5 questions to ask an agency during the selection process

Author Dan Lifton 5 min read time

Choosing the right Performance Marketing agency partner can be the difference between making or losing money. But with so many agencies out there, each showing off their shiny awards and case studies, how do you actually determine which agency is the right one for you? And with the traditional pitch process at times being a bit like “trying to judge a book by its cover” during a 1-hour period, it might not give you a true reflection of the agency in front of you. 

So how can you make sure you feel confident in the decision you are making when selecting an agency partner? For us, it is all about asking the right questions – and not being afraid to ask the awkward ones during the pitch process as well.

To help you in selecting the right agency, we’re sharing the top 5 questions you definitely should be asking agencies during the selection process.

1. Will we have direct access to the people doing the work? / Is anyone in the pitch process going to be working on the account?

The big reason to ask these questions is to understand the agency structure e.g do you have to go through an account manager to speak to the practitioner? You also need to understand whether you just have a really good pitch team in front of you that might not translate into the day-to-day or are these also the people that are going to be driving this account forward. 

This will go a long way into building confidence. If the people doing the pitch are not going to be working on the account, make sure you get an introduction to the account team (where possible) to get a feel for their ways of working.

2. How regularly will we be hearing from you?

This is a great question to understand not only the cadence and frequency but also the structure and purpose of the communication. e.g “we do weekly calls to update you on key learnings from the previous week and actions to be taken off the back of these learnings.”

This question will help you understand response times and whether an agency is realistic in setting expectations. You can also see from testimonials whether they reference communications and this will be a good indicator as to whether what you are being told adds up in real life.

People sat around a table in a meeting room conducting a business meeting

3. Where would we sit in your portfolio clients?

What we love about this question is the client immediately understands their position within the agency and helps to set expectations on both sides. Are we the biggest client? Are we the smallest client? For example, If you want to be treated as the top tier client but actually the fee you want to pay and the budget you have is towards the lower end of the client portfolio, this is a great time for the agency to set expectations with you during the selection process. You may then decide this isn’t the right agency for you or vice versa, but honesty and clarity should build your confidence. 

It is a very direct question but it sheds so much light on what the future working relationship might look like. 

4. What is your staff turnover rate? 

Everyone loves continuity. You will want consistency in the account so it is good to understand staff turnover vs the industry average. For example, if average turnover is 24 months, you can be confident you will have a consistent team for well over a year, whereas if this was shorter than 12 months, you may start to question the company culture and whether the agency is the right fit.. 

This question then sparks open conversations as there may be some mitigating factors that resulted in this turnover and changes that might alleviate these concerns.

A bonus question to ask here is really valuable to know is “how do you effectively train your team to keep up with industry standards and be the best that they can be.” Give it a go and see what detail you get back. 

5. Can you give us an example of why a client recently left you and how you learnt from this experience?

This is a question where how the agency answers it as opposed to the exact detail is really important. There are two key outcomes you will get by asking this question. 

The first is how the agency handles communicating difficult news to you, which will give you a good indicator into the future relationship. The second outcome is you will understand how the agency learns, adapts and develops from tough experiences. 

If you’re currently in an agency selection process or are about to start the process, give the questions above a go and you will get a much stronger understanding of the agencies in front of you and how they react to these types of questions.We went into more detail discussing questions to ask an agency on our podcast, which you can listen to here.

Ask Overdrive these questions to understand if we are the right Performance Marketing Agency Partner for you, speak to our team today.


Dan has been working in Paid Media for 5+ years, and has extensive experience in managing strategies and campaigns both in-house and agency side, meaning he knows the best of both worlds.