How to Build an A-Grade Martech Team
May 19, 2022 — During this Martechify discussion, three of our experts outline best practices for developing martech skills and building competencies in new hires.
In this session, Darren Atkins of Sabre Corporation, Ali Rastiello of Health Catalyst, and Sujoy Chandra of SiriusXM explain common considerations when integrating new and existing employees into an effective martech team. They outline what skills to look for in a prospective employee, as well as how to implement more efficient processes for onboarding and training.
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Although it may seem straightforward enough, building a competent martech team requires coordination and forethought to prepare for inevitable challenges along the way. Arguably, the first hurdle when assembling a martech team is identifying which skills are needed—which is, itself, a complex thought exercise. This then determines whether company decision-makers should focus on developing capabilities of current employees or hiring new talent. Next, team leaders need to know how to turn these old and new skillsets into actionable roles. Finally, companies must properly nurture their teams and ensure their knowledge is current in a rapidly-evolving technological world.
Each of these interdependent steps is challenging enough in isolation, which is why it is crucial to have a detailed plan in place beforehand. Chandra, for example, recommends that hiring managers dedicate 10 hours per role, at the very least. Hiring managers should also have a clear idea of the company’s vision to articulate to prospective employees, as well as a clear scoring method to determine the skills that are most important for employees to implement this vision. Perhaps the most difficult planning aspect of your team-building process will be preparing for the future of marketing technology. Because the nature of marketing as a discipline continues to become more AI-centric, it is important to ensure that your team members have the right attitude toward technology and continuously up-to-date martech training for their role.
Team-Building Considerations and Challenges
When starting to put together a martech team, there are a few initial considerations to keep in mind. Atkins notes that the complexity of your organization—i.e., your business’ size, geography, channels, products, and so on—will determine much of your thinking around martech team-building. Of these factors, size is perhaps the most consequential; Rastiello noted that a main challenge for smaller martech teams is ensuring that every discipline and task is covered. This means that good martech teams will likely be larger than many businesses anticipate, since a too-small team may not be able to handle more specialized tasks. Knowing your team’s skills, as well as those of other related and relevant members of your organization, will help make sure that every task is well-addressed by the appropriate people.
Oftentimes, however, your team may need to consider outsourcing the tasks that your team is unable to cover effectively. Rastiello suggests finding an agency that can work as an extension of your team and is familiar with your specific martech stack. If done right, this can provide an immediate boost to your team’s efficacy and your company’s growth. Nevertheless, this option may not be available to all companies due to limited resources. As an alternative, Atkins explained a situation in which outsourcing at Sabre was minimized by introducing a new training program. Ultimately, deciding whether to train or outsource to meet skill gaps will depend on your business’ specific resources and requirements.
Of course, these holes in a team’s skillset can be quickly patched by hiring the right new team member. Chandra explains that attracting the perfect fit means writing a job description that provides an optimized experience for each candidate. This means that each description should function like a good landing page—providing an informative yet memorable introduction to the company and role. Be sure to outline a list of hard and soft skills necessary for each role, which you can use in both a job description and to assess prospective employees in interviews. Creating a candidate scoring method ahead of time is especially important, in order to ensure an optimal fit and reduce bias.
After finding and beginning to integrate the candidate with the best fit, it is of course important to keep them well-trained and happy. This requires building a strong company culture, which can be somewhat tricky if your employees rarely or never see each other in person, but is very possible with the right processes. All of our experts stressed the importance of transparency and work-life balance, but these are not the only factors relevant to a company’s culture. Investing in the right processes and toolsets ahead of time goes a long way toward promoting an excellent culture, as does cultivating an attitude of lifelong learning. When these factors are taken into account, your teams will cohere and function at a much higher level.
Although putting together a dream martech team can require immense planning and forethought, the results are transformational. To refine your team-building process even further, try asking yourself these questions:
What drives your team?
Knowing how to use martech is only part of the job. The more that martech tools align with what each team member is passionate about, the more effective your team will be. Employees should feel empowered and autonomous enough to use their skills as they see fit, and should be able to clearly see the impact of their good work.
Do your team members understand and share the same vision?
Atkins explains that unity and clarity of purpose is essential for martech teams to cohere. Ensure that your team is aligned on how “success” is measured (and be sure to celebrate successes whenever you can).
How can your martech stack change with your business?
Chandra suggests that when selecting the right tools for your martech team, rather than being distracted by the Next Big Thing, try focusing on the direction your business is heading in six months or six years. Your team can then tailor its preferred martech stack to your business’ needs.
How are your martech processes being documented?
Having your team’s processes recorded in a location that is easy to find can make all the difference, says Rastiello. This will not only improve clarity within your team, but can also help smoothen onboarding immensely. These processes should ideally be repeatable and scalable for the sake of efficiency.
Discussion and Takeaways: Advice from our Experts
Here are some highlights from our experts’ advice:
Atkins: One of the key questions for me is, do you have absolute clarity on what marketing is here to do? The interpretation of this question changes with each organization. Without having this North Star of what it is you are trying to achieve and where your priorities lie, you can get pulled in every kind of direction.
Rastiello: I tell any startup or CEO trying to figure out how to create their marketing team to start with their ops team—they are going to lay your foundations for growth. Everyone else can be outsourced, for the most part.
Chandra: If you want to get the right people on the bus, you need to recruit like a marketer. What that means is, think about applying marketing concepts toward building your dream team.
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Watch the Recording
For more insights and takeaways from the session, watch the full recording here: