After being in a digital marketing-specific sales role for the past 7 years, I have truly been asked just about every question you can imagine when it comes to vetting an agency during the sales process. Some questions are fair, some questions are borderline crazy, and some questions seem to come up more frequently than others. Although I always have an answer to every question and am more than happy to field them all, I get excited when the same consistent line of questions come up in my conversations. When this trend happens, I can tell that the prospect has done their homework and the sales process will be seamless for both parties. When the sales process follows a similar pattern with these 5 questions listed below, it leads to a clear understanding of expectations on both sides and the beginnings of a mutually successful partnership. Which leads to a faster sales cycle and happier clients!
1) Does your agency work with similar companies as mine, both in industry and in overall size?
There is no need to waste each other’s time, so let’s get right to the point! Although it can appear to be abrupt and dismissive at times, there first needs to be a clear understanding that the digital marketing agency you are speaking with works with similar companies as yours, and they will be an ideal fit as a partner. Some agencies specialize in specific industries, some agencies work with enterprise sized clients, some agencies work with SMB clients, and the list goes on. The first step needs to be a crystal-clear understanding that both parties on the phone are having a conversation that will lead to a potentially positive result at the conclusion. A lot of this can be learned from viewing their agency website and published information, but that will not always tell the full story. Time is a very valuable commodity (especially salespeople’s time, haha!) and people need to be conscious of this fact before taking additional steps, so get it out there in the open. I am sure the salesperson will ask some questions to “vet” you as a qualified prospect, so turn the tables on them and “vet” them as a qualified agency as well!
2) What services does your agency specialize in and what percentage of your business does it represent?
The jack of all trades, but master of none. How many actual services do they list on their website? If we are getting into the double digits, be weary. Some agencies will tell you they can do it all…. Branding, sure! Web Design, you know it! Search Engine Marketing, you betcha! Market Research, absolutely! Custom software development, yeah let’s go baby! But the simple reality is that if you are not speaking to one of the major agency players, for the most part that is just simply not going to be true. Press a bit to get an understanding of the services that they specialize in, other services that they offer, and then simply services just listed on their website to make them appeal to the masses.
3) Would you be willing to audit my existing digital marketing performance and provide specific recommendations on how your agency would approach our strategy better to achieve our goals?
All agencies are really GREAT at talking about themselves, go ahead and ask them! They will talk at length about all the services their agency offers, the clients, the awards, the case studies, and the beat goes on… But what does that mean to your company and does it solve your problem? Sure, it is helpful to get some general knowledge on their background and what they do as an agency, but do not get fooled by the smoke and mirrors! All agencies excel at that stuff, cool presentations, amazing graphics, fancy buzzwords…. I mean that is what they do and talented salespeople can be super persuasive! But make them back up all that fast talk, ask for the data to support it. If the agency is truly interested in earning your business, they should be more than willing to provide a free comprehensive audit/analysis of your existing performance and tactical recommendations on their agency’s strategy to improve results. And make sure these conversations revolve around your specific goals (traffic, leads, ROI, ROAS, ACOS, CPA, etc.), what will make this partnership with the agency successful? It is not enough just to be comforted that they can perform the services in question, ask them to showcase what their plan is to implement their strategies for your company to reach the set goals for digital marketing!
4) How does your account management model work and can I meet the team that I will be working with daily?
Whenever I get asked this question by a prospect, I always have the exact same response. “Yes absolutely, our client services team at Logical is the best and they are the true experts in what we do!” I would have to say, this is the one question that gets missed the most but is so critical to ensuring a successful relationship. Again, salespeople are good at selling, that is what they do for a living. They will tell you exactly what you want to hear to seal the deal and earn that commission. Also, salespeople commonly will have enough general knowledge to be dangerous at explaining the services being offered and in a way that might be just enough to gain your trust. But once those contracts are signed, the salesperson is off to selling the next prospect and out of your lives. It is really a simple question to ask, “can you explain how your account management model works and would I be able to meet the team I would be working with?” First off, you want to get a handle on the team’s skill level to assure that they can perform the actual work. And once that fact is determined, how do the personalities and culture match? That aspect can be so important too, these are people that you will be speaking with very consistently and handling an extremely vital part of your company’s success, be sure that you will have an enjoyable experience working with them and it doesn’t end up being a team of people that you cringe every time you see a scheduled meeting with your agency on the calendar!
5) Would you be willing to provide customer references that I can speak with?
The grand finale. This one is super simple. Ok, so you like what we have heard so far, both sides seem to be a good fit for each other, they specialize in the services you need, the audits look great, the account team is awesome, but let’s make sure of one thing first before we sign on the dotted line. Do their clients have positive things to say about the agency, are they ultimately happy with their experience working with this agency, and are they getting good results? Get an outsider’s perspective! It is the ultimate way to validate that this agency is providing good work and a valued partner. Now clearly, they are only going to introduce clients that have positive things to say… But throw a few curveball questions to their clients, ask about some challenges that have arisen, what would be one piece of criticism you have to share, could they do anything differently that would be appreciated. I have found most of our clients are very honest in these conversations and we expect them to be. So get that final stamp of approval before making the decision to ultimately move forward.
So, there you have it. Other questions will obviously come up in your conversations and are also critically important based on your company’s specific needs, but make sure to check these five boxes before deciding to move forward on working with a digital marketing agency. And if you want to ask our sales team any of these questions or others, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – happy vetting!