Derek Gerber is the global marketing director at Active PDF, the leading global provider of automated, server-side PDF tools. Derek...
If you’ve ever thought about hiring a B2B consulting firm, here are some amazing questions that you should ask before you ever sign a contract.
[ Note: Learn or retain more by reading? We got you. Here is the video above in blog format. You’re welcome. ]
Here at Directive Consulting, I would say about 70% of our portfolio was with an old agency and is now trying to hire a new agency.
Sometimes they choose us, sometimes they don’t.
But whenever we go into this process, there’s always some type of baggage — good or bad — from a previous experience. It’s kind of like dating. You bring everything you’ve learned from prior relationships into new relationships.
And the reality is, before you get married — to an agency — you should really ask some pertinent questions to learn about how they’re going to interact with your business and your account.
To keep it simple, I’ve got 4 questions that you need to ask before you ever hire a B2B consulting firm for marketing, sales, or any type of service.
How Often Will We Meet?
The first question is: “How often will we meet?”
I think meeting weekly is best. You might think bi-weekly — and that’s fine — but you need to know and get confirmation about how often you’re going to be able to meet.
Follow up Question:
Now, I would also ask: “Could it be on video?”
I think there’s a lot that you can learn about a person, what their intentions are, and what they’re trying to do through video. Video — relationally — can go deeper to turn your agency vendor into your agency partner by being able to connect with them better.
And the reality is that if you can only hire agencies that are within your locale, then you’re missing out on some of the best agencies out there.
Video allows you to have interpersonal relationships with agencies anywhere in the world so you can get the best talent on your account.
How Many People Will Be on My Account?
The second question that you need to ask is: “How many people will be on my account?”
Now, everybody does hours differently, so I don’t worry about the hours part. Everybody has their own method, process, and system for managing accounts. What I would really rather know is how many people are going to be on my account.
Then there are some follow-up questions that you should definitely ask.
Follow up Question:
The second question that you want to ask after you ask that is: “Amazing, that’s great. I’m excited to hear that. Now, how many other accounts are those people working on?”
You see, from there, you can start to understand the potential availability you’ll have for your account.
I would argue that if you have an SEO person on your account, they’re going to need around 15 to 20 hours a month. The same with a PPC person. If that’s the case, then you should probably have someone else communicating with you.
In other words, if you’re hiring an agency that has an SEO person who’s also your point of contact, that means a lot of their hours are going to be actually going into managing you!
- Communicating with you
- Helping you
- Answering or referring things that are in or out of scope
- Meeting with you
Those are all hours and time that are taken away from doing the actual work!
So, if you have an SEO or PPC person who’s also your point of contact, there are some pros, right? They might have more knowledge about your account to do the work — but that knowledge could oftentimes be easily shared from an account manager so that the people doing the work have more time to do so.
Do You Have Any Average Performance Metrics Across Your Portfolio?
Now, for our third question, you want to be able to treat your agency like a hedge fund, okay? You want to ask them: “Do you have any average performance metrics across your portfolio?”
In other words, you want to see how the average client performs with them. And — by the way — if they don’t have any average data for you and they’re not able to share back to you how the average client performs over a set period of time, then they probably don’t have that great of an analytics and reporting system.
The point of this question is to understand, “Are they actually measuring performance across their accounts?”
You have to remember: if you’re 1 of 50 accounts — you want to make sure that the agency has visibility into the performance of all 50 accounts.
What if you’re underperforming? You need to know that the agency as a whole — the executive team, the directors, the leads, the VPs — all know and are aware of their underperforming accounts so that ideally they can give you extra time and attention if needed.
Not every account is a success at even the greatest agency in the world. So you need to know that the agency has a system to know when you’re underperforming so that it can be rectified.
Why Do Clients Fail to Succeed When They Hire You?
And now, our final question is, “Why do clients fail to succeed when they hire you?”
You see, because not every client failure is an agency failure. A lot of times in-house teams can be their own worst enemies. Now, that’s not all the time. Trust me, there’s plenty of times where we — or any agency — mess up.
Follow up Question:
But you want to know, as the client who’s hiring this agency: “What do we need to do? What do you see as the biggest obstacle for your in-house teams?”
You want to hear what the agency says so that you’re prepared with the appropriate internal resources, time, and commitment to make sure that you’re not the reason that the relationship fails.
B2B Consulting: Here’s What You Need to Ask Before Hiring an Agency — Takeaways
So in closing, here are the four questions you need to ask:
- How often will we meet?
- How many people are going to be on my account?
- Do you have any average performance metrics?
- Why do clients fail when they hire you, and what can we make sure we have ready prepared and available so that we’re not the reason that this fails?
I think if you ask those four questions, you’re going to get amazing responses — or terrible responses — that are going to allow you to make the right decision.
We understand here at Directive that you put a lot on the line when you vet out and choose an agency. And even if you don’t choose us as your agency, our hope is that you have a successful relationship with them — and hopefully, these questions can make sure that that happens.
As always, subscribe to our channel and feel free to leave a comment below with any other questions that maybe individuals or companies should ask before hiring an agency. Thanks and have a great day!