Guide: How to select an agency for your B2B SaaS company

Tiller Digital April 8, 2024 13 min read Web
Illustration of magnifying glass and checklist, conveying the idea of searching for and selecting the right agency partner

It’s predicted that the B2B SaaS market will reach $232 billion in 2024 (Powered by Search). With so many brands competing for attention and market share, having a great product isn’t enough. You need to differentiate your brand and make your solution the obvious choice.

To do this effectively and efficiently, many companies choose to partner with an agency that can support branding, website design and optimization, and product experience. But selecting an agency isn’t easy.

Big or small? Generalists or specialists? There are a lot of factors to consider. With revenue on the line, you can’t afford to waste your time with the wrong agency.

Use this guide to refine your agency requirements, develop a shortlist, and select a partner that will help you maximize your ROI and achieve your business goals.


Table of Contents


Define business needs, goals, and budget

Before you go to market to hire an agency for your B2B SaaS company, decide what it is you need them to help you achieve. Every agency will have different skills, capabilities, and areas of focus, but not everyone can deliver the results you’re looking for.

Define your business goals, marketing objectives, and target audience.

  • Are you trying to shift upmarket or gain market share in new verticals?
  • Do you want to grow brand, demand, or a balance?
  • What personas or job titles are you trying to reach?

Next, map out your KPIs. How will you measure the success of the agency relationship? For B2B SaaS, KPIs might include:

  • Convert X qualified leads in Q3/Q4
  • Increase organic web traffic by X%
  • Close X enterprise deals before year-end

Now for the uncomfortable part: your budget. Many CMOs are under pressure to deliver more results with less budget (Gartner). Sharing your actual agency budget might feel like you’re giving away an opportunity for a deal, but you’re actually setting both parties up for success.

Think of it like building a custom house: You are the homeowner; your agency is the builder. You would never approach a home builder and ask them to provide a quote without first sharing your budget and specific requirements. Otherwise, you’re likely going to be disappointed and frustrated with the outcome. They might map out six bedrooms when you only wanted three. Or propose lower-quality finishings assuming that you want the lowest price possible. Without a clear budget, there’s a lot of guessing and assuming going on.

By sharing your budget upfront, you equip prospective agencies to pitch the best solutions for your budget.

Decide on a selection method

Before you start interviewing agencies, align your selection committee on your evaluation process. There are several common approaches you can use to select an agency, each with pros and cons. Likely, you will end up using a combination of multiple methods.

For example, you might begin your start by asking for referrals, consult directories to top up your list, and reach out directly to the agencies that made your shortlist.

The method(s) listed below are not mutually exclusive. But they can help you weigh the pros and cons of each and see which methods align best with your business objectives, agency expectations, and decision timeline.

Agency selection methods

Selection Process Pros Cons
RFP (Request for Proposal)
  • Standardized process allows easy comparison of agencies
  • Formal documentation of agency capabilities
  • Can lead to competitive pricing
  • Time-consuming for both parties
  • May limit creative solutions due to rigid format
  • Can lack personal connection and understanding of unique business needs
Direct Outreach
  • Personalized interaction from the start
  • Allows for tailored presentations of capabilities
  • Greater emphasis on portfolios
  • Direct negotiation of terms and scope
  • Requires more research to identify potential agencies
  • May miss out on discovering lesser-known agencies
  • Time-intensive process to engage multiple agencies
  • High trust
  • Likely to have proven success in similar projects
  • Insider perspective into agency process and experience
  • Shortens the vetting process
  • Limited by the size of your network
  • May not always find an agency with the specific expertise needed
  • Potential for bias based on personal relationships
Online Platforms/ Directories
  • Wide variety of agencies to choose from
  • Reviews and ratings can help gauge agency quality
  • Can filter and search based on location, specialization, specific needs, and budget
  • Quality of agencies can vary
  • Reviews may not always be reliable
  • Overwhelming amount of options without a clear way to vet each one

Key criteria for potential agency partners

Most often, B2B SaaS companies are searching for a long-term relationship with an agency. The commitment can be scary, but you can minimize the risk of making the wrong call by establishing your evaluation criteria in advance.

Whether you’re a pre-seed startup, Series B scaleup, or growing enterprise, look for an agency that demonstrates experience working with B2B SaaS and a clear understanding of your business goals.

Experience with B2B SaaS

In the agency world, there are generalists and specialists. Some agencies exclusively serve B2C, others B2B, and some serve both. The same is true for industry — agencies may specialize in food and beverage, agriculture, health, SaaS, and more.

There are distinct advantages for a B2B SaaS company working with an agency that specializes in B2B, or especially B2B software. These agencies will have a deeper understanding of your market, business challenges, and best practices, and typically deliver better value per dollar than an agency with limited experience with B2B or SaaS.


Specialization B2B SaaS-Specialized Agency Generalist Agency
Expertise and Knowledge
  • Deep understanding of the B2B SaaS industry, including market trends, buyer behaviors, and common challenges
  • Able to offer insights and strategies tailored to the SaaS business model​​​​
  • Broad marketing knowledge across various industries
  • May lack experience or understanding of the specific nuances of B2B or SaaS
Targeted Strategies
  • Strategies are highly tailored to the SaaS buyer journey, focusing on lead generation, conversion, and retention within the software subscription model
  • Experience marketing to complex buying committees and multiple personas
  • Strategies may be more generic, focusing on broader marketing principles that apply across industries
  • Less familiar with specific SaaS metrics and goals​​
Industry Networks
  • Access to a network of contacts and platforms relevant to B2B SaaS
  • May provide referrals to other SaaS vendors, accelerator programs, venture capitalists, or grant opportunities
  • Networks are more diverse, which can be beneficial for broad market outreach but may lack direct connections within the SaaS industry that could lead to strategic partnerships or opportunities​​
Cost Efficiency
  • More efficient use of budget due to their expertise and targeted approach
  • Greater potential for ROI due to expertise despite possibly higher rates for their specialization​​​​
  • May offer lower rates, but lack of specialization may result in less efficient budget use and lower ROI
Learning Curve
  • Minimal learning curve due to a deep understanding of the B2B SaaS landscape
  • Can hit the ground running with minimal onboarding​​​​
  • Experience learning complex subject matter and translating technical software features into easily understood value
  • May require a period of mutual learning and adjustment to fully understand your specific SaaS product and market
  • May struggle to work with technical subject matter

Understanding of business goals

The right agency can be an extension of your team, fully aligned with your vision and eager to collaborate for the best results. In your first interactions, they should ask questions, not just about project requirements, but about your larger business goals. Listen for questions like:

  • What can you share about your product roadmap?
  • How many leads does Marketing need to deliver per month to hit your quarterly revenue targets?
  • Do you have any mergers or acquisitions on the horizon?

If an agency isn’t asking questions about your business goals, they won’t be able to deliver solutions that help you reach them.

10 skills and capabilities to look for

Skills and capabilities to look for in an agency

  1. Data-driven approach
  2. Technical proficiency
  3. B2B branding expertise
  4. SaaS UX and UI design
  5. Visual communication of complex concepts
  6. Conversion copywriting
  7. Accessibility
  8. Versatility
  9. Pricing strategy
  10. SaaS ecosystem connections


Download Free Agency Selection Checklist


Agencies come in all shapes and sizes. With such a broad range of skills and experiences, it’s challenging to compare agencies on price, location, strategic strength, technical proficiency, creativity, etc.

To set your B2B SaaS company up for a successful long-term agency relationship, look for an agency that checks these ten boxes.

1. Data-driven approach

A data-driven approach is a must. Your agency should base strategic decisions on thorough research and data analysis. To do this, they should work with you to gather historical performance data and develop benchmarks to evaluate future results.

Look for an agency with a strong command of analytical tools for website performance (e.g. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Tag Manager) and user behavior (e.g. CrazyEgg, HotJar, Full Story). Proficiency with these tools allows them to establish accurate, reliable data streams, uncover actionable insights, and optimize your digital channels for conversion.

Questions to ask:

  • How do you gather qualitative and quantitative research?
  • Share an example of a successful conversion rate optimization.
  • How will you report progress and results?

2. Technical proficiency

To maximize the performance of your B2B SaaS website, look for an agency with deep front-end development experience and knowledge of integrations, plugins, and APIs. The agency should be familiar with your tech stack and be able to advise you on your CMS, form strategy, chat integrations, email marketing tools, and more. An experienced agency will tailor technical recommendations to your business needs and growth plans.

Confirm if the agency keeps development in-house or if they outsource. Outsourced teams may b able to deliver to your needs, but be aware of the potential downsides to this structure:

  • Time zone-related communication challenges
  • Delayed emergency response
  • Lower standards for quality or version control
  • Language barriers
  • Rate premiums for contract or freelance work
  • Limited collaboration with other creatives (e.g. design, copywriting)

Questions to ask:

  • What technical roles do you have within your agency?
  • Are your developers in-house or outsourced?
  • What content management systems (CMS) and tech stacks do you have experience with?
  • Tell me about a time when you advised a client to change their tech stack. Why did you recommend that?

3. B2B branding expertise

B2B SaaS companies face unique challenges in branding and design. Many struggle to differentiate from competitors and develop brands that resonate with their target audience. It’s common for B2B SaaS startups to focus on gaining traction with small to mid-sized businesses (SMB), then try to move upmarket to target larger enterprise customers.

But a brand crafted for SMBs isn’t always going to catch the eye of enterprises. There’s a different standard. And while it’s common for SaaS companies to rebrand during their lifetime, developing a scalable brand from the start is more time and cost-effective.

Agencies with experience working with startup, SMB, and enterprise clients will understand the nuances of B2B SaaS branding. They can help you craft a unique, memorable brand that can scale with your company.

Questions to ask:

  • Share examples of B2B rebrands. Describe the before and after.
  • What’s your perspective on the difference between B2B and B2C branding?
  • What factors influence a B2B brand’s ability to move upmarket?

4. SaaS UX and UI design

User experience design isn’t just about making design look good. It’s about reducing friction for web visitors and product users. It’s about making it easy for them to achieve their goals.

UX and UI are especially important in today’s saturated SaaS market. If your website or product isn’t easy to use and users don’t enjoy their interactions with it, countless competitors are waiting to take your place.

Look for an agency with UX and UI designers who can identify sticking points on your website or within your product and propose evidence-based solutions.

Questions to ask:

  • Do you have UX and UI designers on your team?
  • What overlap or connection do you see between the website experience and the product experience?
  • What are some common UX issues you see in B2B SaaS companies?

5. Ability to visually and verbally communicate complex information

A SaaS agency’s secret sauce is the ability to translate complex functionality into understandable, relatable visual and written content.

Take, for example, a SaaS product that offers comprehensive workflows. A creative team with limited experience working with complex subject matter may struggle to distill the true value. Illustrations may be too small or complex. The copy may be laden with technical jargon not widely understood by the buying committee.

Agency creatives specializing in complex or technical software are skilled at finding and highlighting the most important parts of a complicated workflow. They know how to strike the balance between too high-level and too deep. Together, designers and copywriters collaborate to visually and verbally communicate the key concept clearly and effectively.

Focused, scannable product illustrations and descriptions make your product’s value more tangible and help them envision using the product, significantly boosting the likelihood of conversion.

Questions to ask:

  • Share work samples where you had to distill the value of complex concepts.
  • How do your designers decide when to show real product screenshots vs illustrations?
  • What types of complex subject matter has your team worked with?

6. Conversion copywriting

Conversion copywriters don’t simply write to educate, they write to inspire action. These writers are trained in conversion rate optimization (CRO) and strategically apply conversion science (e.g. psychological principles of persuasion) to compel readers to take action.

Experienced conversion copywriters can weave together your value proposition, key messages, benefits, and proof points into a compelling narrative. Where time, scope, and budget permit, they may also conduct Voice of the Customer (VoC) research to deepen their understanding of how customers talk about your product and why it’s most valuable.

In addition to conversion copywriting, look for copywriters experienced in writing persuasive for multiple personas within the B2B buying committee. They know how to effectively surface the key benefits for a CIO on one web page (more technical value), and the benefits for a VP of Operations (more practical value) on another.

Questions to ask:

  • How will your copywriters learn about our software?
  • What CRO training have your copywriters received?
  • Share a few examples of technically complex SaaS clients you’ve worked with.

7. Accessibility

Accessible branding, design, and development ensure that your brand and product experiences are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

If you’re hiring a web agency, be sure they understand and adhere to the latest web design and development accessibility guidelines and can advise you on the legal requirements within your region. For brand and marketing, look for an agency that prioritizes accessible color palettes, typography, and font size.

Questions to ask:

  • What web accessibility best practices does your agency follow?
  • Share an example of a brand guide with accessibility guidelines.

8. Focus and versatility

Be wary of agencies who claim to do it all. Despite these frequent claims, there is no such thing as a full-service agency. Rather than looking for one agency to do everything, look for an agency known for doing what you need them to do. If you need a website redesign, focus on agencies known for web.

Then, after confirming that the agency can deliver what you need most, examine their versatility. Look for natural opportunities to leverage their additional skillsets for other areas of sales and marketing.

When the same agency rebrands your company, applies the brand to your website and product, and creates sales and marketing collateral, you can keep your in-house team focused on high-priority tasks and the agency focused on branding and creative.

Questions to ask:

  • What services are you known for?
  • What services, beyond the current requested scope of work, could you offer to help us hit our goals?
  • Share an example of a client engagement that included multiple services.
  • If our priorities change, can we reallocate your services to another area of our business?

9. Pricing strategy

An agency with deep familiarity with the B2B SaaS space can offer invaluable advice about communicating pricing strategies. Over time, they may have gleaned knowledge from the SaaS market or working with similar clients.

They understand the competitive landscape and can benchmark pricing web pages against comparable products and identify opportunities to differentiate. They may also be able to advise you about pricing calculators that have worked well in the market and apply similar strategies to reach your product and target audience.

Beyond the initial pricing page strategy, an experienced B2B SaaS agency can leverage analytics and user feedback to help you refine your pricing communication in response to market dynamics, customer preferences, and product evolution, so you can optimize for conversion and retention.

Questions to ask:

  • What’s your first impression of our pricing page strategy?
  • Do you have experience building pricing calculators?
  • How would you leverage research and data to advise on our pricing strategy?

10. Integration with the SaaS ecosystem

Agencies that have been in the B2B SaaS ecosystem for a while may offer value in unexpected ways, especially for early-stage SaaS companies. For example, they may have connections with accelerator programs or business incubators and be able to help you network. Or, depending on your location, they may be aware of grants you could leverage to accelerate product development or extend your marketing runway.

Questions to ask:

  • Are you aware of any grants we could qualify for?
  • Do you have connections with accelerator programs or business incubators?
  • Share an example of how you’ve helped one of your clients reach a key financial milestone.

Other factors to consider

Agency size

The size, and even prestige, of an agency can significantly impact the service model, pricing, and even the amount of personal attention your account receives. You could be a small agency’s biggest client or a large agency’s smallest. Neither of these situations is inherently bad, but there are implications to consider.


Agency Size Pros Cons Potential Impact
on Pricing
Small Agency
  • Agile and flexible to changes
  • More personalized attention and customized service
  • Often niche or specialized expertise
  • May have limited resources and less capacity to deliver to accelerated timelines
  • Potentially less comprehensive service offerings
  • Lower overhead costs, which can translate to more competitive hourly rates or project fees
Medium Agency
  • Balance between personalized service and resource availability
  • Broader skill sets and capabilities
  • Can handle larger projects than small agencies
  • May begin to have higher overhead costs
  • Potential for less direct access to senior staff compared to smaller agencies
  • Moderately higher pricing than small agencies due to increased capabilities and overhead, but generally offers a good balance of cost-to-service ratio
Large Agency
  • Access to a wide range of services and expertise
  • Can handle multiple large projects simultaneously
  • Often has a proven track record and extensive portfolio
  • Higher overhead costs due to larger staff and operations
  • May offer less personalized service
  • Possible slower response times due to size
  • Higher hourly rates or project fees due to significant overhead
  • Offers comprehensive services for larger scale projects
Prestigious Agency
  • Often recognized industry leaders with award-winning work
  • Possesses high-profile case studies and testimonials
  • Access to top talent and exclusive resources
  • Premium pricing for the prestige and reputation
  • Similar or exaggerated cons of large agencies, including the potential for less personalized service
  • Potential of being a small fish in a large pond of clients
  • Premium pricing on top of higher hourly rates or project fees due to the agency’s brand and market position
  • Offers unmatched expertise and recognition

Agency location

Consider where your shortlisted agencies are located. Remote work has opened doors to collaboration across the globe, but consider potential pros and cons of location.

  • Will it be easy to collaborate in person or virtually?
  • Do time zone differences limit the overlap of working hours?
  • Are there potential cultural or language barriers?
  • Are there pricing advantages to currency conversion?

Agency communication style

Partnering with an agency requires a lot of communication. Be sure to learn how an agency plans to communicate with you. You could work with the most skilled agency in the world, but poor communication could limit your results.

  • What tools do they suggest using?
  • How frequently will they communicate?
  • How should you escalate an issue if a problem arises?

Look for an agency willing and eager to establish clear lines of communication at the beginning of the partnership. While miscommunications are guaranteed to happen, the more confidence you can have in their communication skills and methods, the better.

How to navigate price comparisons

The cheapest agency rarely offers the best value, yet the most expensive agency might overcharge and underdeliver. Comparing agency quotes is challenging — different rates, cost breakdowns, and billing cycles; it’s rarely an apples-to-apples comparison. Establish your budget and objectives, share them openly with the agencies you’re considering, and see what they propose.

An experienced agency will be transparent about the value they can deliver within your budget and whether it’s sufficient to achieve your goals. They should also work to understand your priorities: budget, scope, or time. There is always a healthy tension between the three. Emphasizing one means adjusting the others. For example, if you tell a prospective agency you need an accelerated timeline, you will likely need to increase the price or reduce the scope.

Look for an agency that works with you to find the right balance. They may not be the cheapest option, but they may be the best partner.

Illustration of the priority triangle. Budget, Scope, and Time are the three points. Quality is in the middle.

Do your due diligence

It may go without saying, but you should treat prospective agencies like you would a potential new hire. Interview them, seek out references and testimonials, and review their portfolio. Look for specific evidence of success with similar B2B SaaS companies. The right agency doesn’t just claim expertise, they prove it.

And sometimes, even before you speak to references, you can tell that an agency gets you. They speak your language. They ask the right questions. They proactively address objections to put your mind at ease before you even have to ask. Pay attention to connections like these. They’re rare.


There are a lot of factors to weigh when searching for your next agency partner. The agency you choose will become a critical partner in navigating market challenges and seizing growth opportunities. Use the insights and strategies outlined in this guide to refine your agency requirements, thoughtfully evaluate potential partners, and ultimately select the one that aligns with your specific business needs and goals.

Remember, the right fit probably isn’t the agency with the lowest price or the flashiest portfolio. The best partner is the agency whose expertise, approach, and vision complement your own and set the stage for a productive and impactful collaboration.

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