Got Chemistry? How to Know If an Agency Is “The One”
- Choosing an agency means picking a strategic long-term partner on the basis of limited knowledge and a few structured interactions
- There are several different approaches to structuring and evaluating in-person meetings with agencies
- In these evaluations, organizations must not overlook the importance of personal chemistry, team chemistry and company chemistry
The selection process for any type of services agency can be daunting. Having been on both sides of the table, I understand the complexity (and pain) of the process. I liken it to dating and finding the right chemistry with a special someone. You’re trying to determine if they’re “the one” based on a series of encounters.
Would you choose to marry someone after having a few phone conversations and two dates? That’s essentially what you’re doing when picking an agency – asking them to be a strategic long-term partner to your business based on limited knowledge and a few structured interactions. So, how do you determine which partner is best for you?
Once you’ve moved through the “paperwork” rounds of the agency selection process (initial phone screens, RFP responses and case studies), you’re ready for the in-person presentations and meetings. There are several different approaches to structuring these meetings, such as giving the agency a project plan or asking for sample engagement tactics it would propose.
Organizations can also choose to evaluate these meetings in different ways. Some look for partners with the most domain expertise or select the agency that had the ideas that resonated most with the group. But there is one thing that you must be aware of as part of these evaluations that is often overlooked: chemistry.
What you need to be looking for is the right chemistry on three different levels – personal chemistry, team chemistry and company chemistry.
Personal chemistry is the chemistry between you (as your organization’s main contact with the agency) and the agency’s day-to-day contact. Ask yourself the following:
- Would you hire this person?
- Would you take career advice from them?
- Would you share a cubicle/office with them?
Team chemistry is the chemistry between the agency team and yours. Ask yourself the following:
- Would you be comfortable having the agency team in brainstorm sessions with your team?
- Would you have the team present results to your boss?
- Would you send your team members to the agency for training?
Company chemistry is the chemistry between the agency and your company. Ask yourself the following:
- Would the agency team fit in at a company function?
- Would you feel comfortable with one of the agency’s top executives meeting with your CEO?
In my next three blog posts, I’ll include details on why each type of chemistry is important and provide questions to keep in mind as you evaluate the agencies. In the meantime, if you have any tips for evaluating chemistry with agencies, make sure to leave them below!