You're so close to finalizing a deal with a new client. You've guided them down your sales funnel with your top notch advanced content and lead nurturing. You've even had a number of phone conversations with them. But what do you really know about them? On the flip side of this, if you're a company looking for an agency to help you with inbound, how do you know you're asking potential suitors the right questions?A relationship between an inbound marketing agency and company takes a lot of time, hard work, and dedication. To start the relationship off on the right foot, it's important to take the time to really get to know each other first. Here are some questions we usually ask our potential clients as we start to build a relationship with them:
1. Size and Structure
How many full-time employees? Is everyone in one office? Where is the marketing department located? How is the marketing department run - is there a digital/traditional marketing split? Is there a group that focuses only on conferences? Besides identifying your inbound point of contact, figure out key stakeholders within the organization. Maybe you have the Director of Marketing on board, but you might need to help them sell to or educate the rest of the company about inbound marketing.
Sometimes it's hard to isolate revenue numbers, but it's important that you do. You are trying to increase sales with your marketing efforts and you have to be able to prove your efforts are working. You can start with questions like average sales per month or online sales per month and then back into a number. If sales are about 100K a month, that's a $1.2 million revenue company. Then you can break that down into units per month or units per salesperson. You need to understand where sales are coming from today if you want to increase them with your marketing efforts.
3. Current Marketing
What marketing efforts are ongoing? Any radio, TV or PPC ads? Maybe the main marketing effort is one huge conference event every summer. And the follow up question is ROI. "Well we get hundreds of leads from our annual conference!" We hear that now and again. But what happens to those leads? Are they typical swag-seeking conference attendees or are they folks with real business problems? And is there a closed-loop marketing effort in place to nurture those leads?
This is one that is important but often overlooked. Any important initiative should have a sponsor within an organization. The higher up the sponsor in the organization the better. We are working with a client now whose CEO is strongly behind our inbound marketing efforts and approach. If you constantly have to help the CMO or Director of Marketing sell to the CEO, that's a lot of time on your part that could be better spent in strategy and implementation. And it can get stressful.
5. Previous Agency Relationships
Many times, prospective clients are seeking a new vendor or are ending a relationship with an agency that wasn't what they expected. That's OK. It's important to understand what the client feels may have worked or not worked in their previous relationship so that you can avoid those type of roadblocks in the future.
This is far from an all encompassing list but it is a list of relevant questions that should enter the discussion. Whether you're an agency or a prospective client of an agency, be sure to keep these questions in mind.
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