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5 Interview Questions to Ask Your Next Marketing Automation Hire

March 31, 2016 | Andrea Lechner-Becker | 2 Comments |

When LeadMD first joined the marketing automation consulting scene, there were NO best practices. Now, there are still very few people who know the best way to build for scale.

Even professional services within the platforms being purchased often set up systems in a very short-sighted, and understandably siloed, methodology.

So, let’s just imagine you’re a Marketing Director and you’ve procured a marketing automation platform. Let’s say it’s Marketo. It’s implemented and your Marketing Manager knows everything there is to know about getting what your business needs from Marketo.

But, here comes the bad news! This wonderful Marketing Manager just gave her resignation. She’s leaving to make more money with her newfound Marketo expert skill set. Great for her; sucks to be you.

How do you hire for a position that you aren’t exactly sure what she did all day?  

You don’t use Marketo. You only know (generally) what it does. What are the skill sets you should look for? How can you sniff out a Marketo poser vs. a real expert? Trust me, it’s not as easy as having a Marketo Expert certification.

I’m not sure it’ll make you feel better, but this has happened to a LOT of other people. We’ve worked with many of them, helping to fill the gap while a replacement is found. And, I have personally hired for this job for four years by hiring consultants.

So, I can at least help out by giving you a few questions to ask and the kinds of answers you should hear.

1. Tell me about how you track lifecycle stages using Marketo and SFDC.

Bad Answers will be vague. Or include excuses about how the business they’re coming from doesn’t have a “traditional sales process” or leadership “didn’t get it.” The lifecycle is absolutely key to getting value out of marketing automation and CRM working together—to not implement it means the person didn’t get the practical education your business needs.

Good Answers will include the creation of the Marketo lead lifecycle program or the ability to use simple points, like lead conversion and opportunity creation to develop lifecycle numbers.

Great Answers will include SPECIFICS. If you’re using Marketo, it should consist of a program, with statuses that align to stages in the funnel. In SFDC, you want a report and the person should specify the object that report runs off of. Any great Marketo expert should understand that Marketo’s value is ultimately about pipeline creation and influence. Without the SFDC reporting, you’re only able to tell half the story and the visibility of marketing influence across the organization is, frankly, stifled.

2. Tell me about the optimization of your lead scoring model.

Bad Answers, like the lifecycle question, will be vague or put the blame on the business leaders for not understanding the value.

Good Answers will highlight the creation of the scoring campaigns and use of scoring tokens.

Great Answers will include systematic sales feedback. If your candidate only looked at Marketo to see scoring distribution, it’s again only half the story. Without sales feedback, scoring cannot truly be adopted. You want your marketing automation expert to understand the importance of cooperation throughout the organization to invoke change.

3. Tell me about your nurture strategy.

Bad Answers involve things like only two or three emails being sent after an event.

Good Answers will talk about segmentation and, likely, how a lack of content led to not much progress. They should also include the words “Engagement Program” for Marketo users.

Great Answers will include a deep cataloguing of current content and the mapping it against personas and stage in the funnel. Bonus points for identifying content gaps and filling them with smart content pieces, likely repurposed from existing assets. In fact, if you hear this and don’t hire the person, send them to our open positions to apply – because this is one of my favorite skill sets!

4. Tell me about the mechanisms you employed to keep your data clean.

Bad Answers would be, “Nothing” or “I don’t own the data.” Someone who runs a marketing automation platform must know the data inside and out, which is the only path to ownership.

Good Answers will include simple data maintenance programs in marketing automation to facilitate things like blacklisting competitors, populating “Job Role” off “Job Title” data and other simple marketing automation workflows.

Great Answers will include the terms “Data Governance” and “Documentation.” This sort of documentation will include who owns data at every step of the way, specify where data originates, what adjustments to the data happen and who owns each step of the data manipulation process. It would also have explicit rules around duplicates and the management of them.

5. Tell me about the amount of pipeline marketing influences monthly. How did you get that figure?

Bad Answers will contain some variation of, “We don’t measure that.”

Good answers will include actual numbers and an understanding of the methodology behind those numbers. Good answers will include sourcing data. Marketing generated a lead from a webinar and that lead eventually became an opportunity. Sad as it may be, a good answer demonstrates that the marketer understands that their role is to increase revenue to justify marketing spend and frankly, their seat.

Great answers will incorporate sourced information, but also influenced revenue. It would entail a sentence such as, “In 2015, marketing sourced $500,000 in opportunities and $2.4 million on top of that.” A great answer would also, not intuitively, talk about how there is really no great way to accomplish this reporting. The next gen marketing campaign reporting tools, like Bizible and LeanData, are aiming to provide advanced weighting options for influence.

In closing

While everyone of course wants to hire and retain top marketing talent, it’s not as common to consider how to keep those skills sharp.

Remember, that while hiring the right people is critical to your company’s growth, encouraging them to continue their education through the various types of marketing training that are available is how you keep the game-changers empowered to change the game. If they’re really a top-notch marketer, they’ll probably want to always be learning anyway.


You didn’t think we were going to just give you five, right? Here are more questions to consider. Happy hiring!

  • Tell me about a time when you took on the leadership role, end-to-end with a Marketo project.
  • Which Launchpoint apps have you integrated?
  • What did you design and scale within Marketo?
  • Do you have experience with Revenue Cycle Explorer?
  • Do you have experience with workspaces and to what capacity if yes?
  • Rate your skill set from 1 to 5 on the following. Adobe CC, HTML, CSS, etc.
  • Can you give an example of an issue that came up with Marketo and how you solved it?


  1. Avatar sweener24 on March 31, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Nice post ALB. My best answer would be: “We partnered with the experts at LeadMD to meet our marketing, sales, and automation needs and the assisted us with navigating the path through Marketo. They were crucial to the successful rollout within my organization and helped to build our internal experts.” Keep rockin’ on!

  2. Avatar Lana Brown on December 12, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Great blog post Andrea! This specific set of questions would definitely help a company select a a seasoned Marketing Automation Specialist.

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