I have a brilliant idea that I know could net me billions (with a b) of dollars. I should recruit/hire and train new business people for agencies. I could charge a premium for these sales superstars who not only understand the agency business but can have a deep discussion around any business issue and can also sell an agency’s abilities with passion and conviction. Sadly, the only humans who possess those unique qualities are you — agency owners. Yes — every once in a while, an agency spots and recruits the rare unicorn who can sell as well as an agency owner but for every success story I hear, I hear 99 tales of woe. The folks at Agency Post asked me to explore the idea of the mythical, magical new business guy and what agency owners should do instead and if you really want to dig into building a sustainable new business program for your agency — check out our online, on-demand course, Agency New Business Blueprint.
Everyone, even agency owners, makes mistakes now and then. However, the issue becomes more serious when the core of those mistakes (especially if they are repeated) is the agency's overarching business development strategy. If that is flawed, then the business is at risk. One of these common biz dev issues is what I call the “feast or famine” mentality. You recognize the cycle. You hunt down as much new business as you can find, then get so busy servicing clients that you stop chasing new business. All resources go to urgent matters like hitting deadlines, and meanwhile, blog posts don't get written and your monthly newsletter becomes a quarterly one. That can cost you a great deal…but it’s also 100% fixable. Hubspot asked me to write a series on new business challenges for agencies and the first piece covers this particular flaw in most agencies’ systems. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. If you really want to dig into building a sustainable new business program for your agency — consider our online, on-demand course Agency New Business Blueprint.
How many times have you had a prospect say something like: You are a breath of fresh air compared to our current/old agency You actually understand our business Our other agency never asked us questions like this Wow - I actually know where our dollars are being spent with you It feels good, no make that amazing, when we know we are exceeding our clients' expectations, even if it is because they were with a lousy agency before us. That makes it tempting to go out there and shout "we are not like the other guys! Come experience the difference! I totally get why you ask yourself "should I compare our agency to others?" I'm here to tell you, whatever you do, resist the urge. Think back to the 2018 mid-term election cycle and recall what I am guessing we all said or thought as we watched yet another political ad. “Stop talking about how bad the other guy is and just tell me what you will do.” I get the temptation. But avoid it in your own messaging and marketing. You talk about you. Your philosophy of the work. Your defined and tested process. Your unique POV. Your depth of experience. What is it like to work with you. Let them read between the lines and sense the difference. Where you can put some spotlight on the “we’re better than the other guys” is when you share other people’s words and reflections on you. Think: Google and FB reviews (which you should be actively seeking) Testimonials Client referrals The clients you offer to let prospects talk to You can create a cheat sheet of the above mentioned points of difference and ask them to [...]
Voice controlled devices (VCDs) like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri are exploding in the marketplace. There is no sign that the trend toward voice search and assistance is slowing down, and I’m here to assert that this trend can be advantageous to agency business development. As a matter of fact, I believe strongly that voice represents that next opportunity, that next patch of fertile ground where you can plant your flag. The opportunity for business development with voice controlled devices is big—huge even. Let’s do a quick dive into the data on VCD usage and where it’s headed. Then I will share what I consider the four top new business development strategies around voice. These are great to use in building your own business, and also strategies you can easily employ with clients. Voice is Getting Louder The market for VCDs is exploding. Echo and Echo dot were the best selling items last year for Amazon, which makes them the biggest seller on the biggest online retail platform. That’s big. In addition, once purchased, these items are frequently used. Google did a study that found 72 percent of people who own a voice-activated speaker or a smart speaker report that the devices are a regular part of their daily routine. Voice Controlled Devices are Doing More Last I checked, the Alexa Library is 30,000 skills, so 30,000 pieces of software that you can install into your Echo and then ask Alexa to do certain things for you. Google Home's library is less than 1,000. So in the assistance space, Alexa wins. But obviously, just like everywhere else, Google dominates voice search. Even more to the point, voice is on its way to becoming the default [...]
A finely tuned agency new business plan requires preparation and planning. Here are ten tips for planning a better, more successful agency new business effort: 1. Distinctly position your agency Some agencies try to be everything to everyone, or so their positioning would have us believe. As a service provider, that’s an understandable position to take, but it dilutes your offering when a prospective client comes along with specific needs (which is, really, all of them). The ability of an agency to differentiate itself begins with a compelling agency positioning. You don’t have to be so hyper-specialized as to become irrelevant for most AOR searches, but small tweaks in the way you talk about your agency can make a big difference in how you’re perceived. A great historic example was Kaplan Thaler Group’s “We make unknown brands famous. Make famous brands icons. And create ideas that become part of our culture.” Start with a philosophy that’s true to your work and style, and infuse that into everything else: work processes, interaction processes, and ultimately a positioning statement. 2. Focus on business issues This one is so obvious, yet so often forgotten in the rush to talk up your agency. Business issues should be an undercurrent to, if not the outright focus of, any conversation with a prospective client. Even if the client’s not willing to share all issues outright, there are ways to make the conversation more about them than you, and better yet, to show how you’re the solution they need. The successful matchup of client needs and agency offerings begins with an agency’s ability to draw explicit connections between the two. 3. Highlight service The importance of outstanding service delivery can’t be overlooked. [...]
The tone and outcome of the sales conversation are set into motion by how well you uncovered your prospect's needs early on. It’s impossible to adequately sell if you don’t even have a clear understanding of what your prospect needed in the first place! While that sounds like a no-brainer, many sales pros rattle off their list of differentiators and wait for the prospect to be impressed instead of asking clear, concise questions and listening to their responses actively. There are two types of need you can uncover during these interactions: aspirational needs and frustration needs. Aspirational needs include things that the prospect wants and does not yet have. Frustration needs are born out of the pain points the prospect is experiencing with their current solution that they’re looking to solve. Uncovering your prospect's needs is simpler than you think Believe it or not, the four key questions that drive the uncovering the prospect's needs portion of the sale are pretty simple. The first three should be answered by the prospect and the last one, which may be the most overlooked, should be answered by none other than you! So, let’s dive into the four questions you must ask to uncover your prospect's needs. 1. What do they need? Straightforward, right? So many sales pros tell leads what they need instead of asking the lead what they think their needs are. If you believe in your product or service and if you know it like the back of your hand; it’s easy to assume that your prospect knows they need it. But you need to ask thoughtful questions to see where they are at. You don’t need to bury the question here; you can simply [...]
Agencies everywhere are finding new business development to be a greater and greater challenge. And, unfortunately, the business development strategies of most agencies are destined for failure. 1. Unattainable growth rates are often needed to achieve agency growth objectives 2. The investment required and the low odds of winning pitches is debilitating 3. The stress on organic growth is intense and rarely achieved 4. Too much reliance is placed on a small group of senior “sellers” 5. Difficulty “standing out” in pitches leads to expensive, wasteful theatrics 6. Cold calling experiences are generally unsuccessful and de-motivating If you experience some of these challenges, your team is not alone! Most agencies face these challenges – hence an opportunity exists to re-invent the industry’s new business development strategies. The Problems with Agency New Business Development Strategies Today Most agencies approach new business development in a three step fashion that is fundamentally flawed: 1) Competitive Pitches and Reviews These are by far the biggest area of focus for most larger agencies. Reviews get most of the business development resources – in people, focus and money. Reviews, however, can be a fools’ paradise: you must make it through the questionnaire stage against a dozen other agencies just to be a finalist (1 in 12 odds) – and then, upon becoming a finalist, the odds are generally only 1 in 4 that you will win. If you do the math, there is a 2% chance of being awarded the business at the time you receive the questionnaire. There must be a better strategy! And yet, while this is such a bitter place to invest – because many of the largest accounts are awarded through a review – it is easy [...]
As a digital agency owner, you probably tell your clients all the time that they need to refine and focus in on their service or product offerings. But have you applied the same logic to your own digital agency? Finding a niche for your digital agency allows you to connect with your prospects and deliver a unique selling proposition that speaks directly to them. To make this connection with a prospect on the first impression though you must have clear and targeted messaging. If you’re trying to tell ten different stories and appeal to ten different audiences, then you’ll lose them all. This is why you’ve never seen an Asian-Italian-Greek-Burger-Smoothie fusion restaurant. Sounds silly when you think of it like that. So why then are you and your digital agency trying to help so many people, in so many different industries, by providing so many different services? Instead of focusing in on on being really good at one thing and developing a killer value proposition along the way, you’re spreading yourself too thin. Find a niche for your digital agency now. Every day you waste, the competition is getting more focused, more precise, and more skilled at the niche you could be in. However, it’s important to pick the right niche, one that provides enough opportunity for new business without being oversaturated. You need to be able to carve out a unique section for your agency and there needs to be a demand for it. Follow the nine steps below to find your digital agency’s perfect niche and start growing your agency today. 1. Find a niche that is digitally friendly Is the industry digitally friendly? A lot of industries have done as little as [...]
This is part II in a series on podcasting for advertising agencies. Read part I here, then come back and join us for part II. Earlier this week, I shared with you why and how podcasting for advertising agencies can help you win new clients. I even shared with you how to line up stellar guests (and new business prospects!) for your podcast. If you followed my advice, you've likely got some podcast guests waiting in the wings now. So, you might be wondering: Now that I have podcast guests, what do I talk about with them? I think the real question here is: how do I turn this interview into a sales/partnership conversation. I’ll get to this. For the interview itself, though: Rule #1: Serve the audience. It needs to be something your core audience will actually find interesting. So, you can talk about that. But the benefit of an interview, is that your guest is the content. Be curious about what they do, their story, and treat it like a conversation so you bring out the best in them. Aside from that, the topic of conducting a great podcast interview is for another post entirely. I won’t get into it here. It is 80/20 though: you can extract the vast majority of value from a guest simply by asking them questions like you would ask someone at a dinner party. But serve your audience: what do they want to learn about from your guest? You will probably find the same questions you have in your mind, are the same your guests have in their minds. Ask those questions. Remember, your guest is the content—you’re just facilitating. What’s important is that you don’t launch [...]
I don’t run an agency, but I do work with agencies to develop a sales process custom-suited for generating repeatable new business opportunities. In the next 5 minutes you spend reading this post, I’m going to share the exact method you could start experimenting with to double the productivity of your agency’s outbound business development. In short, I’m going to share the secret way to grow your agency fast. Really Fast. Fair warning – I am going to talk about the two tools I’ve founded (SellHack and Replify) throughout this article. There are certainly other tools out there that do the same type of work and I’ve mentioned a few throughout the piece. Even if you choose to do all of this manually, it will still work. It’s just a matter of how much time versus money do you want to spend. How to Grow Your Agency Really Fast Step 1 in the process of how to grow your agency really fast relies very much on the word “experiment.” This is a word carefully chosen to describe the mindset your business development team must embrace when hunting for new clients. Some of you are reading this thinking, “Yeah, but most of my business comes from referrals.” Okay, great. Keep asking for referrals. But if you’re serious about how to grow your agency really fast, forget referrals and do what I suggest. Consider a New Channel for Developing Leads Moving away from relying solely on referrals is smart business. So I’m suggesting you consider a new channel for developing leads: An outbound channel. More specifically, I’m talking about automating your prospect list-building, sending cold emails and follow-ups. You can do this manually or you can use [...]