Choosing to outsource all or even some of your demand generation involves lots of research that likely ranks lower on your to-do list than organizing your inbox and (insert tedious manual process you despise). But, according to Gleanster Research, as many as 34% of average-performing B2B companies feel like their current marketing processes won’t be able to scale to meet their challenges over the next one to three years.
When you start with a wishlist of demand gen agency qualifications, the way to your marketing heart is a match that checks every box. If all goes well, it will turn into a long-lasting relationship, so you’ll want to invest time and effort early on to set the stage for a lasting (and successful) partnership.
Sound impossible? It’s not. We’ve got seven tips to help you navigate the journey and help you feel confident about putting your demand generation needs in someone else’s hands.
1. Know your needs
Before embarking on a quest to find the perfect demand generation partner, define your needs internally. Each person on your team has a different role, thus, different priorities. Get together to discover a list of requirements that includes the center of your team’s Venn diagram, as well as the deal-breakers for your key stakeholders.
- Be sure to include the obvious, such as goals, targeted growth, expansions into new markets, etc.
- Also, include things like the channels where your buyers hang out and what type of content and other methods of outreach work best.
- Define and describe your target audience: Revenue size, geographic region, employee count, industry, etc.
2. Make a list, check it twice
First, do your research. Once you’ve compiled a hefty list of possible demand generation agencies, narrow it down to 3-5 relevant partners. Consider the following before settling on your shortlist:
- In what industries do they have experience? Have they had success with organizations in your industry?
- What is their overall reputation in the marketplace?
- Check out their case studies, white papers, blogs, and any other material that may be available to you.
3. Vet the process
To be successful, a demand generation partner must work to gain an intimate understanding of your business model, company values, and culture. Without this information, it’s impossible to create innovative campaigns, set growth objectives, determine KPIs, and generally not just tell you what they think you want to hear. Reliable processes and communication are essential. Transparency is a crucial element of any partnership, and this one is no different. Ask questions like:
- How do they communicate with clients (sharing reports, updates, what worked, or didn’t)?
- How are deadlines managed?
- What does the onboarding plan consist of?
- How do they stay up-to-date on the latest advances in technology?
- What tools do they use, and will these tools integrate with yours?
You want to learn as much as possible about how they will work to familiarize themselves with your organization. If a potential partner doesn’t have a discovery process or attempts to gloss over it, that’s a clear indicator to move on.
When we speak with prospective clients we ask questions like:
- What does your demand generation process look like in its entirety?
- Do you follow an ABM approach?
- What area of the funnel do you feel like you struggle with?
- What does your ideal partnership look like?
Also, ask them about their audit process.
- Do they analyze the existing marketing mix to understand strengths, opportunities, and past successes?
- How do they determine methodologies for a demand generation campaign?
- How will success be measured?
Note that an agency focused on your success will ask a thousand questions to understand your requirements. Ideally, they should have experience with companies like yours and the wider industry and know what works best and what to avoid.
4. Learn about their team
Once you onboard a demand generation agency, their team should become your team. You’ll have to work very closely with this team, so it’s essential to know how they will serve your needs. Seek a team you can collaborate with as if they are your own.
- What criteria go into selecting the account team?
- How deep is their ‘bench’ of people with relevant experience?
- How is knowledge transferred throughout their organization?
- What will your daily or weekly involvement with the team look like?
Ideally, you should seek a structure where you have access to a single contact who can be held accountable for all levels of the engagement. This contact should also function as a gatekeeper of sorts who can provide access to subject matter experts when required.
5. What services are available?
Our first tip helped you define your needs. Now you need to find out if your demand generation provider offers the necessary services to meet them all. Are they an end-to-end provider, or do they have a primary area of expertise? Some demand generation agencies may claim to provide end-to-end services, but only possess knowledge in a few areas. Before you decide, make sure they have proven success in the specific services you’re seeking.
- Does their methodology encompass all the pieces necessary for a comprehensive approach? (Check out this article for more)
- Is the team skilled at working with marketing technology?
- Will the team develop a content strategy and run a content audit?
- Will they coordinate with your other partners?
6. Ask around
Ask for references. Former clients are honest about their experience. If you cannot talk to previous clients, try to connect with their current clients. 65% of businesses will likely continue with the same outsourcing partner, so now is your chance to get to know why people have chosen the same provider you’re researching. Here are a few other elements to consider:
- Ask for their track record.
- Have they worked with any known brands?
- Have they been featured in reputable press outlets?
7. Build the case to outsource
You’re likely not the only one involved in making the decision to outsource. Odds are you’ll need to gain executive buy-in, so be prepared to set clear expectations with stakeholders to build the foundation for success.
Before presenting to your team, prepare by answering the following questions:
- What do success metrics look like for your organization? Consider topics such as the number of deliverables, average sale price, MQL-to-close ratios, sales pipeline value, revenue generated, and calling and productivity metrics.
- How will outsourcing improve the timeframe for potential sales to hit your pipeline and begin to fill your funnel?
- What kind of data will you need to run a campaign for inbound and outbound marketing, and what will it cost?
- Will outsourcing help you scale and accommodate an increase in call volume to support new marketing initiatives or geographies?
- What will the cost look like from all angles? Consider things like staffing, management, training, benefits and incentives, overhead, software and enablement tools, data costs, analytics, and reporting.
- What resources are necessary from your end to make the outsourcing successful?
- How will you measure if the relationship makes sense from an investment perspective?
The right demand generation partner will help you access higher levels of expertise, unlock new opportunities, generate innovative ideas, and learn new marketing tactics – all while being a trusted partner by your side on the journey to your goals.