How I Learned To Stop Worrying (and Hire a Great Marketo Consulting Agency)

Level 10 - Champion Alumni
Level 10 - Champion Alumni

The new year is a great time to think about adding capacity to your team, and it’s often easier to get budget to hire a consultancy than to hire in-house. Bringing in outside help is a great way to add capacity to your team, tackle complex projects, and get access to a team of experts. However, hiring consultants is no different than hiring employees—you need to find a partner that fits your team’s needs. And just like managing employees takes time, managing consultants also takes time. Here are my top 10 tips for hiring Marketo pros.


1. How long has the company been working in Marketo?

You want to hire a team with extensive experience in not just marketing operations but Marketo specifically. If they’ve only recently expanded into supporting Marketo, they’re not going to have the internal resources to support you on complex projects or tricky issues.


2. Who will be assigned to your account?

At a minimum, your consultant should be a Adobe Certified Expert - Marketo Engage Business Professional (Marketo Certified Expert) several times over. If they’ve been at this for a while,  they may have been certified as an Adobe Certified Master - Marketo Engage Architect (Marketo Certified Solutions Architect). You can look your consultant up on LinkedIn, they will likely list their certifications and a link to the official credential. Bonus points if they are a current or former Marketo Champion.


3. How many team members do they have that are Marketo pros?

One of the biggest advantages to using a consulting agency is that you have access to not just your assigned consultant but also their colleagues. If your assigned expert is the only Marketo pro at their company, you’re at a disadvantage because they don't have internal resources to lean on when they run into something new or tricky. In additional to your assigned consultant, they likely will also have other resources you can use, such as developers to build custom web solutions, help with webhooks, code email templates and landing pages, and more.


4. Do they build everything from scratch or import templates?

An experienced consultancy brings their own best practices to your marketing organization and your Marketo instance, including their road-tested Program Templates and common operational Programs. They can import their customizable Programs in your instance and tweak them for your needs, saving a ton of time (and billable hours) and reducing errors.


5. How do they structure the SOW, and do you understand it?

There’s no right or wrong way to put together a Statement of Work, but you want to make sure it works for your company’s needs—and that is has the information that your Finance team needs to approve it. Make sure to drill down into the details to understand exactly what’s included in the project so there are no surprises down the road. If they prefer to do a retainer-based SOW, it should outline priority projects with projected timelines.  If you are purchasing a bucket of hours, make sure that you can use any leftover hours on other projects, and find out if/when they expire. They should also be sending you weekly or fortnightly updates on how you’re progressing through projects and billable hours.

6. Can they pivot when needs change?

Even the most well-structured SOWs will fall by the wayside when your company’s needs shift. You want to work on projects that are going to move the needle. Ask about their flexibility to shift priorities as business needs change. I’ve seen this kind of flexibility structured in several ways. Some companies will have very structured project-based SOWs but also a bucket of flex hours that can be added to those projects or used for ad-hoc requests. Some operate on a monthly retainer model and can quickly change gears as needed. Others will sell you a bucket of hours but only bill them as they're used. I personally prefer the latter, but it can be harder to get approved by Finance.


7. How do they communicate and how responsive are they?

You need to make sure that their communication style works for you. Find out how easy it is for them to schedule meetings—if you have to wait several days to get on their calendar for an urgent issue, your progress will be slowed. Bonus points if they use Calendly or another self-service scheduling app, which reduces the dreaded email chain.

If your company relies heavily on Slack, consider getting approval to add your consultant as a Guest in your Workspace or use Slack Connect so you can have quick chats instead of long email threads.


8. Can they meet your security requirements?

The last thing you want is to go through the vetting process and pick a great partner only to get roadblocked by your own internal team. Work with your Information Security and Legal teams to find out what their process is for vetting third-parties and what their requirements are (background checks, encrypted computers, etc.), and make sure the partner can meet those requirements.


9. Do they have references for clients that are similar to your team?

Ask to talk to happy clients—and here’s the key—whose organizations are similar to yours. If they’re much larger or smaller or have different needs, you may not get a good feel for how the consultancy will work for your organization.


10. What is the escalation policy and out clause?

Hopefully, if you follow steps 1-9, you’ll pick a partner that’s a great fit for your business. But you should always prepare for the worst so that you can right the ship if things go astray. What’s their internal policy for escalating issues? And will they put an out clause in the contract in case you decide that they’re not a good fit for your organization?

Whether you’re looking for a team to handle your Marketo implementation, need help on specific projects, or just need some extra highly-skilled hands, hopefully these tips will give you a framework for finding a great partner for your team.

Do you have plans to add consultants to your team in the new year? Any tips or pitfalls you want to share? Comment below!