By Annette Fernandes-Poyser, BBN & Suzan Spermon, BBN Netherlands | 4 min read
Is your agency delivering real value to your organisation?
For a client to ensure that their agency can consistently deliver value to their business, marketing executives need to be honest and transparent about what they expect from the outset. Based on these expectations and needs, a decision can be made as to whether the agency’s current model can help them achieve their marketing objectives or not. If not, then the client needs to consider its options, which could include searching for agencies who offer a new model approach with higher levels of flexibility and collaboration.
There has been a significant shift in the number of partnerships, acquisitions and collaborations taking place in the B2B marketing agency business. Smaller, more niche agencies are recognising the need to be part of a larger group or organisation to meet the diverse and expanding demands from their clients. We’ve noticed that our partners’ collaborations are increasingly less about the location and more about leveraging expertise and skills from within the BBN partner group to meet increasing client demands.
Many agencies are heavily investing in tech-driven talent to offer their clients the tech support they need, therefore fostering longer-lasting partnerships. While these agencies provide a well-rounded martech proposition, they tend to be software agnostic, ensuring that their clients get a tailored solution to meet their needs.
As marketing becomes more innovative, targeted and technology-driven, it is inevitable the skills needed to execute these activities will need to come from more than one agency; This will, therefore, demand greater collaboration or projects and campaigns could become fragmented and inconsistent. Many clients have said they have a desire to work with a lead agency that can work with other specialists and optimise relationships with them. Very much like our partners already do under the BBN ‘Rules of Engagement’ model.
Another changing trend in the B2B agency community is the blurring of boundaries between PR and marcomms agencies. These new hybrid forms of agency are very successful at offering clients the best of both worlds, and BBN is living proof of this.
Ensuring sales and marketing integration is ultimately good for the customer
Historically, marketing has been solely responsible for brand, and sales for the customer.
Nothing can kill a deal as fast as what feels to the customer like a bad handoff. As such, the relationship marketing has with sales is the most important one in B2B business.
Marketers today know this. Transformative marketers live and breathe this. They attend sales meetings with customers. They share office (and coffee shop) space as often as possible. They treat sales as their primary customer. One particular agency has created a marketing outsource model that puts marketing support right inside a business, allowing for even closer sales and marketing interactions.
Real sales and marketing successes are evident when teams collaborate on processes. By jointly scoping the customer journey and identifying metrics that indicate when a customer is ready to move in the conversation, sales can give marketing new insight into the customer. An insight that helps marketers create relevant content that in turn helps sales most effectively follow up on leads.
However, now that customers have placed themselves squarely in the driver’s seat of brand perception and the sales process, marketing and sales need to recalibrate their relationship… with the customer at the centre.
An agency who can support both marketing & sales teams within a business can help produce collaborative content projects that map to a specific sales metric perhaps in a previously untapped but customer relevant channel.
An agency who understands the importance and sensitivities between sales and marketing will help demonstrate the return on marketing investment and successful collaborations through lead generation that can be traced back to the content, but also use content tools and analytics that can help facilitate each stage of the sales conversation.
Telemarketing – an extended agency offering to support sales further
Once an agency has created the strategy, developed persona’s and buyers’ journeys, designed creative multichannel campaigns and marketing automation and then analysed the data, what happens next?
Sales Teams are often too busy spending time developing their customers and don’t always have the time to uncover new opportunities or follow up new leads. ‘How interested is someone?’, ‘Is there currently a need for the product or service?’, ‘Do they need more information?’, are all questions businesses need to know. Therefore, having an agency who can offer support to turn marketing qualified leads (MQL) into sales qualified leads (SQL) by engaging prospects to explore levels of interest, awareness and position in the buyer journey, leaves more time for your sales team to develop and nurture existing customers.
Telemarketing can be one of the most effective ways to engage customers, prospects and new business opportunities. The best telemarketing agents understand that building the right relationships is key to making connections. Agencies offering this service successfully, hire highly experienced agents from a variety of different industries, who speak multiple languages and can provide call hours across numerous time zones to support global campaigns and can even set appointments.
As part of a group like BBN, partners can use a service matrix model with strict rules of engagement to utilise contact centre services in South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific, thereby creating smoother transitions from marketing to sales for their clients which ultimately benefits their customers.
The fact is there aren’t that many alternative agency models out there to choose from, most likely because the model most agencies follow has worked exceptionally well until now. ‘New Model Agencies’ like those referenced and independent groups like BBN, have recognised the model needs to change alongside the change in clients’ demands and expectations. We are seeing more of our partners pitching and winning against other large traditional-model agencies and multinationals, simply because they meet the broader range of needs and requirements that clients demand today. We believe the ‘New Model Agency’, is the next generation of B2B marketing.