Episode 83

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For several years Jake owned a video production agency. His business partner was the brilliant technician and he was the guy who got the agency the work. Jake landed multiple Fortune 500 clients and A-List touring artists by running a dream client campaign.

After leaving the video agency, Jake went out and worked as a digital marketing and web consultant for several years and eventually realized that he was much better at getting the work than he was doing it. At that point, Jake started pairing with other agencies to help them win more clients.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why you need to look at new business as an art form
  • How to get started getting better at new business
  • How to make the most of your time at conferences as it relates to new business
  • How to effectively follow up with contacts you make at conferences
  • How to stay top of mind with people who aren’t ready to buy now
  • Why your prospect list can’t be too big and why you need to stay very personal with them
  • Why strategic partnerships have gotten even more important as agencies become specialists
  • Why you need to carve out at least an hour a day for working on new business (and why it’s a good idea to do it away from the office)
  • Why you need to figure out what your actionable objectives are and then break them down
  • How to get referrals that are exact fits for the kinds of clients you want

 

The Golden Nugget:

“Block out at least an hour a day as a way to put time in working on your own projects.” – @JakeJorgovan Click To Tweet

 

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We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Speaker 1:

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.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McLellan here, and welcome to another episode of Build a Better Agency. As you know, one of my favorite topics, and one of the topics that I believe is most important for agency owners to be thinking about every day is biz dev. So that’s really where we’re going to focus in today’s episode. So my guest today has spent a lot of his career really focusing on that, and we’re going to dig into that. So let me tell you a little bit about Jake Jorgovan. So for many years, Jake owned a video production agency and he had a business partner and it turned out that his business partner was much better at doing the work and Jake by default, became the guy who went out and got them the work.

Along the way, he landed them several fortune 500 clients and really bringing them some great A-list clients that allowed them to really grow the business. Jake decided to leave that agency and then went out and worked to on his own. He’s a digital marketing and web consultant for a few years, but quickly realized that he was not only better at getting the work and doing the work, but he actually enjoyed it more. So at that point, he launched his own business where he now works with other agencies to help them win more clients. So as you can imagine, Jake has all kinds of tricks up his sleeve, and we’re going to dig into those. So Jake, welcome to the show.

Jake Jorgovan:

Thanks for having me on here, Drew.

Drew McLellan:

Glad to have you. Hey, so as you know, many agency owners hate new business. So what is it about it that you love? How did you come to enjoy it as much as you do? Was that an evolution for you or did you always like it that much?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, it’s something for me that … I mean, I quickly realized that it was an absolute necessity and went out there and started learning how to do it better. I think a lot of people look at it as some foreign thing or assume that they’re bad at it, but whenever I got into it, I started reading books like How to Win Friends and Influence People, or I started reading books on sales because I knew that it was essential to growing your business, and when you start actually looking at it as part, kind of an art form like that, it makes it something just kind of enjoyable, and a lot of agencies, they consider themselves, they started off as designers or artists in some sense. So it’s just kind of a new skill that you have to learn, just like anything else

Drew McLellan:

Beyond reading the books, how did you learn the skill? Is it just one of those things that you have to exercise the muscle or are there some things that the listeners can do to sort of do a shortcut in their learning? Because a lot of owners part … I think part of why they don’t like it is because they’re not sure what to do.

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. I mean, I do think that immersing yourself in just some of like the classic sales books is a great place to start and just get you in the right mentality. That is just one thing. I mean sales is … it’s almost like learning design, I would say in a way, where it’s not like there’s just X, Y, Z steps. It’s like, it’s you got to get kind of crafted to get better, start practicing things, learning best practices, but there’s no perfect right or wrong way to do it. I think it’s also just a lot of putting yourself out there, learning how to talk to people, learning how to just do activities that are going to generate conversations, that are going to generate opportunities for you. So it’s just a lot of learning whatever you can and then practicing it on a regular basis as well, which is the really important part to make it a habit.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I think part of it too is the mindset. I think a lot of owners go into it, thinking that they’re trying to convince someone to do something or they’re sort of trying to not take advantage, but they’re trying to lure someone into an activity or whatever, as opposed to every agency has skills and tools and knowledge that can help people grow their business. So, if you think about it that you’re just trying to help somebody grow their business, I think it shifts the pressure.

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, so I mean, it goes back to that old like doctor analogy of, if a doctor came across you and you were sick and he just let you sit there and not do anything about it, that’d be kind of terrible. You’d expect a doctor to do something, to try to help or give you advice or remedies to get better, and it’s the same thing as an agency owner. Our thing is to help basically businesses market themselves better, generate more sales, grow their businesses. So, I mean, that’s when you start to look at sales in that sense as if it’s almost like your duty to actually go out there and sell because you’re going to help these businesses.

If you really believe in what you’re selling and know that you’re going to deliver a great product that helps them in the end, then it doesn’t feel weird anymore. It just feels like you’re taking them on a natural evolution to help them.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So I know one of the techniques that you have a lot of experience in is how to really make the most out of conferences and trade shows. I’m sort of stunned at how many agencies either on behalf of their clients or themselves go to these events and pay a lot of money. Sometimes they have a booth. Sometimes they’re just taking several people, but they have no game plan. They don’t do anything in advance. They don’t do anything afterwards, and they just kind of wander around during this show, maybe they have a list of people they’re hoping to meet, but that’s about as sophisticated as it gets. So how do you recommend that agencies really maximize the time and the investment if they’re going to go to a conference or a show?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, I mean, and so I’ll kind of share like a general process here, and this can be really be used for anything from a small as a meetup event, like locally to a larger conference that you attend, but you’re totally right that most people just show up and they just walk around and hope that they’re going to bump into a great client.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Jake Jorgovan:

So what I’ve found is that if you put legwork in front before the conference, you can find out a ton of information and typically, every conference is different in terms of what they actually list online, but you can research the events, you can often find a lot of attendees or at minimum, you can find out who the speakers are. So what I basically recommend in the campaign that I’ve run with several of my clients is we basically go through everyone we can find we know who’s attending and we just build a hit list of people that we want to connect with while they’re at the conference. Then, with about three weeks leading up to that, we’ll actually start to reach out to them and contact them.

That’s kind of basically like the high level strategy of just building your hit list, reaching out to them and then trying to set up meetings while you’re at the conference. It works wonderfully because you have this kind of built in sense of urgency with setting those meetings, so when normally, you’re trying to reach out with a cold email or something, and someone might ignore you, you actually have this kind of relevant urgent message of saying, “Hey, I’m going to be here on the ground at this conference at this time,” they’ve already blocked out, two or three days to go to this conference as well. So there’s very little objection for them to actually take the time to meet up with you or talk with you for a bit at the conference.

Drew McLellan:

So when you reach out to them, what does that initial contact look like?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. So typically, what I’ll do is put together, and I can actually send you some of these scripts that you can put in the show notes as well here. Typically, I’ll start off with an email subject line that says something like meeting up at, whatever the conference or the event name is. Then, and if they’re a speaker, say something like your presentation on whatever topic, looks really interesting and then try to really just kind of personalize it, whenever you do these outreach emails like this, the more personal you can make it, obviously the better it’ll get. Then, would say something your topic interested me, so I want to reach out about connecting while on the ground at the conference.

I work with so and so, and we do this and since you’re already on the ground, it would be great to connect for a few. Let me know if you’re interested and I look forward to meeting you. Just something short and kind of simple like that, that is personal, shows you did research on them, shows you’re interested in the things that they’re interested in and speaking on. It goes a long way and we’ve gotten meetings with very high level speakers who often we didn’t think would actually take the time to actually get to know you as a result of using this kind of approach.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So let’s say a speaker has agreed to meet with us, what prep do we do before that meeting and what do we hope that meeting looks like?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. So again, that’s going to depend really on, is this person a direct client? Is this a strategic partner or what’s the kind of end goal relationship that you’re trying to come out with here?

Drew McLellan:

So let’s assume that the person could be a client.

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. So say you’ve got the opportunity to meet with someone that could be a client for your advertising agency. Well, before you actually get there to the meeting, you’re going to want to do whatever research and prep you can on them, maybe look at what they’re currently doing for marketing, what their website is, and try to just come up with some thoughts and ideas that you could share with them. Casually, not in like a hard sales pitch, as soon as you meet them, but the idea is to get into a conversation, try to make it natural, ask them a lot of questions, learn about them. Then, uncover maybe what … are they using another agency already?

What are they currently doing as it relates to say, like their online marketing? Do they have an AdWords agency or anything? So uncover everything you can, ask questions first, but then in that whole entire time, you’ve got that kind of, all that research, that background information that you’ve gotten on them and then you can kind of use that to start to steer that conversation in the direction of, “Hey, well maybe we should talk again after this conference.” Maybe it could be a good fit us to help you out. So, it’s not … you’re not trying to make a sale right there on the first meeting.

You’re really trying to build rapport, you’re trying to learn, connect with them and just learn about their problems and if you’re a good fit, and if that works then continue the sales conversation most likely after the conference.

Drew McLellan:

So the goal of that conversation, the outcome goal of that conversation is to have another conversation, right?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s to get there and build that rapport and just get to that next conversation.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So we’ve now chatted with the speaker who could be a potential client. They’ve said … maybe they were non-committal on the next conversation, what’s my follow up after the conference?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, so the follow up after the conference, you want to follow up quickly. If you meet with that person, it’s not even a bad idea to email them. If you’re on Monday and it’s a three day conference, it’s not a bad idea to email them that Monday or Tuesday night. So don’t let that sit for 72 or more hours. Try to get it out within 24 to 48 hours of actually meeting them, to try to get that next … at least get that email thread started about booking that next meeting. So, follow up with them and say, “Hey, it was great talking. Would love to continue our conversation. How does your schedule look next week at so and so times,” or just kind of giving them the option.

Just trying to keep it somewhat casual and if they give you any resistance, then you can really kind of, go into maybe a little more straightforward of saying, “I really think there’s some ways we could help your business out or improve what you’re doing,” but typically try to just keep it casual and just get to that next phone call.

Drew McLellan:

What if at the conversation, it’s clear they have an agency, they love their agency, and so right now the door is not open. How do you follow up with someone like that?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. If there’s someone like that, then the goal is to really just build rapport, leave a good impression in their mind and then kind of keep them in the back burner. Then, they could go onto a campaign like you mentioned with, say, you’re the top … the 25 that we had discussed on the other podcast we did.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Jake Jorgovan:

Just keeping them in kind of an ongoing follow sequence. After that, maybe saying something, “It was great meeting you. It sounds like you’re pretty well set right now, but if you ever need help in the future, would love to work with you,” or if you think there’s opportunity to get them to switch, you can still try to push for a meeting, but typically if there’s not a direct opportunity, I just try to kind of follow up lightly and then, we’ll tell them, maybe I’ll follow up again in a few months and see where things are at, at that point. So nothing too heavy, if it seems like they’re pretty well already said or there’s not a direct opportunity.

Drew McLellan:

Then, how do you recommend … so let’s say we now have a list of 50 people … we’ve done this for a year and we have a list of 50 people who have all said, “No, thanks. Not now.” How do you stay top of mind with those folks when they’re not in the buying mode right now?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, so this is actually a practice I literally did earlier this week. About once a quarter, I have my entire list of just people that are … have either said, “Not right now, they’re on hold. Not interested at this point,” and once a quarter I just go through that list and I try to just reach out to everyone and just start a conversation again of some sort. It’s not, sometimes I’ll be direct and say, “Hey, you mentioned you were working with so and so at this point. I want to see if you were still looking at new options or considering someone new for the upcoming year.” Maybe I’ll send them a blog post, I think could be relevant. Just try to basically just start up a conversation with them again and see if we can get them reengaged.

That’s one that for all the people that are on hold that I don’t think are really prime prospects to buy, just try on at least a quarterly basis to reach out with them, touch them and just keep yourself top of mind.

Drew McLellan:

Are you doing that individually or are you doing that by some sort of mass email?

Jake Jorgovan:

I’ve always been a believer of doing that individually. It’s a good half day effort whenever you … as your list of that actually grows, but it’s just something where I am a firm … I mean, I’ve got a newsletter and have other tools like that, and I’ve always been advocates of that because it does keep you top of mind with a large number of people.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Jake Jorgovan:

In terms of the people you’ve actually met, been on phone calls with, had conversations with where you’ve got notes and actual context on them, those, I just believe you’ve always got enough context to write something slightly personal in those messages. That goes just a long way, as opposed to just sending kind of a mass email.

Drew McLellan:

Which also gets back to the idea that you probably need to have a manageable size list. One of the things I talk to agency owners about all the time is I think one of the reasons why agency owners are so paralyzed at the idea of new business is because it feels so daunting, because they think they have to reach out to 250 people. The reality is if 10% of those 250 people, all of a sudden said, “Yes, I want to buy something from you,” the agency would be hosed because they can’t onboard that many new clients. They can’t serve that many clients. So it really is about understanding the numbers and if your goal is to grow your business, let’s say by 25 or 30% AGI, how many clients is that?

For most agencies that’s going to ideally be two or three clients. So, what does it take to get two or three and really scaling your list appropriately so that you can be more personal and more attentive, and it doesn’t feel like you’re just sort of email bombing them to continue the conversation, right?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, yeah, exactly because I mean … like I said, if you send out the mass emails, you might not get the results, but as you go through that list and as you go through the people that said no or put you on hold, as you go through that, you kind of have the idea of who are the ones that actually I could revive.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Jake Jorgovan:

When you get to those names and you write those emails, you’ll know when you get those responses that, “Okay, that probably wouldn’t have happened if I did a mass email.” It may only be, you go through that entire list of people that have put you on hold and only five to 10 of those are really like good viable opportunities, but if you take time to really personalize those and you’ve revive those conversations and you get one or two clients out of that, then it’s made the whole practice worthwhile.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely. So again, listeners, this is where I will remind you again, that you need to have what I call the sweet spot client filter. So again, you need to have a description that has criteria for who is your best fit client, who are the clients that you can delight every time and who keep coming back for more, and that may be a client size, that may be the industry they’re in. It might be, if you’re their first agency or not. It might be who’s leading the team on their side internally. Are you working with a business owner, a CMO, a team of people in a marketing department for every agency, that list is going to be different.

Who is your best fit client, but without articulating that, and without keeping that top of mind, it’s very difficult to take a list like Jake is talking about and really prune it appropriately, so you can decide where to apply your time and energy. So again go through the effort of creating that profile of the ideal client so that you recognize them when you see them.

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. That’s great advice and it goes a long way just to clarify and make everything a lot simpler when you do that.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely. So what is your philosophy on … so you’ve got these people on the list, they’ve said no for now, but let’s say they are pretty good fit for your … as we call it, the sweet spot client filter. So it would be a good client for you. How long do you stay in touch? How long do you keep nurturing that lead?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, it’s something where I keep people around and I’ve nurtured them for years at a time before actually turning them into customers. It’s not uncommon that someone says no, and because it’s the timing is not right or anything and it literally takes over a year to come around, whenever I had my video agency, we worked in the event industry, which has horribly long sales cycles because events are planned on annual … like annually.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Jake Jorgovan:

Literally, the decision to hire for an event that’s a year away is made about a year before. So it’s like you have to get in a year before the event to even start getting in the pitch process to then close a deal that’s … you’ll probably start working on eight months out from the event, so our sales cycles for that were just continuing to nurture people, continuing stay in front of them. When we had the video agency, one of the things we did that was really effective was my way to stay in touch, was to really just kind of, anytime we launch a new really big project, would reach out again and use that as an excuse to kind of personally email a lot of people on our list.

Did that again in like a personalized way, just to say, “Hey, here’s what we’ve been up to.” It wasn’t through just kind of a mass email blast, but just saying, “Hey, here’s what we’ve been up to. I think this project is cool, would love to work with you on it.” That worked, I guess because it was an interesting project, but that was another just effective way, we used that to follow up and stay in touch with people over, sometimes two years or so before we actually saw business come out of that.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I think of new business as sort of … it’s like investing, right? The dollar cost average, you never know on what day a client is going to get ticked off at their agency or have their main client contacted an agency leave or that the client is going to get fired and go do a new job, and all of a sudden, the boss’s brother-in-law is no longer a factor in what agency they work for. So, I think it is about just staying in touch and staying on their radar because on any given Tuesday, they might be ready, and if they don’t remember you or you haven’t reached out for a while, then you lose the opportunity, but we’ve seen with some of the MI agencies, I mean, literally sometimes that first conversation, bang, you have a client.

Sometimes it’s five or six or eight years later before that person is either in a position or the circumstances are right or whatever, before they’re ready to hire you, but unless … my sort of standard line is you chase after that dream list of clients until they hire you or they get a restraining order, you just stay on it, right, until one of two things happens.

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah. I mean, at our video agency, that was exactly how we got to those fortune 500 clients. We built our list of who our top 30 event planners were, that we wanted to work with, who are our main clients and we just … where we just didn’t stop. We just kept going after them, and we only built relationships. So we got to pitch to probably about six of them, built relationships with two of them, but those two led to some of the biggest projects and biggest clients our agency had won. So yeah, just that dream client approach staying really focused on that small number of perfect clients. If you have a really big client lifetime value, that is an incredible approach to go.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, absolutely. So, you just sort of hinted at another strategy that I know you believe in really strongly, which is sort of the idea of strategic partnerships and having alliances that lead you to clients. So I want to dig into that, but first let’s take a quick break. I get that sometimes you just can’t get on a plane and spend a couple days in a live workshop. So hopefully our online courses are a solution to that. Lots of video, hours and hours of video, a very dense, detailed participants guide and all kinds of help along the way to make sure that you get the learning that you need and apply it immediately to your agency. Right now, we’ve got two courses that are available. We have the agency new business blueprint, and we have the AE bootcamp. So feel free to check those at agencymanagementinstitute.com/ondemandcourses.

All right, everybody, we are back with Jake Jorgovan and we are talking biz dev. So Jake, right before the break, you had sort of talked about how you were … when you were in the video agency, you were aligning with event planners who then led you to big events and big clients. So I know one of the strategies that you really believe in is this whole idea of strategic partnership. So can you kind of tell us a little bit more about that?

Jake Jorgovan:

Yeah, so there’s just … one of the things that I’ve come to see time and time again, especially as more and more agencies are becoming less generalist and more specialist, is that you’ve got a huge opportunity to basically build partnerships with either other agencies or other people that are selling directly into the same types of clients that you are. So, just kind of extend on that story that I was sharing just a second ago before the break, for us, our video agency, we did motion graphics for stage production. So whenever you go out to a stage and they have all the projectors and the LED walls and all the graphics on those, that’s the kind of stuff we designed.

So we built a ton of strategic partnerships, was really a massive way that we did this. Our first, the low hanging strategic partners were the gear companies. The people that provided those projectors and LED walls because they had sales teams out there that would say all to event planners, and then they always needed content in some way, shape or form. So we got pulled in a ton through those kind of partnerships. Eventually, we even started saying, “Okay, how do we get one step closer to the clients? How do we get, actually not being the last one added to this chain?” So, that’s when we started our dream client campaign, focused on event planners, which really were strategic partners for us because they were the middlemen between us and the fortune 500 client.

They were the ones who actually planned the whole event, delegated out the budgets, got everyone, pull all the resources and then planned everything. So we basically went out and just pitched and made ourselves a resource to a few select strategic partners, which were meeting planners and they ended up bringing us in multiple times for very large events that there’s no way we would’ve got in on if we had tried to go direct to the end company.

Drew McLellan:

Once you got in with a big fortune 500 company and you were doing your part of their event, when that introduction came through an event planner, did you then try and cultivate and were you successful at cultivating a relationship directly with the client, so you could get more work or for you, was it sort of one and done kind of work?

Jake Jorgovan:

For us, I’ll be honest that we didn’t … we were not too, able to really cultivate that beyond the events partially because I guess the way we were branded is that we were really focused on the event company. So even when we get into these fortune 500 clients, they’re still looking at us as the video vendor for the live event content. So we did struggle to then kind of level that up and get more work through other departments within that fortune 500, but that’s partially because we had niche down to saying we do video content for live events, which was our focus.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Jake Jorgovan:

So that was, if we had, we’ve been positioned differently, we might have been able to take that differently but they always kind of said, “Okay, you’re the company that’s working with the event planner on this.”

Drew McLellan:

So as you leverage this same strategy now in a more broad context, how do you recommend, so if a … let’s say a media vendor or someone like that is the conduit to that first introduction, how do you recommend agencies begin to cultivate a relationship with the end user outside of the conduit? So, how do they eventually get the middle man out of the middle, I guess is the question I’m asking?

Jake Jorgovan:

I guess the question is, is that always the right thing, because in some ways it’s also could be disrespectful. If you’ve really got a good relationship with the middle man, and they’re bringing you a lot of work, then that can be a great thing. Maybe they’re taking some margin off the top or something, but for instance, one of my clients is a UX design agency and we set up a partnership with a development agency and it’s just consistent ongoing work. That’s just a perfect match between the two of them. So, it’s something where they’re not … he’s not trying to actually go and take the work from the other client that when you d