know, math is a key skill that not everybody has or enjoys.

Um, even having an understanding of how those models of work can help you, because you can ask good questions and you can ask a question. So a vendor who’s offering you a model. You can ask a question. So if a finance team is trying to help you and come to them and say, Hey, I’m looking for this kind of model.

Can you help me build it? Like I don’t, I don’t think I could build a lot of models, but I know what I’m looking for and kind of how it works so I can provide requirements that make sense to other people. Now, does that mean you need an MBA or PhD in statistics or anything like that? No, not at all. Um, certainly if you’re, you’re getting your MBA or even a BA in business, you know, make sure you’re spending some time in finance.

Most courses, most of those degrees will give you basics of accounting and basic financial models to do basic three to five-year projections. At least in my experience, that’s roughly what you need to be conversant and to build the kind of models I just talked about, um, and create a basic cost calculator as you’re thinking through how to deal with the vendor, because a lot of vendors don’t provide.

Uh, a cost calculator for you. I have seen a couple of do that and I’ve asked, you know, sales, if you ask a salesperson, they can sometimes do it for you. Um, and they should be able to explain their own pricing model. Um, but I’ll, I’ll create my own based on what they’re feeding me and try to map it out against our own internal needs and be able to play with the numbers so they don’t see what I’m negotiating on.

Um, and, uh, you know, you can’t do that and you can’t use Excel. You’re going to limit yourself to. Both, whether it’s in marketing offs or it’s in marketing, um, knowing how to show growth, growth factors, scale that up is very important. And at least in my experience, I haven’t seen anyone say, you need to have a giant econometric model or, you know, really cool financial model, at least in many cases, but so you need to have those basic skills, but you don’t need to be a finance whiz necessary.

But if you are and want to be, you should, and you can have a very interesting career doing that.

Yeah, I, I think I agree with every bit of what you said, and I would add that the other benefit of having that is it’s a totally transferable skill, no matter where you are. So I, you know, a couple of examples of that for anyone who’s listening is, um, If you’re in finance today, for some reason, and you’re looking at you like marketing, like storytelling or you’re into the technology of finance, you could flip those skills over in a marketing technology and operations.

You could be the advisor to the CMO. I seen a lot of roles right recently about chief of staff. Um, VP of, I don’t want to say marketing ops because. Exactly what those are, but marketing analytics, marketing strategy, and all of those involve financial models and bringing those together with, um, leads math with the funnel metrics with the SAS kind of estimations and people are looking for that.

I agree. I think they are looking for all of that. And I will say that my, um, Just kind of echoing and reinforcing what you shared about, you know, the business school education that you’ll, you’ll often pick up, um, around finance and, and, you know, uh, accounting and those kinds of things definitely has proved valuable to me through my career in marketing ops and being marketing technology.

Um, and, and my particular college, I, you know, forgive my naivety, perhaps other colleges as well do this, but our particular college. Offered, um, business statistics, which I’ll be honest. I did not, uh, pass the second, uh, course of that. Uh, the first time around I had to retake it, uh, cause it’s, it’s quite difficult, but it did teach me a lot about regression analysis and statistics overall and, um, and how to apply some of those, just that line of thinking to, um, understanding, you know, growth, curves and adoption and all of those.

You know, core conversations you would have with a go-to-market team or even your executive team. Right. As they think about. How do you make a decision on when it’s time to invest or divesting in particular tools or, or initiatives inside of an organization? So all of that is tremendously helpful and transferable between absolutely organizations.

You know, even if you don’t love that sort of thing. Being conversant in it is very helpful because then, you know, what kind of people to hire or seek out to support you. So if you happen to be in an MBA program or the program, or, or maybe if you miss business, the cystics, um, you can pick up stuff on the internet pretty quickly.

A lot of this stuff is very accessible now and, you know, on YouTube or the internet in some way, and you can just type in like sample size. I need for an Navy. There are calculators. People have already done. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. You just kind of have to know what you’re looking to do and you can achieve that.

Um, so, and in getting a basic accounting understanding is not, well, it might be hard, but it’s not super hard. No, no. One’s asking you to take more than a semester’s worth, or be able to do an income statement fully for, you know, a public company. Um, but having that kind of understanding of why that works, you can understand why someone might be asking a question on the executive level.

Like, what are their cost drivers? Why are they asking that kind of question? How are they looking to lower? The, the ratio of, you know, cost for acquisition to lifetime value? Not every company is into that, but if you know what that means and you know how to potentially count. People will say, Hey, that person knew what he’s doing.

Um, maybe we should hire them or maybe we should have them do that model. Yeah. And I, I just, uh, you know, um, add on to this. For those that are interested in like the deeper technology side of things being conversant is the thing that we’re talking about here, right around finance and business statistics.

Um, but the same is true for developers, right? Like if you, if you go dabble a little bit, take a. Take a 30 day, uh, Ruby on rails course and, and tinker, and try to learn what it, what a MVC is and how your, uh, engineers might be thinking about deploying different features inside of, uh, whatever tech stack they’re building against whatever their background, um, uh, development languages.

And as soon as you’re conversant in that. Um, I think it opens up opportunities for us as, as professionals in this marketing technology, marketing operations space to, uh, Having an educated conversation around, Hey, I think I really want to try to do this with this technology. Um, do you think it’s reasonable that this could be done in two weeks and, and maybe before you would’ve come to that same question and said, Hey, can we do this?

Like, you know, this week or tomorrow, and you know, some of these engineers. Well, what are you talking about? Hey, right, right. That’s not possible V you know, the timeframe on that is ludicrous. Uh, and so just being conversant, I think is, is, is the core takeaway for me on both of these things and thinking about other teams you interface.

I agree on that a hundred percent, you know, I think when, um, The things that I attribute to my success. Um, even another fields that I’ve worked in has been my ability to talk with developer and sort of the technology people, because I spent time dabbling in programming and was interested in databases for different kinds of projects and kind of learned enough about how it works to ask questions and to ask that question that you’re saying, well, do you think it’s reasonable to do this?

Or if someone pushes back and we’re like, okay, well you’re saying this because of. Is that right? And, you know, knowing that the developer is going to ask some of these questions and knowing how to speak with them and, you know, talking a little bit of shop, right. So they understand like, Hey, maybe this guy actually knows a little bit of what I’m facing.

So I’m going to be a little more likely to speak friendly and, uh, except the project, because they’re going to work with me and not just tell me to get it done in three days. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it’s funny cause the irony of all, this is like we in marketing operations are constantly inundated with requests that are, you know, if only you knew, uh, what you were asking for.

And so here we are preaching to the choir, right? Like we all wish that people would come to us with requests and have just a little bit of an insight into what they’re asking about. And so take that, you know, take that same feeling, that desire to have someone come to you with a request and know what they’re asking for and, and play that back on yourself and think about who do you interact with and how do you improve on your conversations with other people?

Because yeah, that conversation will be a lot more friendly when you know, that developer knows that you, uh, you have some semblance of the idea of like what they’re working on. Yeah. Yeah. When you, when you go to the developer and he just rolls his eyes at you, that’s usually not against. I had, yeah, I, uh, I used to ask things of, of this wonderful, uh, development team that I worked with.

And. One of the employees there is Paulette and ask her, I’d ask her questions. She would just say, yeah, no, like, let me, I don’t really have the time to explain this to you. Uh, but like, well, we will sit down and talk about this. And I learned, I learned, I need to do, to build, hold on the point, right? Yeah.

Marketing ops and marketing technology. We, we face the same challenge from our stakeholders from sales and marketing. They. Depending on their level of skill, they need something done. They need an outcome. And I view it as my job, my team’s job to facilitate that conversation, to take in and interpret those requirements.

And whether it’s, I-Team doing it or more technical developer doing it and bring that to them and be the go between there. So. They don’t have to have that kind of argument. And instead of saying no, like my team or the developer can say, okay, let’s sit down and try to understand what we’re trying to do and how it should work.

And then we can tell you a level of effort, the feasibility look at a phased approach. Maybe it didn’t MVP would be good enough for them. And you know, it’s always better to work with, you know, a stakeholder who understands that process. And it’s like, well, actually, you know, here’s what I’m looking to do, but I’d be willing to take this.

And the next month. And in three months, I need this. And you know, that’s part of the job is working that out again. I think that’s totally that that is something everyone is kind of early in their journey and marketing apps should know that the part of what you need to be as consultated with your stakeholders and guide what can be done, what’s possible.

All right. So getting back to vendor management, uh, a little bit judge. So one of the things I think I know I, and probably everywhere I’ve been, I’ve had a challenge with it at some point is just keeping track of all the different vendors I’ve got and then trying to be disciplined about how often, and when am I evaluating them?

When am I considering adding the moving, changing out, uh, changing. Uh, level of say subscription or licensing, something like that. H how are you, like, how do you do, I guess two parts, right? When, how are you tracking your vendors and to, you know, what’s your process sort of for auditing and reviewing that on some sort of regular basis.

If you haven’t heard off. Well for tracking the vendors, I hate to admit it, but mostly sheets. Um, I don’t think there’s a perfect way to do it. I think I’ve tried many different ways and ends up being most. You’re probably in the 90th percentile. Well, it’s easy to lose track and you have sometimes, especially as a new person in a company, you have to go hunt things down, whether it’s in a.

And DocuSign system, or if it’s other people’s sheets and unify all that information and make sure that you have stakeholders, make sure you have the technical owner, what’s their phone number? Who do I call if something breaks, what process is it supporting? Um, the more visibility into that, you know, even renewal dates is very helpful.

And what I try to do for myself is I have a folder on my computer for each vendor. With contractors. And I try to gather as much information as I have, because there’s always going to be a history, whether it’s a history of a company been working with for awhile, or you just joined a company is gather as much as possible.

Um, contracts get lost. Pricing gets lost. You need to make sure you’re keeping track of that. Um, so if I create a folder on a vendor, that means I’m relatively serious about at least investigating that vendor. If I don’t already work with them, That’s also a shame, you know, putting some structure around it so that I could share that with other people.

If someone asked me if someone did this morning, where’s the MSA for this? Oh, well, you know, maybe I have that. Let me see. And I actually did have it cause I had organized it ahead of time. Um, I think that’s a minimum for organization. Um, you know, if you’re a larger firm maybe purchasing and contract management tools exists, that help you manage that.

Um, but generally I think it’s on you as the technical owner to make sure you have your own organization around that. Now in terms of auditing, um, you know, I did a presentation with Kelly, Jo Horton a couple of years ago on, on auditing and managing the MarTech stack. And we’re going to reprise that kind of give an update in a couple of weeks, but, um, it’s really about a set of principles.

You should probably do it at least once a week. You should make sure you’re asking good questions. Is this the right vendor for us still? Is it going to help us scale over the next couple of years? Do we have the right services with them today or in the future? Should we be talking with them about that?

If you’re looking to cancel that or a process is going to end, probably need to think about that right after you renew. If not, if you can, because it may take you a whole year to migrate away from that vendor and to get a new vendor in. So you’ve got to build in that overlap time. You’re always going to be challenged with new tools, requirements from marketing, from sales, from business.

Um, vendor is calling around and trying to get you or other people to talk with them and do demos and push you to do things. Try to stay ahead of that as much as you can bring solutions to other people, if you think it’s going to help, um, You know, someone posted, posted on LinkedIn yesterday about this, you know, if you have a roadmap that can be a better conversation tool than letting vendors run all over your company, because it will happen.

Um, you may not always manage it as well as you want to, but it will happen. Um, and the key criteria can really vary widely. So it’s really been asking the right question. Costs back end scale service and support. Are you still getting ROI out of this? Are they still delivering for you? Um, maybe you want to go into the marketplace every couple of years to see what new competitors are out there.

Or if maybe you’ve got too much overlap. And this is really a vigilance thing, because tools are creative. Some people grow on the company and. You will have a lot harder time if you’re not managing it more actively by saying, Hey, I hear you. You’re interested in this tool. We already got a tool that does that.

Or what are you really trying to do before we do this? We implement this tool and. Most people will ask, answer that question and say, well, okay, well, how would you solve that? Because right now it sounds like you’re not. And you can say, well, let’s talk about that. And maybe there isn’t, maybe the answer is there, right?

And you do need that tool and you can pick out something different. Um, that’s generally how you want to approach it, but you have to be vigilant in managing it constantly. Yeah, one thing out of that, I feel very validated, but I do the same thing with, with every vendor. I have a folder on, on my computer and keep track of that.

So, yep. Me too. I definitely use a bunch of spreadsheets and folders to manage all this stuff. I D I, I turned on our it department to blissfully back in the day, um, which was, you know, we were early stage startup. Everybody was buying their own tools left and right. And I know that he has really enjoyed the ability to kind of manage those vendors, um, across the board from like the it side of the house.

But I will say that. You know, we’ve, we’ve got great partners with MarTech guru and cabinet, em, that help enable some of that kind of vendor management stuff. Um, you know, and I think to each their own, right, depending on your needs, right. Those can also be super, super useful, but gosh, it’s hard to replace those, those spreadsheets sometimes though.

It’s so hard. Yeah. I mean, there are frameworks for areas of the business that it departments will use to manage this. And I forget the tools involved, but that could be an interesting framework to help look at your stack, evaluate it. Look for gaps. The CRO relapsed. It can be kind of additional layer of work though.

Um, but it can be insightful as well. So, you know, having been part of it for a while now, you know, I like a lot of the things I’m learning and the rigor we’re putting behind managing our tech stack that. You may not be able to do it as an SMB or a startup early on, because that’s just not how they operate.

But if you’re in a much larger company, you need to be friends with it and you really do need to take an it approach. And that’s where I spent some time earlier in my career and applied that over the years about being assistant administrator, being. Having processes around how to manage it, which you can kind of see in the works and the blog posts I’ve had.

But, um, I don’t see everyone doing that and there are reasons. But if you can start to put it in that process, as things gone down, you’ll be a lot happier over time. Yeah, totally agreed. But Josh, I think we’ve kind of run through our time here. Uh, I have a feeling we could have continued the conversation quite a bit longer, so thanks again for your time and your insights today.

Um, I know. People will probably want to get in touch with you. What’s the place to place to do that. Now you also mentioned a couple of different things you’re presenting. If you want to share those as well. Um, yep. I’m going to be mocks con in a couple of weeks doing an update of our MarTech vendor management, where you can dive into some of the ideas.

I talked a little bit about today and hear from Kelly Jo, about her take on the MarTech stack.

Awesome. That’s exciting. Yeah, that sounds great. Um, thanks again to Mike, my co-host and, uh, hopefully we’ll have Naomi back again. Next time. Thank you to all our listeners for being a part of this journey, as always share your feedback, suggestions rate, uh, and review us on your different platforms until next time.

Bye bye. Thanks everybody.