Outsourcing a project is like making a prudent investment. When you work with an external service provider, it's not just about the cost of the project; it's a careful investment in the growth of your business.
Choosing the right service provider can make a real difference to your business goals. Just like having a look at a few houses before making your final choice, you will want to do the same with service providers.
But we understand that it may seem time-consuming and maybe even unnecessary if you are pleased with the first service provider you have met with. However, here are 6 key benefits you can get from meeting with and comparing a few other providers before making your final decision and a few questions you can ask during these meetings to make a good comparison between them.
💰 “Make sure I’m not overpaying”
When you're looking for an external partner to work on a project that will directly impact your business, it can be a bit nerve-wracking. Whether the financial commitment is large or small, you're still handing over money from your company's pocket to an outsider. So naturally you want to make sure you're not overpaying for the services you need.
You may already have a service provider in mind that you're keen to work with, or you may have been impressed by the first one you met with - it can happen.
But the reason we have chosen to provide you with a list of 4 service providers that fit our general needs, is that we want to give you the opportunity to fully understand pricing structures and visualise a pricing benchmark for the type of project you're looking to undertake.
Maybe the service provider you have in mind will carry out the project within your budget, but what about if the next service provider you meet with could do the same work but at half the price because they have better resources?
Working with an external provider involves costs that are not only linked to the raw cost of the project itself but also agency fees, which can vary enormously. Our directory consists of service providers who are typically small or medium-sized teams, but you will find that you can have varying levels of budget-friendly pricing depending on experience, resources, sometimes location, and even the type of project.
Questions to ask in a meeting:
What does the breakdown of costs look like?
What kind of unexpected costs or changes in price may arise during the evolution of the project?
What are your fixed and variable costs?
🤯 “Getting more for the same budget”
The budget you set for your project is effectively the money you're prepared to spend on the services outlined in your project brief. Sometimes you'll get lucky and find that you get more than you bargained for without breaking the bank.
Let's say your project is to launch a new video campaign. One service provider tells you they can do it within your budget - great, you've got a solid option. But then you meet another provider who's a full-service agency. They offer a bonus digital advertising strategy with every video production project. It's something you hadn't even thought of, but it still fits within your budget. Now you've got a new package to consider without having to adjust your budget.
Sortlist’s list of providers is a mix of those who can meet your needs while offering their own unique approaches. They may be specialists in your industry, or they may bring fresh, out-of-the-box ideas that could shake things up for your business. It's all about finding what works best for you, seeing how far your budget can take you and maybe discovering some new tricks to boost your business.
Remember that you can also mix and match! You don’t have to settle with a half ok service provider. Maybe one service provider has a better offer for one element of your brief and another has a better offer for something else. It is common for agencies to collaborate with each other for a mutual client.
And lastly, some providers may suggest some ideas that may not fit in with your immediate plans. But hey, keeping those ideas in your back pocket for future projects could be a smart move.
Questions to ask in a meeting:
Are there any additional services you can offer within the limits of my budget?
What other services do you feel could benefit my company objectives?
🎯 “Finding the best way to achieve my desired goals”
You have your brief, your expectations, and your goals. Whether it is to boost revenue, expand your product, or mitigate risk, you may have an idea of how to achieve these results, but no two minds and no two service providers will carry out the project the same way. Ideally, you'll want to find one that's best placed to ensure that the project is completed as successfully and as smoothly as possible.
All roads may lead to Rome, but some are much tougher to travel than others.
Meeting with different service providers gives you a range of project approaches from which to choose. If you have an idea for a project but aren't sure exactly what services you need, different providers can offer different strategies.
For example, if your goal is to increase website traffic, one provider might suggest an SEA strategy, while another might suggest an SEO approach that is more in line with your budget.
The same applies if you have an idea of how you want the project to be carried out. The service provider may not have the resources to deliver the project exactly as you would like, but they may be able to give you ideas on how to improve it.
The meetings with the service providers are set up so that they can present you with a thorough pitch outlining their vision and strategies for your project, and you can discuss and iron out the details of a potential collaboration.
If you opt to just meet with one service provider, you may miss out on the depth and commitment of the next provider's pitch, as they may put more thought and effort into aligning with your goals and ultimately exceeding your expectations.
Questions to ask in a meeting:
Have you considered any other methods of achieving the desired outcome?
Have you done a similar project before and if so, which method did you use?
Do you have any recommendations on the objectives of the project?
🧪 “Finding a business partner I have chemistry with”
Choosing a service provider is about more than their skills; it's like finding the right piece of a jigsaw puzzle. The first provider may look perfect, but do they really fit into the bigger picture of your project and working style? It's important to make a strong connection because even the most promising piece won't complete the puzzle if it doesn't fit.
Projects, especially long-term ones, require a partner who is not just right for the moment, but right for the whole journey. Can you see this partnership lasting throughout the project and possibly even beyond? That's the kind of compatibility that ensures seamless collaboration and successful outcomes.
The perfect match might not be the service provider who can execute the project best, but the next one who may take longer to complete the objective, but that fits perfectly with your company dynamic.
So when comparing service providers, consider how well they fit into your unique jigsaw puzzle.
Questions to ask in a meeting:
What is the overall dynamic of your agency?
How often do you have touchpoints with your clients?
What is your preferred mode of communication?
What would a long-term collaboration look like? What other services do you provide and do you offer discount packages or multi-project collaborations?
🧠 “Using new knowledge to my advantage”
By exploring different providers, you can open yourself up to negotiation. Prices aren't often set in stone, and you can negotiate certain aspects of a package. But here's the thing: If you're new to the game and don't have much experience working with suppliers, it can feel like a maze. You may wonder which parts of their pitch are negotiable and which aren't.
But even if you have experience with working with external providers, you may not be familiar with the kinds of prices or services associated with the new project you would like some help on.
This is where comparing multiple providers becomes your superpower - it helps you get a feel for what's on the table and where you can use your negotiating skills to your advantage.
⏳ “My time is valuable. I don’t want it to go to waste”
When it comes to finding the right service provider, time and money are big factors. You may feel that you have been searching for the right partner for longer than it would take to actually get the project done. It's like Netflix... how many hours have you spent looking for what to watch compared to the hours you've actually watched something? Sortlist tries to help you avoid all that searching and provides you with a tailored list that will save you time in the long run.
The few providers we present to you have already passed your initial test. The meetings you have with them afterward are just to help you make your final choice. Within 2/3 days you will be able to start working with the provider of your choice without having to spend countless hours sifting through options and potentially wasting money on a short-lived and failed partnership.
In Netflix terms, we offer you four movie trailers to watch, and you simply pick the one that convinced you the most, rather than spending hours scrolling, reading reviews (and maybe stumbling across spoilers), or switching to a new movie after 20 minutes because you don't like your first choice.