Outsourcing is actually a business practice that allows companies to flex their capabilities and explore new opportunities without pulling resources away from core business.
A recent YouGov survey revealed that as many as seventy % of B2B decision-makers outsource essential activities to external service providers. Popular reasons for outsourcing include accessing qualified and relevant staff; and driving better results.
Outsourcing may not make sense for every organization; the business case for outsourcing varies by company. Nevertheless, you will find some common advantages.
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A chance to access skills and expertise which might be limited or perhaps lacking in-house
Increased flexibility to meet unpredictable or perhaps evolving business requirements
The choice to test and benchmark new approaches with no major investment
The ability to leverage up-to-date knowledge and innovation
An opportunity to decrease ongoing investment in internal resources
Obviously, there are a range of risks associated with outsourcing, such as limited domain knowledge, cultural barriers and language, and lack of control. Fortunately, these issues could be resolved whether you choose the right outsourcing partner.
In the following paragraphs, we explore key points for consideration when selecting an outsource partner in the field of B2B marketing.
Before beginning your search for the perfect outsourcing partner, you must know just what you are searching for. Factors that are Key to consider are your project’s value, timeframe, and scope. When you are outsourcing a sizeable, ongoing piece of work with the hope of finding a long-term partner you can trust, the selection process must reflect that. Do not rush. Be thorough, particularly if you are likely to sign a contract with a brand new partner of yours. On the other hand, if you are outsourcing a smaller project (a short-term graphic design campaign, for example), you can scale down the selection process accordingly.
Develop a matrix of criteria that you seek from the marketing service provider, weigh these by importance, and define a scoring methodology. This can allow your team to rate each potential agency on a like-for-like basis – and talk to an objective, clearly documented decision.
When planning a long-term or high-value project, you might wish to establish a multi-disciplinary task force to drive the selection process. By doing this, all needs across your business or department will be understood and accounted for from the outset.
Allow me to share ten issues to consider when you weigh up potential outsourcing partners:
Type of agency
One of the first questions is whether you want an integrated agency that provides services across channels or perhaps a specialist agency. The answer here depends on whether you want a partner that offers broad marketing capabilities or perhaps one that brings expertise and knowledge in-depth in a specific B2B marketing field.
When you find one agency that will deal with several campaign components, there is an advantage in getting a single point of contact and a single account manager handling all of the complexity on the side. Nevertheless, there is also a threat that you might not benefit from market-leading expertise in every aspect of your campaign. You do not want an agency to be a jack of all the trades and master of none.
The benefit of working for numerous agencies is you can partner with several best-of-breed providers who’re proven specialists in their fields. This way, a multi-agency approach provides you with access to several viewpoints and insights that work together to make a strong, market-leading campaign.
When you vet potential outsource partners, evaluate whether these organizations have attitudes and approaches that are actually arranged with your organization’s core culture. Ideally, you would like to bring in a partner who understands and respects the essential issues of your company. If you share the same values, it will be easier to work with this agency on a day-to-day basis and ultimately build a strong strategic partnership.
Agility and size
Is the agency big enough to handle the requirement of yours, yet small enough to look at the needs of yours as a priority? Preferably, you want to work with a partner organization that values the business yours and gives you personalized service while offering you a comprehensive solution that may be quickly scaled up to support changing business needs.
Besides offering an agile resource, your agency needs to flex in its approach. Evaluate whether the agency you are considering is actually willing and consultative to tailor a solution to meet your complex and unique needs, or perhaps whether they will shoehorn you into their processes?
A flexible attitude isn’t only something you will need at the outset, but also a valuable quality over the extended. An agile agency is actually one that’s continuously open to your feedback – and able to incorporate this in a timely fashion.
An obvious – and critical – criterion is actually expertise. You have to be certain that the agency you select has the skills, experience, and knowledge you are searching for. Ask for proof. This may are available in the form of testimonials and recommendations, or perhaps the accreditations and standards they hold. You can also look into their track record theirs and search for independent reviews. You should, for instance, explore Google Business Reviews and/or Glassdoor.com to see what their staff are actually saying regarding them.
If you work in a regulated industry, you would like a partner who has relevant experience and can guarantee compliance with your internal policies and regulatory obligations.
Another point to look out for is actually churned on previous clients and staff. In case they do not have a solid track record of keeping customers and employees happy, they are more likely to fall short of the expectations yours too.
What pricing models do your potential outsource partners offer? Are they fair, and will they translate into a healthy ROI?
When it comes to demand generation, outsourcing contracts are usually billed on a pay-per-hour or pay-per-lead basis – and this might seem to be hard to choose between the 2.
If perhaps you’re a small business with a small budget and you’re trying a channel for the first time, you may need predictability and feel much more secure knowing just what you will pay for each result. In this instance, pay-per-lead may feel like the risk-free and affordable most model. Nevertheless, it is essential to understand that this strategy can sometimes carry costs hidden further down the funnel. For instance, it often encourages a focus on quick wins and leads volume at the expense of long-term value and lead quality. There is also a risk the agency will burn through valuable data to get as many quick successes as possible, rather than spending time on (potentially higher value) prospects who require much more nurturing before they are sales-ready.
On the other hand, the pay-per-hour model fairly compensates the agency for the time it takes to build connections with prospects and gain insights that support a high-quality demand generation and lead qualification process. Because of this, the more experienced agencies tend to offer this pricing model.
How will value be measured?
Beyond the pricing model, you also have to ask how your potential outsourcing partners will add value to your business and augment the resources you already have in place. Will they have the ability to work synergistically with other functions – such as sales – for instance? And what other services and skills can they bring to the table? It is usually better to ask the agencies you have shortlisted to put together an ROI model for you. And ask how they are going to measure and report on performance.
There is always a chance that, once the settling-in period has passed and the project is well underway, the outcomes won’t meet your expectations. Certain agencies are actually ready to build a bit of flexibility into the contracts to guard against the client feeling’ locked in.’ A far more flexible agency may, for instance, give the client the option of a reasonable notice period that kicks in after the first month or perhaps so. By doing this, you will not get tied to an outsource partner that’s taking your money without delivering some value.
What happens after the contract is actually signed?
Ask each agency about its onboarding process. You would like to understand that you’ll be welcomed into the partnership with a well-structured onboarding program. Also, confirm in advance who’ll be assigned to your account and just how much time you can expect them to dedicate to your company. Occasionally, more senior folks pitch and then disappear.
Transparency is actually at the center of any successful outsourcing relationship. This calls for open and clear communication between the business of yours as well as the agency. Explore their communication policy. Are they open door (or floor)? Ideally, you would like to work with individuals who are not hard to reach and welcome your input.
You can also ask about their reporting approach. For instance, several agencies have an online client portal to monitor campaign performance in real-time easily. They might also be ready to share details on customer interactions, such as call recordings (in voice contact campaigns) and other campaign analytics.
Remove the guesswork
Minimize risk and feel confident you choose the very best provider of a certain set of marketing services by benchmarking several agencies alongside each other. Conversely, if you have an existing agency, you can run a Champion Challenger scenario, where you pitch your existing agency against a new agency (or several different agencies) and compare the outcomes. This particular approach allows you to analyze results and objectively determine the best team for the job.