“We’re looking to partner with an agency for our Digital Marketing.”
“We are looking for a full service digital agency.”
“We need SEO/PPC/insert any other digital channel support.”
These are just some of the enquiries we receive at Semetrical on a regular basis, and it’s likely to be the same for many other agencies. Whilst new business enquiries are always welcome, we need a bit more information than that to work with. And there is still an awful lot to find out in order to determine whether or not there is an agency-client fit.
Qualifying new enquiries is my day-to-day job and whilst I ask many of the same questions to each prospect, I treat every enquiry as a unique opportunity. There is a lot to consider and it’s not all about what budget the prospect has to spend!
There are a number of sales considerations when it comes to qualifying new leads. For us, it’s not just about finding new business but making sure we are a good fit for one another. When going through the qualification process, I am working out whether Semetrical as an agency is best placed to support this particular business and its needs, just as much as I am looking for opportunities for our agency.
The generic enquiry, “we’re looking for a new agency” always leads me to one question:
There’s always a reason, a certain issue or ambition that has kick-started the prospect’s search. Whether they have an incumbent agency or if they operate an internal marketing team to cover all digital channels, would lead me to ask different questions.
However, “why” is always my starting point with the more generic enquiry. This helps me understand the underlying value we need to bring to the table, above being experts in SEO, Analytics, Content etc.
Always looking to uncover what the prospect is really looking for from an agency, other than (usually) the extra resource to cover each digital channel is critical. This is where I need to ask a few more questions.
Depending on the outcome of each of the above questions, it could lead down a different solution suggestion. But trying to understand which solutions are most appropriate for this particular client, at this particular moment in their growth journey, is much easier with more background information.
The Semetrical team is made up of some of the most talented professionals in the industry, so we are confident we will be able to improve our clients’ performance. But knowing exactly the right level of support needed and what mix of services will help achieve the prospects objectives is always the goal when qualifying.
Drilling into these questions with prospects a little more, regardless of if they are already working with an agency or operating marketing in-house, it’s important to bring clarity to exactly what they are looking to achieve.
Finding out that the prospect has just been appointed with a new CEO who has imparted the in-house marketing team with some lofty targets would make the generic enquiry from the (often!) overworked Digital Marketing Manager make much more sense.
We’re fortunate enough to work with many really talented in-house marketers, but they have responsibility across all marketing channels – online and off. That’s a lot to cover and very difficult to do so in any depth. But what these Marketing Managers are great at is knowing their brand, and usually knowing where opportunities lie. Yet, they just cannot get their head above the parapet to strategise, let alone have the resources to implement their ideas.
So prying a little further, we can start forming a picture of exactly how SEO will be looked at internally, what importance it holds internally up and down the chain of stakeholders. Using these insights, we can start shaping the size of the prize in order to show value.
At Semetrical, we are detail-oriented in all aspects of our work. As such, forecasting is something we are particularly fond of, and we use this to show prospects what can be expected from implementation of good SEO work.
But there’s always an element of education required in the sales process. Forecasts are great, but are simply indications of what could happen. Our ability to actually achieve the forecasted numbers is highly dependent on our prospect having the resource to implement our recommendations and being able to do so frequently (we’ve had recommendations backed up by over 6 months before!). Most importantly, we need buy-in from the whole business and they need to understand that these recommendations are designed to help them achieve their objectives.
On occasion, we’ve actually joined our clients internal meetings, whereby marketing, sales and developers are all in the room, usually fighting for their campaigns or projects to take priority. If we as an agency cannot get across the benefits of implementing our recommendations in our regular catch ups, then having a presence client-side is something we have found highly effective.
Many times, our main point of contact is responsible for reporting up the chain to senior management. Copying and pasting sections of our documents into theirs and in doing so, losing the impact and/or context of what we are recommending and why.
This happens most when we are working with smaller marketing teams who are under constant pressure from their seniors to make targets, but their bosses don’t have much time either, so need all reports in “one-pagers”!
Thanks to the extensive knowledge of all the Semetrical team, we are great at educating our clients. We achieve this in a number of ways. The reports and recommendation documents mentioned previously are just one means, but we always strive to ensure our communication methods align with client preferences, to be as effective as possible.
For instance, regular client visits in-house have allowed for our teams to create bespoke training sessions for small marketing teams or the wider business. These sessions allow us to change internal perceptions of marketing, communicate the value of marketing and make sure everyone is on the same page.
However, being in-house regularly also allows us to understand the business in more detail and be more agile with our approach. For example, it gives us the opportunity to pick up insights that could give us inspiration for changing strategy or new projects that can boost performance.
How we support our clients is so important when mapping out the right level of support and what channel mix is most appropriate, which is why so many questions are asked during the discovery stage to ensure we are best placed to support those prospects.