Chuck Meyst has been in sales all his life, from his childhood bike route to CEO and founder of AgencyFinder.com, a matchmaking service for agencies.
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- Why Chuck started AgencyFinder and how it works
- Why agency descriptions of themselves should be results-focused
- What both clients and agencies need to do well to find the right partner
- The big mistakes agencies make with their websites
- Sales: why do agencies not like this word?
- The traits Chuck sees in terrible employees
- Why processes are so important, especially when it comes to sales
- The characteristics in agencies that clients love to see
- How agencies win business through pure chemistry
- What AgencyFinder does to assess agencies and how to receive that perfect score of 100
- How AgencyFinder helps agencies team up with clients that are great matches
- Things agencies can do today to improve upon the topics discussed in this episode
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hey, everybody Drew McLellan here. Before we jump into the episode you are about to listen to, I wanted to make sure that you knew that we are doing open mic webinars and they are available to anyone in the world, just head over to the Agency Management Institute.com/ask Drew, and you will see the dates and times for this month and next month. And we’ll talk about anything you want to talk about – agency operations, COVID, whatever it is that is on your mind. I’m happy to answer your questions and everyone else on the call shares as well as asks questions. So it’s really a round-robin of learning for everybody. All right. I’d love to have you there. All you have to do is register. You can attend live, or just get the replay after we record it. Okay. Now here’s that music that you know and love.
Speaker 2 (00:51):
If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build A Better Agency podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.
Speaker 1 (01:25):
Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of Build A Better Agency. As you know, the reason I am putting together this podcast series is that I know all too well, the risks that we all take owning agencies and I want to make sure we mitigate those risks and maximize the rewards that can come with agency ownership. One of the topics that when I’m hanging out with agency owners always comes up with is the topic of new business and how to do it differently, how to do it better, how to differentiate yourself. And so I know that today’s guest is going to strike a chord with all of you. Chuck Meyst has been in sales his whole life, and he doesn’t think that sales is a dirty word or a bad word. He started with a morning paper route when he was a kid, went into engineering sales, magazine, publisher, work, voice recognition technology, and then found himself in the agency new business space.
Speaker 1 (02:11):
He’s worked in that space for quite a few years. And about 20 years ago started the organization called agencyfinder.com. And basically, that is a matchmaking service for agencies. So what Chuck’s going to talk to us about today is the things that we do, right, the things that we do wrong, and how we can be better at agency new business. So with that, Chuck, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Drew. I’m glad to be here.
So tell us a little bit more about Agency Finder.com and sort of your role as a sales guy and your background.
Speaker 3 (02:46):
Well, I was involved in agency new business process, starting back in 1990, working with Sanders Consulting. And at that time we were the be all, end all to teach agencies new business process. I was there for four years. I left to start my own firm doing something similar, but different in terms of principle. I came to the conclusion in doing many onsite engagements and teaching new, new business people, the proactive outreach process that basically pardon me, but agencies don’t like doing new business. Now, what I mean, there is that they don’t like to have to pick up a phone and reach out to somebody who is for the most part a stranger. And I realized that my consulting business at that time and the staff we have had, were never going to be able to address all the agencies or stay in touch with agencies that we taught.
Speaker 3 (03:53):
And as a matter of fact, all of this came from, I was returning from Campbell Ewald, where I’d done an engagement to teach two new business people, to replace two new business people that I taught two years prior. And I thought, I just can’t do this. So flying home, I was reading a book on entrepreneurship and the long story short was, I said, we need to reverse this process. Agencies say, you just get me somebody who can get me an opportunity and I can close it. So essentially long story short, I came up with the reverse idea for new business development, which is Agency Finder. I can keep talking. You got a question in there somewhere?
Yeah, just tell us a little bit about Agency Finder and how it works.
Speaker 3 (04:53):
Okay. Well, we launched Agency Finder back in 1997. We were the first finder service. And actually, in terms of format, we continue to be one of the few finder services in the agency community. Essentially what we do is we’ve got a database. Agencies are invited to build profiles. The profile gives them about 500 data fields that they can check off to identify their experience, their services, and on and on and on. There are also seven essays. They write typically 500 words. In the end, that profile is the largest data file on an agency in the industry. So that’s what we’ve got to start with. Clients then are invited to come and register. And when they come in, they’re asked to outline their search requirements, and essentially they are working on the other side of the Chinese wall from that same data set. So they check off what they want in an agency, what vertical market experience, what services, what market specialization.
Speaker 3 (06:01):
So they build their search outline, our search engine finds those that satisfy or appear to satisfy. We look at those, we further edit that list. Eventually, the client gets to see those that satisfy the criteria. They tell us who they want us to invite. We invite them. And at that point, essentially, we kind of walk away from the whole process. It’s meant for the agencies to respond to the invitation, either call and conduct an interview with the client. We call that a due diligence interview or they’re meant to let us know that they have to decline for some reason, workload budget or a conflict. So from that point forward, we kind of back away. But the whole process is to introduce and connect agencies that appear to be great candidates based on what the client has told us through their data entry and those stories.
Speaker 1 (07:02):
So you’re the E-Harmony of agency new business is what you’re saying, Chuck.
Speaker 3 (07:07):
Drew, that’s so well-spoken. The funny thing is, in the early days, people used to say, well, tell me how this whole thing works. And I would say it’s sort of like a dating service. And before E- Harmony came on the scene, you won’t believe how many people said to me when I use that analogy, oh, that’s disgusting. People would never do that. Blah, blah, blah. And along came E-Harmony. And I, from that point forward, I would just say, well, essentially, we’re the E-Harmony of the advertising industry and they’d go, Oh, I understand.
Speaker 1 (07:42):
Yeah. Right. Alright. That’s awesome. So, I’m curious how many matches, the E-Harmony commercials always tell you how many marriages there are. So how many matches over the last decade do you think you guys have successfully done?
Speaker 3 (08:00):
Well successfully? That’s an interesting expression. According to our counter on the website, we’ve got in excess of 10,000 such introductions and presumed matches. We’ve got quite a few that have lasted a long time. We have some that have come back to do subsequent searches when a relationship, in one case that I’m thinking of, it didn’t last beyond three years, but, somewhere less than 10,000.
Speaker 1 (08:34):
Well, honestly, even a three-year relationship for most agencies is a pretty good client relationship. So it sounds like when you finally make the match, they work pretty well. I’m curious how accurate do you think when the clients come to you in search of an agency, how clear are they about what they need and want and how often is that actually what they need and want?
Speaker 3 (09:02):
Well, that’s an interesting question. We’ve had agencies say, well, what should we call ourselves? I mean, what should we be, an ad agency or an integrated or a digital, because those are options on our site. I try to explain that, frankly, when clients come to us, they’re seldom looking for a specific type. I don’t see them come on saying, I need a digital agency. Clients tend to say, I need to improve my sales. And I’m often suspect if somebody is trying to be so specific as to say, I expect to increase my sales with this kind of an agency with these services, with this experience. Because, in fact, as I said, most of these CMOs, VP of marketing, whoever it is that comes to us, they’re looking to increase their sales. And as a matter of fact, I say to them, what metrics are you going to use? In other words, when you hire this agency, what will constitute something successful? And even there, they struggle to identify what that might be.
Speaker 1 (10:13):
Yeah, the agencies I work with to find that with clients, but interesting, one of the things we talk a lot about in some of our workshops and our peer networks is that agencies spend too much time trying to describe themselves as opposed to talking about how their clients are better after working with them. So exactly what you’re saying is, talk about results rather than worrying so much about the label you put on yourself.
Speaker 3 (10:37):
Well, and case in point, we’re doing a search right now for a consulting firm that their process is pretty complicated, but talking to the woman, who’s the VP of marketing, who in turn is telling me about the three conversations that she had with three of our identified and invited agencies, she talks about how distinctly different they are. One happens to be in Iowa, one’s in Florida, one’s in New York and the client’s in New Jersey, but she’s okay with all locations. But according to her, and even the agencies telling me, most of them all essentially ask her questions. They did not make sales presentations. One agency didn’t even ask what the budget was.
Speaker 1 (11:29):
Huh? That’s interesting. As agencies and clients come together and as you observe this dance, let’s look at each side of the equation. What are clients or prospects doing to come to that dance that they could do better? And then I’m going to obviously ask you what agencies should do better too, but what are, what if you want to be a great client, looking for a great agency match, what should they be doing better than they do today?
Speaker 3 (12:00):
Because we do all the work we do by telephone, which by the way, is important to mention, because as a search consultant, which is what Agency Finder really is, we’re a search consultant. We use the internet, we use the database, that’s our flypaper. That’s what we use to stick to a client or in the case of agencies looking for us, stick to an agency. So I wouldn’t say we don’t have the luxury, but the fact of the matter is we don’t get to sit with them and see if they’ve got a stack of paper or checkoff sheets. But I would say based on what our conversations become, I don’t hear from them that they’ve got a checkoff sheet, but we’ve given them a menu that develops a fairly precise checkoff sheet, which helps them articulate their requirements. I also would say incidentally, that the person who comes to us is supposed to be authorized to conduct an agency search and to take it to a conclusion. And unfortunately, many of these people believe that’s true only to find out near the end that the chairman of the company steps in and takes over. And that’s a very unfortunate situation. And it’s also the agencies, particularly if it changes direction, the agencies are not at all happy but I would say that the person who comes to us needs to make sure they’ve discussed what they’re going to do with their supervisor and their management, however, that happens to be. And that they’ve developed a checklist that they can use to conduct intelligent conversations.
Speaker 1 (13:51):
Okay. And I think we see that in most new business opportunities that oftentimes the decision-making committee, if you will, shifts around a little bit in the process. So let’s look at the other side of that. What could agencies do better in this process? How are they stubbing their own toe?
Speaker 3 (14:11):
I can answer the question as it relates to Agency Finder, but let me broaden it out a bit. Believe me, we’ve looked at thousands of agency websites and there are some that are outstanding. There are some that are incredibly poor. I noticed a couple of things @agencywebsites, which is good for Agency Finder searches or a Google search. And that is incredibly so when you go to the contact page on an agency website, what I abhor and what is probably the worst thing that they can do for a new business, they’ve got text box fill in the form that basically says, tell me who you are and if you’re lucky, I might get back to you. That’s what it implies. On that same page, there is no indication of where that agency is. There’s no physical address. There’s no phone, there’s no email.
Speaker 3 (15:11):
There’s nothing. No client who’s looking for an agency is comfortable dealing with an agency that hasn’t represented where they are. So that’s step number one. And that applies whether it’s an Agency Finder search or a Google search. Second thing, I think, you know, if you ask agencies if you ask clients, I think you’d say that for any search of any magnitude where the client wants to have three final presenters, then ultimately, however they got there, the three agencies are going to be quite a bit alike. So the deciding factor Drew, is what?
Do I like them?
Yeah. We call it chemistry though. Right? So if we all acknowledge that chemistry is probably the most powerful, single factor to selecting an agency and on an agency website, they don’t mention their name, they don’t show their picture, there’s no indication other than a paragraph that says our people have the combined experience of 412 years.
Speaker 3 (16:24):
How ridiculous. Right? So what an agency needs, whatever the tab is, it’s a team tab or meet our people tab and then whether they’re caricatures or photographs, and by the way, in both cases, particularly with photographs, there must be a name there with a title there. The clients don’t want to have to click on every damn picture of 35 to find the CEO, right? So the two big missing links that are killing agencies at new business are the lack of an unaddressed location and the lack of any presentation of their people.
Speaker 1 (17:08):
Boy, I don’t disagree with you at all, but it’s such basic stuff. I mean, you know, agencies who do this for a living, for other people, that they can’t get it right for themselves is in some ways sad and other ways sort of staggering.
Speaker 3 (17:26):
Well, yeah, before we present our candidates, using our process to a client, we actually look at each one of those agencies the same way the client is meant to do that. But we do it before because we have discovered that if we don’t do that, clients are going to say, Chuck, why did you include that agency? I mean, we’re looking for a B2B shop and I landed on one and it says we are food. So we now go through and if we find that kind of disconnect, we take them away. Or if we find that they don’t have, a team representation or a physical address, we take them off. I mean, I’m tired of fighting their battles.
Speaker 1 (18:15):
Yeah, no, it makes perfect sense. I’m not quite sure how to ask this question, so let me stumble around a little bit. What gets in the way of agencies doing new business better? Why in the world, in your opinion, from your perspective, why in the world would agencies make these sort of what you and I would call rookie mistakes? And then, what are the other mistakes they make through the process beyond the website that get them disqualified, even when they’re actively pursuing an opportunity?
Speaker 3 (18:48):
I think my observation and my position, I am basically a sales guy and have been all my life. But when I worked for Sanders Consulting, Stuart Sanders, who was very successful at agency new business absolutely said to me, Chuck, don’t use the word sales. They hate it. You know? So one of the things I noticed as I traveled, I have never, in all my years in this agency interface been at an agency where there’s a door panel or something that says sales department. You know, they don’t like to use the word, the word scares them. The same client I mentioned a minute ago with the three agencies said, this is a client speaking, Now she said, Chuck, I just hired a young fellow, 22 years old to do sales for us. But she said you know what, he’s a millennial. I can’t use the word sales. Do you know what his title is? Brand Advocate.
Speaker 3 (20:00):
And she said I’m teaching him sales. Cause she’s a salesperson herself. I’m teaching them sales. I said, don’t you have to bite your tongue. Oh, she said, yes, but it’s working fine as a brand advocate. He’s more than comfortable to spread the gospel. But she said, one day, I’m looking forward to telling them, Hey, you’re a salesman now, you know? So, I think, come back to your question. You say, what are the different things? First of all, I recognize that over the years, that number one, they hate to admit and they hate to embrace the expression sales. Number two, they seem to think that sales is somehow a talent that is naturally learned by making a series of telephone calls or having conversations or face to face meetings. And you’re going to learn on the job. And the answer is no, boys and girls, it doesn’t work that way.
Speaker 3 (21:03):
That is a taught specialization. And yet they don’t want to be taught. Most agency owners themselves feel the same way about sales. So they’re reluctant to seek out sales solutions. I remember Sanders Consulting is still around and Stuart is retired now, but we had a program, Stewart introduced something called the Spark and Torch. And the spark was meant to be the person who did the outreach. And the torch was the more senior person who accompanied the spark. And that’s an important word, accompany, on first meetings with clients. Well, we taught that process at seminar locations around the country, but it was meant to invite the spark and the torch, the two were meant to come together so that the spark could learn the daily grind and the torch could learn how to come in as the savior and close the deal.
Speaker 3 (22:05):
Well, guess what? Half the time the torches were too busy to come. Just send the spark. And I spent a lot of time after the sparks had been trained, they would call me and say, Chuck, help me. You know, my boss says, forget the mailing pieces. You just make phone calls. You don’t need a brochure. You know? So they fight themselves. And I don’t think that fight has changed. It seems to be the same. So my point is I hate to beat this dead horse, but they’ve got to embrace the fact that it’s a sales situation. They’ve got to be trained in the sales process and they need to apply sales, train people to the new business process.
Speaker 1 (22:55):
Yeah. I find it fascinating. So the agency owners that I hang out with all the time, the one thing they all want to talk about is new business, but they all want a magic bullet that doesn’t exist, which is, I want clients to just fall like manna from heaven and land at my feet. And/or I want to hire a salesperson, but I’m not gonna give them the process. I’m not going to give them resources. And if they don’t make a big sale within six months, I’m going to call it a failure and fire them.
Speaker 3 (23:30):
That’s right. Well, I mean lots, and not so much anymore, I suppose, but historically I used to meet lots of agency owners that would tell me, Oh, I’m hiring this new guy and he’s going to do everything for us. And I would then find myself having to talk to this new guy. And I could tell in my first conversation, this guy was a loser or whether it was a woman. They were arrogant. They didn’t know what they were talking about. They didn’t want to listen, do anything that I was willing to share with them. I’ll mentor anybody. But when somebody is off-putting, smart alec, I’m not too excited about that. But in years past, I used to say nothing. But now if I detect that early on, I tell the agency president, whoever you got, you got somebody there you need to get rid of.
Speaker 3 (24:25):
And I say that it sounds rather outspoken, but over the years, for instance, if I identified somebody who was like that, and then a year out, I’d call and, Oh, Tom’s not there anymore. So I talked to the president, Hey Eddie, what happened to Tom? Oh, Chuck, he was terrible. I said, well, I recognized that in Tom. He says to me, Chuck, you should have told me. So number one, that kind of a mismatch is terrible. And by the way, there’s a new business consultant that I know that does what I might call outreach calling on behalf of. He’s a solo practitioner, not a firm that does this with multiple people, but he said the same thing, Drew. That his agency clients all expect overnight success. And in many cases, they’re not willing to hang in to let it begin to mature.
Speaker 1 (25:25):
Yeah. I equate it to planting a seed and then standing over that seed and being mad that it hasn’t broken ground the next day. So, you know, you just dig it up and throw it away. Rather than let the roots take hold and, and do their job.
Speaker 3 (25:42):
And here’s another thing by the way you remind me. Invariably, what I find is that when an agency is looking to hire a new business person, number one, the agency does not have a process that they’ve been using or that they’ve been taught or that they have the tools to put into practice. So they don’t have any of that. So now they’re interviewing for new business. So now we got the new business applicant, who’s sitting there and thinking to him/herself, Oh, this agency probably has a really neat new business program that I can use. God forbid, I don’t know what to do without such a thing. So they both are talking to each other, thinking that the other guy has the process. Then they hire and find out, unfortunately, that neither one of them knows what to do.
Speaker 1 (26:40):
Right. And then they both get frustrated with the process, so it doesn’t work. Yeah. So let’s talk about the happier side of it. So you talk to a lot of clients every day. What are agencies doing that make them the right choice? How are they engaging differently? How are they coming across differently? How are they presenting themselves? Or what are they doing in the actual presentation that clients come back to you and say, we picked agency ABC, and they did this, which really knocked it out of the park.
Speaker 3 (27:14):
Surprisingly, we don’t hear as much about those out of the park hits that we would like to hear. And if we become persistent in asking, we get the impression that they’re annoyed, that we’re asking they want to move on now. But the characteristics that certainly bring favor are good listeners, agencies that ask questions that are pertinent questions. Well, I’d say another thing in the initial telephone interview that we arranged, the due diligence interview, that’s where both parties are meant and given the freedom to ask and answer of each other, there’s nothing off-limits. So it’s the agency’s opportunity to ask about budget, ask about client expectations, and the clients are impressed when the agency has done research on their company. Again, I come back to the one that’s current.
Speaker 3 (28:22):
One of the agencies is a PR firm and they did an incredible amount of research. The principal at this consulting firm, the client, as the PR agency described him, said, Chuck, this guy is like a Donald Trump in his industry. This guy has incredible cred. He said, I can’t imagine what remains to be done for this client, why they’re looking for an agency? It seems they’re getting everything. But when he talked to the client, because he had done such research, she was really impressed by how much he knew. And by the way, all three of these agencies in this initial interview, according to the client, did not sell themselves at all. They ask questions. And to that point, she liked all three of them and is planning to invite all three to come forward, to compete for the business.
Speaker 1 (29:23):
Yeah, it’s counterintuitive in some ways not to sell when you’re selling, but at this point, it really is very, again, back to our E-Harmony analogy, it very much is like a date. And so, we find people fascinating when they talk about us all the time, right? When they want to know more about us, I mean, that’s human nature. And so the agencies that come in, especially when they’re doing live presentations and burn up 30 minutes of their 60 minutes talking about themselves, really, get themselves in hot water. I think.
Speaker 3 (29:56):
By the way, that reminds me, we seldom are present at final presentations, but we did a search for DuPont Corian countertop materials a number of years ago, the budget was I think, $20 million. And there were three finalists. One was Kirshenbaum Bond. One was an agency out of Baltimore, now out of business. And the third was Doner. The room was set up with a series of eight-foot conference tables. And they were set up in such a way there was a big horseshoe arrangement. And the DuPont people not only were DuPont people there, but they had their distributors there.
Speaker 3 (31:01):
So around the outside of all these tables were chairs and people sitting and then upfront in the center was the presentation table. It was interesting because the first firm, again, whose name escapes me, gave me goosebumps when they were presenting their stuff. I can’t even remember exactly what it was, but God, it just emotionally, it just really wrinkled my back. And I thought, how can anybody beat this? Well, then Kirschenbaum presented. And there was a lot of chemistry and jocularity, and I thought that was neat. There was a woman, who I think has been president, she’s British and her accent was appealing, but the last round was Doner. And again, I wish I could remember his name, but Alan Kalter was the CEO. And the second guy was a salesman. And what he did Drew, in this presentation, he walked around the inside of those tables, that horseshoe I talked about. And it was almost, it was incredible, talking about chemistry. I mean, he walked that circle and I don’t think he shook anybody’s hand, but emotionally and verbally, it was almost that much of a contact. And he just swept that circle. And it was, in terms of the chemistry of it, they won the business by the way, 1much because of that. I mean, they were the winner. It was beautiful.
Speaker 1 (32:55):
Yeah. When I listened to that story, I think about what he did was, he sort of moved inside the circle and connected with them at a different level and figuratively or literally, that’s what agencies need to do is they need to get out of their own way and kind of move inside that client circle and make that connection. Yeah. I knew this was going to be a fascinating conversation and you are not disappointing. I have lots more to ask you, but first, let’s take a quick pause and then come on back. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, odds are, you’ve heard me mention the AMI peer networks or the agency owner network. And what that really is, it’s like a Vistage group or an EO group. Only everybody around the table owns an agency in a non-competitive market.
Speaker 1 (33:43):
It’s a membership model. They come together twice a year for two days, two days in the spring and two days in the fall. And they work together to share best practices. They show each other their full financials. So there’s a lot of accountability. We bring speakers in and we spend a lot of time problem solving around the issues that agency owners are facing. If you’d like to learn more about it, go to agencymanagementinstitute.com/network. Okay. Let’s get back to the show. So when you talk to clients and they’re talking about their agency relationships, and they’re talking about their own search, when they articulate what they’re looking for, do they understand it’s chemistry, or is that sort of the unspoken?
Speaker 3 (34:26):
I volunteer it. I don’t hear them saying it that often. And again, back to the question, you know, what are clients looking for? Are they looking for an experiential agency? Are they looking for it digitally? No. They’re looking for a marketing partner to help them improve their business. And what I think is important, well, back to the agency now, is an agency that doesn’t come to the table with a specific service in mind, such as digital marketing. As a matter of fact, this day, I asked a lot of people, what does digital marketing mean? And it means nothing anymore. I mean, everything we produce is done on a digital platform. So it’s now become vague as to what it means. If you’re a digital agency, does that mean you don’t do print that you don’t do outdoor? You tell me, Drew, what does it mean to you?
Speaker 1 (35:22):
Well, I think agencies are struggling with that. I think it used to be five, 10 years ago. A lot of agencies put that in their name or somewhere to prove that they had the chops to do work online. But I was just with a bunch of agency owners and we had the same conversation about what does digital mean? And it can mean anything from social to search to programmatic buying to websites and web dev to apps too. I mean, the list goes on and on, and there are very few agencies, in today’s day that if they don’t have some capability in that, are still around. You can’t survive today without having digital chops either internally or a great partner.
Speaker 3 (36:04):
Well, and not to diminish it, but it’s just another service or another medium, right?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yep. Okay. So let’s talk about, you see all these profiles of agencies and we’ve talked about some of the things that they do wrong. So we’ve talked about actually putting your location on your website, which is crazy, and your people and all of that. What do you observe that the good agencies are doing well in terms of attracting the right kind of client, the right kind of clientele to their business?
Speaker 3 (36:36):
Well, again, our relationship with these agencies is almost exclusively with and through Agency Finder.
Speaker 1 (36:44):
So whether it’s on Agency Finder or elsewhere, is it how they present themselves and how they talk about themselves? Is it that they have compelling case studies? What is it that, so you’ve got this huge database, right Chuck? So when you’re calling through to find the final X number that you’re going to invite to this initial discovery call with a client, what is it about what they say in the database or about themselves or their work that puts them in the yes column rather than the no column beyond they have the capacity to do the work?
Speaker 3 (37:18):
Well, that’s an interesting question because we have something called a power index, and this is a whole topic, by the way, that’s quite interesting. Power index, as we say, it is a measure of new business readiness, and it’s an algorithm. It’s a real-time number calculation that reflects the completeness of their profile. 85% is attributed to that. In other words, have they filled in all the blanks? It’s not a question of what they’ve said in the blank. It’s just a question, did they fill in the blanks, making the argument that if an agency comes to us to use our service of their own volition and then fails to finish filling in the blanks that don’t say they’re pretty sharp at new business,
Speaker 1 (38:07):
or very committed to the process, right? Yeah.
Speaker 3 (38:10):
So the power index, 85% of the score is a function of their completeness. There’s another 15% that is experiential, such things as have they paid their bill to us on time. Number two, do they return our phone calls? Number three, do they accept our business model? And in the beginning, we give them full credit for that. So if they’ve filled all their checkboxes and we don’t have any experience, their score is a hundred. But as we get to know them, if they maintain a good relationship with us, their score is still a hundred. But if they start failing to return phone calls or say, argue with us about our business model, they start losing points and they can dropdown. So number one, the Power Index is important. And what I’m saying, Drew, this is a whole different topic.
Speaker 3 (39:05):
But within the different industries, the advertising industry is one of the few that does not have any kind of regulation. I hate the word, but when you think about it, a doctor has to have a license. So does a chiropractor. Even the women that put on acrylic nails have to pass a test in most states and then be licensed to do it. Now without belaboring the point, what does an agency have to do or have to represent itself as an agency that will devote fiduciary responsibility to the client’s money, right?
You’re absolutely right. They have to hang up a shingle, right?
And to that point, I’m not trying to damn the industry, but I’m just saying poor clients, how are they to know when they’re meeting three or four or five agencies? I mean, they may be nice people.
Speaker 3 (40:07):
They may have good chemistry. They may present good materials, but how does that client know this agency knows what they’re doing and has the education to do it. So that’s why we end the story for a moment. That’s why we developed a Power Index. So we say to a client, if their score is a hundred, you can be fairly comfortable, at least as far as new business, that they score well. And if they got a 64, which some do, that means this agency hasn’t done their essays. I mean, they shouldn’t even get to the surface.
Speaker 1 (40:45):
Right. So, what you’re saying is oftentimes agencies are their own worst enemy. I often describe it as they get a little shiny object syndrome going. And so, they would come to a service like yours or start to engage with a prospect and then something draws their attention. And then they’re not as attentive to the detail as they need to be.
Speaker 3 (41:08):
I don’t want to overwhelm things with what’s wrong. What’s right? Customer service, you know, they’re responsive. In other words, when the client reaches out and says, I have an issue, they’re responsive. They’re also proactive in many cases. Now there are some clients that frankly don’t want this. And there are client,s I described the extreme. There is the Kinko agency. That’s the agency that essentially much because the client doesn’t want it differently, the client is so infused with great ideas that they almost overwhelm the agency. So the agency doesn’t need to do much thinking at night, they know the client will do it. So the client will get in touch with them the next day and say, look, I need this. And the agency does it. Well, that’s not a bad relationship. That’s a good relationship, the way that one is couched, but there are many clients that don’t have a clue what to do. They wouldn’t know a headline if they bumped into it. So they need an agency that’s proactive, that thinks about that client at night, that comes to the client the next day with some thoughts. And that’s the other extreme of a client-agency relationship. Nothing better about that one. It’s just, that’s what that client requires. So, I would just say attentiveness, no matter how the client wants it. It’s difficult to say be attentive because different clients want to be attended to in different ways.
Speaker 1 (42:49):
Well, but I think that in that you hit on one of the key components, which is agencies need to be very in tune with how their clients want to be connected with and contacted and about what kinds of things. So I need to know that my client responds better to text messages, or I need to know my client, Mondays are a day that I shouldn’t bother him or her, or I know that my client wants me to bring him ideas, big ideas, crazy ideas, and then we’ll talk through them together. Or my client really looks, here’s the program. We’ve agreed to run the program just to do it.
Speaker 3 (43:29):
And that reminds me again. I learned, don’t let Stuart Sanders, hear this. But I learned so much from working for Stewart.
and the things that he knew about the intuitive and the chemistry and the parts of agency new business relationships, which, and then it reminds me that, for instance, he taught a chemistry process and it was a derivative of the Myers Briggs four-quadrant idea. But the essence of it is birds of a feather flock together in business. So if you’re a type-A agency, in other words, if you’re led by somebody who’s a type A, who runs a tight ship. if you look at your client list, you’ll probably see that your best clients are also type A. And if you’re looking for new clients, however, you do that, whether you’re coming to us or whether you do it proactively or whatever, you should be seeking more type As, because a lot of the connectivity tissue is already there in place.
Speaker 1 (44:52):
I oftentimes, we talk about, every prospect is not a good prospect, and sometimes the best thing an agency can do is walk away if they don’t think the fit is good.
Speaker 3 (45:03):
Well, absolutely. And again, since it’s top of mind, this search we’re doing right now, the client wrote in their, we call it RFD, a request for dialogue, not an RFP. We abhor those things. But the RFD, this woman wrote, we’ve had very unfortunate experiences with some public relations firms in the past. We are now rather jaded, so we will have to be convinced. Well, that was a true expression of both her feelings and their opinion. But interestingly enough, and maybe I should have known better to take it out because a number of agencies said, what do you think some of the agencies, Drew, might’ve said or assumed because of that statement about this client.
Speaker 1 (46:01):
Yeah. They assumed they were going to be difficult to work with,
Speaker 3 (46:03):
Yeah. This is a problem client rather than accept the fact that the PR firm failed, which in fact it turns out was the case. I mean, one, it was a solo practitioner, PR publicist who promised everything, you know, I’ll get your front-page New York Times. Got nothing. So it was all the fault really of the publicist. But many read that to mean a difficult client. And as a result, by the way, they exercised the decision to say, no, thanks.
Speaker 1 (46:42):
Well actually, although in this case, it might’ve been misplaced, I’m happy to hear that they actually said no, because for a long time, over the last decade, as the economy was shaky, anybody with a pulse and a dollar was a good client. So I’m glad to hear that agencies are being more discriminatory in deciding who they want to work with. Even if in that case, it was a bad choice. I’d rather see them make some bad choices than never make a good choice.
Speaker 3 (47:13):
Well, and again, in our process, when an agency is talking to a client and the question is what’s your budget? And by the way, I pre-addressed this with registered clients, because I say to them, what’s your budget? Now there’s a place on our form for them to indicate a budget range that we give them a pulldown, less than a 100, 100-250, 250-500, we’ve got $25 million, et cetera. But if somebody, for instance, chooses 100-250, I’ll say, well, let’s talk more about your budget. And if they start playing cagey with me, I say, look, you can’t do that. If you would do that to an agency, they’re going to run for the hills. You know, they don’t need a client who’s not willing to discuss the reality of what the budget is, could be whatever. So if we try to do the agencies a favor by addressing that rather aggressively upfront.
Speaker 1 (48:13):
Yeah. As you know, that’s an age-old problem for agencies are clients who hold the budget close to the vest. So, I’m sure the agencies are thrilled that you’re doing that. As I knew it would be, this has been a fascinating conversation. And unfortunately, we need to sort of wrap it up. But one of my rules for the podcast Chuck is that I want if somebody will invest their time and listen to you and me talking by the end of the podcast, I want them to be able to have a couple of actionable items that they can go do right now based on the topics. So given that our topic is new business, we’ve talked about a couple of them, put your location on your website and put your people on your website, and make sure you tie names and titles to those pictures, whatever they are. What are, give me another couple things that agency owners can do right now to improve how they present themselves in any part of the new business process.
Speaker 3 (49:08):
Well, you stole my two, but a problem that we have on an ongoing basis, as we reach out to agencies, sending them an invitation, which is the very thing they come to us for, and that’s a new opportunity. We find it extremely difficult to get the invitation in their hands. We send emails, the emails get caught up in a spam folder. We send faxes and I’ve been told many times it’s an obsolete technology. But if you go to the website of some of the largest agencies in the United States on their homepage, you will find their fax number. So what I find is that some of the tiny agencies, for whatever reason, they’re the ones that tell me that faxes are obsolete. There’s a multitude of things. So all I’m saying is that we then send faxes and the faxes are often thrown away by some well-intending,non-new business person at an agency. We telephone to follow up.
Speaker 3 (50:23):
Did you get the invitation? And we get voice messaging. We get poorer voice messaging systems. We get, I’m sorry, but this mailbox is full. How can you be a new business person and have a voice message box that’s full? So what I’m saying is, and I don’t know how to solve the problem, but agencies need to be more reachable. Here’s one more thing. By the way, I’ve suggested this over the years. Often you call an agency, hi, thanks for calling Schwartz Advertising. If you know the extension of the party you’re trying to reach, put that in, and on and on and on. Not if you’d like to reach the production department. How about starting out this way? Thanks for calling Schwartz Advertising. If you’d like to consider working with us, press one and then put all the other crap behind it.
Speaker 3 (51:21):
I’ve had some agencies do that and it’s remarkable. I mean, they’re better at the words than I volunteered, but the point is the first choice is new business, push one. That would be my big contribution. In other words, whether it’s Agency Finder or Google or however they find you, my God, let them get to you. Oh, and here’s another thing, I saw this happening. I called one that has the option, press one. So I press one and I get voicemail. If you’d like to talk to somebody on the new business team, please leave your name and phone number and we’ll get back to you. That should be answered all the time by a person. So that’s my humdinger.
Speaker 1 (52:17):
I know, isn’t it crazy. I mean, agencies hustle and work so hard to get new clients and these are the silly little things they do that get in the way of them being successful. It’s crazy. Alright, Chuck, this has been great. Thank you so much. If the listeners want to track you down if they want to learn more about Agency Finder if they want to reach out and talk to you in some way, what are the best ways for them to contact you? Voicemail?
Speaker 3 (52:44):
First of all, Agency Finder is www.AgencyFinder.com. My email is [email protected] Our main switchboard phone number is (804) 346-1812. And what else? Well, those are the best options, and I’m quite responsive. We are quite responsive to anybody that comes here because everybody that comes here is a new business prospect in some way, shape, or form.
Speaker 1 (53:17):
Yeah. And, you know what? That is the perfect way to end this conversation. Everybody is a new business prospect in one way, shape, or form. So for the love of Pete, be accessible. Thank you, sir. I enjoyed our conversation very much. I appreciate your time.
Speaker 2 (53:32):
That’s all for this episode of Build A Better Agency, brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit AgencyManagementInstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to midsize agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you’ve always dreamed of owning.