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Preparing for a Free Consultation With an Inbound Marketing Agency

By John McTigueNov 17, 2014

how-to-choose-the-best-inbound-marketing-agency

I know what you're thinking. Free Consultation is just a polite way of saying "sales call." A few years ago I would have agreed, but nowadays these calls have evolved. In fact, many of our customers refer to the first call as an "interview," as in "I'm interviewing a few inbound marketing agencies to find the best fit for our needs." Now we're talking!

What we try to do is take this interview and turn it into a conversation. We also want to know if you are a good fit for our agency. So how can you get the most value out of your first conversation with us? 

I'll let you in on a little secret. We don't want to close every lead we get. Yes, we're happy to get them, but some leads are just not a good fit in terms of several important factors, including:

  • Goals
  • Plans
  • Challenges
  • Timeline
  • Budget
  • Authority
  • Consequences
  • Implications

When HubSpot's Pete Caputa introduced this framework last year as a replacement for the old BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) sales criteria, the light went on for many of us. The new GPCTBA/C&I criteria give us a better way to evaluate you (our customer) as a good fit for our services. This is what we want to find out in the first call. As you'll see shortly, answering questions around these criteria will also help you in your interview process with agencies. Let's take them one at a time.

Goals

What does success look like for you this quarter, this year and in the next five years? What are your specific revenue targets and how do you envision getting there with sales and marketing? We (both your company and our agency) need to know this so we can put together a marketing plan for achieving your goals. We will take your goals and work backward to start setting benchmarks and targets for inbound marketing metrics. This will, in turn, help us to derive the necessary budgets and resources.

Plans

What plans do you already have in place for reaching your goals? Are you expanding your product lines, hiring staff or entering new markets? Do you have plans for scaling up sales and marketing to meet your objectives, or are you searching for a partner to put that together for you? What have you done in the past, and how well did it work?

Challenges

What's standing in your way right now? Competition? Senior Management buy-in? What are your top five barriers to achieving your goals as we stand today? What hurdles will you face in building a more effective sales and marketing team and proving ROI? Have you worked with an agency before? How well did that go?

Timing

How hot is the fire burning right now? Do you need to show results yesterday or do you have a reasonable timeframe to work with? Do you have any idea how long it takes to build an effective online presence and start the journey toward reaching your goals? Much will depend on how you answer these questions.

Budget

Do you already have a budget allocated for marketing? Are you already spending a good portion of your budget on things like trade shows and printed marketing collateral? Have you thought about how much it will cost to build a marketing team and marketing technology infrastructure? How does that cost compare to outsourcing to an inbound marketing agency? Do you have a good idea of how much it currently costs to acquire a new customer (CAC) and what your average customer lifetime value is? These numbers will be critical in estimating budget needs and evaluating results.

Authority

Are you making the decision or will you need to sell your program up the chain of command? Do you need help with that from your agency? What does the buyer journey look like for you? How will you and those above you make the decision and when?

Consequences

Have you thought about how much it will cost your company if you don't do inbound marketing? Will your competitors gain an advantage or will you miss important opportunities? What are the consequences of inaction or delay? You will need to know this data in order to justify your budget.

Implications

If you do pull the trigger on inbound marketing and/or hiring an inbound marketing agency, what do you stand to gain? In addition to reaching your goals, what other benefits are you likely to accrue? For example, inbound marketing may deliver a recurring revenue stream from customer engagement that you weren't expecting at the outset.

Back to the Conversation

You can expect each agency you speak with to ask you these kinds of questions. We all pretty much drink from the same well when it comes to how to sell our services. What motivates us is having the right information to make the right decision for our own agency. Are you a great potential customer for us or should we refer you to another agency we think is better qualified for your needs?

On the flip side, you want to know which agency is the right fit for you. By answering the above questions internally and being prepared with your answers during the first call, you can get right to the point and see if the agency can help you reach your goals. You can also prepare better questions for the agency based on your self-assessment and status.

We all want the same thing—happy customers. And yes, we want a long-term relationship that's rewarding for both of us. Let's start by talking about GPCTBA/C&I

                    hire Kuno Creative as your inbound marketing agency                

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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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