Selecting the Demand Generation Agency that is Right for You: What to Ask and How They Should Answer

Evaluating Demand Generation Agency Partners

While in the process of selecting a Demand Generation agency, many companies struggle with identifying the criteria with which to evaluate potential partners.  Organizations need to think through the key Demand Generation components they need to include in the selection process so they can be assured of making the right choice when selecting an agency partner.

What You Need to Know
There are a host of agencies, individual contractors and organizations that provide “marketing services” that range from content development, website design, inbound marketing, marketing automation implementation services and Demand Generation consulting.  It is important to know that each of them have their unique approach and specialty, and that not all consultancies are the same.

In order to narrow the list of prospective partner agencies which you will evaluate, it is advised to have a clear understanding of the overall goals and objectives of your demand generation programs.  For instance, are you looking to select, implement and utilize a marketing automation solution, or is your goal to generate new leads for the sales team and better engage with customers through their buying process?  Having these goals and objectives documented will help you better align to the agencies that best align with your goals.

Who Should Be Involved
It is tempting to have marketing put together the criteria and select potential partners without feedback from other departments or personnel.  However, given that Demand Generation involves the Sales and Technology teams, and that it relies on a solid foundation of good data about both customers and prospects it is advised to expand the buying committee to get all relevant groups providing input into the process.  To truly drive change and improvement, all of these departments will have a part to play and should be included in the decision process:

  • Sales
  • Procurement
  • IT
  • Marketing Operations
  • Sales Operations
  • Web

Having multiple groups provide input will ensure your selection criteria accounts  for the multiple departments that will interact with the agency and provide a more comprehensive approach ensuring the best suited vendor is ultimately selected.

Decision Components
A Demand Generation Agency partnership needs to highlight both the higher-level, strategic goals of the program as well as dig into the tactical elements that will help to execute against the strategy. Having an understanding and knowledge of these components will enable companies to have the information necessary to make a more informed decision.

Are you looking to select, implement and utilize a marketing automation solution, or is your goal to generate new leads for the sales team and better engage with customers through their buying process? Having these goals and objectives documented will help you better align to the agencies that best align with your goals.

The information that needs to be collected is as follows:

  • A Statement of Program Objectives
    • Ask the agency how they will help you to meet those objectives
  • Challenges
    • What challenges has the agency partner identified that will need to be overcome in order to meet the goals and objectives?
  • Opportunities
    • What opportunities does the agency partner see that can be accomplished by working with them if they are selected?
  • An Overview of the Agency
    • How many years in business?
    • What do they consider to be their core strengths or specialties?
    • Do they focus on a specific vertical or area of the market? (SMB vs. Enterprise)
    • Are they B2B, B2C or both?
    • How many customers do they have at any given time?
    • How many employees do they have that are focused on client service?
    • Have they or their clients won any awards for their work?
    • What makes them unique against their competition?
    • What is their experience with companies like yours?
  • Details on Their Approach
    • Do they have a defined methodology and process by which they deliver their service?
      • If yes, do they “cookie-cutter” this approach or do they customize based on your organizations needs?
    • What is the structure of the team that will be assigned to your account? How many people will be on your account team? Who is the highest-ranking agency employee that will have responsibilities on the project?
    • Is there consistency of this team throughout the duration of the engagement?
    • What level of service will the agency partner deliver?
    • Do they have an understanding of your customer life cycle?
    • How do they drive a partnership with their clients?
    • What is the structure of their strategy versus their execution/technology teams and how do they work within a client?
    • What is their ability to project manage an engagement?
    • Will there be a presentation of timelines on the engagement, including the development of a strategy and implementation?
  • Terms and Conditions
    • What are the costs for the engagement? Is it project-based or hourly?
      • It is important to understand that some agency partners will request a more detailed scoping call in order to accurately supply this information.
    • What are their standard terms?
    • What is their billing schedule?
    • Are they a flat fee vendor, hourly or time + materials?
    • How do they handle travel costs?
    • How do they handle overages on timeline, items that fall outside of scope, etc.

To truly drive change and improvement, all of these departments will have a part to play and should be included in the decision process:- Sales- Procurement- IT- Marketing Operations- Sales Operations- Web


Decision Process
Organizations need to follow a selection process that allows them to make the best choice to fit their business.  The following approach is recommended, and could be helpful in selecting the right agency partner.

  • Identify a handful of potential partners that provide the services that you need. Many publications and software companies have agency guides that can help with this selection process.
  • Invite agencies of interest to begin a dialogue to assess fit, and ask essential questions early to narrow your selection pool down to the partners that seem best equipped to meet your strategic goals.

It is recommended that no more than 2-3 vendors be the final vendors on your short list, but don’t be surprised if the particulars of your situation narrow the list down to only one vendor. Once that list has been complied the agency partners should be brought in for in-person presentations with the buying committee.  In order to get the most from these meetings, be prepared to spend 2-3 hours with each vendor.  Use this time to understand the following:

  • How well does the agency partner understand your business, your customers and marketing and content best practices?
  • What is their relational style? Is this a relationship that will enhance the overall marketing maturity of your organization, or simply an agency partner that will come in and execute against tasks without interacting or helping your team to grow?
  • What examples do they have that can demonstrate what you will receive from working with the agency partner?
  • During the meeting are they offering additional information to you as a buying committee, or are they simply speaking to the information asked. In other words, are they trying to be helpful and informative in addition to providing the information requested?

A Demand Generation Agency partnership needs to highlight both the higher-level, strategic goals of the program as well as dig into the tactical elements that will help to execute against the strategy. Having an understanding and knowledge of these components will enable companies to have the information necessary to make a more informed decision.

Additional Information
In addition to the information detailed above, you should round out the selection process with the following steps:

  • Request 2-3 references that you can speak to
  • Get biographies of their staff to get a better understanding of their depth of expertise
  • Discuss timelines for beginning an engagement
  • Obtain an understanding of what their services do not include
  • Discuss the depth of their own partner and vendor relationships, including but not limited to:
    • Creative agencies and designers
    • IT vendors
    • Data vendors
    • Marketing Technology Solution Providers

Don’t just run your Demand Generation. Transform it.

Selecting the right vendor to help your organization transform your Demand Generation and drive more value from your programs is not an easy task. Being able to collect the information detailed in this guide from prospective agency partners and vendors will enable you to make an informed decision and will help you to transform your Demand Generation. Let’s Connect.

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