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Why can’t I find a successful salesperson for my agency?

Almost every agency owner I know wishes they didn’t have to do sales and wants to hire it out to an employee. I hear this every day because what we do is hard to sell.  99 out of 100 salespeople that an agency hires will not sell more than their initial salary and are usually fired within the first year.  To be a successful agency salesperson, you have to understand not the WHAT of our work but the WHY of our work.  How do we really add value, increase sales etc.  You also need to have super high level business conversations and most people can’t do that unless they have been a CMO, business owner, etc.  If you don’t have the real life experience, it’s tough to know how to start or carry the conversation. People default to the “what keeps you up at night” BS because they can’t actually dig in and talk the talk. That level of business acumen is not easy to come by.  The few successful salespeople inside agencies have at least 2-3 of these factors: The agency is a wonder bread factory (they have a very narrow focus of deliverables AND clientele so it’s easy to learn the nuances, because there aren’t that many) The agency has a narrow niche/niches so the sales person does not have to understand too many industries or verticals The agency is truly creating thought leadership content on a consistent basis so they can claim an authority position on their niche/niches. The sales person has already sold a high ticket ($25K and above) item/services to the same industry (has contacts and context) The sales person was a very successful account executive within your agency who [...]

By |March 19th, 2021|

How Agencies Can Execute on Strategic Selling

“I hate selling.” I hear that so often from agency owners and agency leaders. I especially hear it from junior agency staffers. I think the key to solving this problem is moving away from “I hate selling” and moving toward “I love helping others succeed.” My years of agency experience have taught me that the most successful agencies have a specific mindset. They have embraced the art of being the very best at understanding their clients and have a deep desire to make their lives easier and better. The agency business is a relationship business; it’s about putting the needs of your client front and center. Your success is based on their success. Their good days are your good days; and conversely, their bad days are your bad days. So, if agency success is about building great relationships, I would pose to you that for agencies, executing on strategic selling is very much like dating. If that’s the case, then imagine thinking of the prospect the same way you think about a prospective date - that person you’ve wanted to date for oh, so long. As you get ready to make the ask… what’s first? The answer: the first thing is understanding the prospect. Strategic Selling Requires Understanding the Prospect First and foremost, remember that you must think about this from their viewpoint – the viewpoint of the prospect. What’s on her mind and how has the landscape changed since the last time she looked for agency services? Budget and headcount pressures are enormous in most companies today There are heightened expectations that marketing supports sales – it’s no longer enough to simply produce great creative Sales and revenue are typically the top marketing success [...]

By |August 28th, 2018|

How to End the ‘Feast or Famine’ New Business Cycle

Making mistakes is completely normal and expected. However, the issue becomes more serious when the source of those mistakes is the agency's overarching strategy. If this is flawed, then the business is at risk. One of these common issues is what I call the “feast or famine” mentality. It happens when you hunt down as much new business as you can find, then get so busy servicing clients that you stop seeking 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. As new business activity peters out, you start to realize that some clients aren’t happy or have left you completely. So you get the blog back on track, produce webinars, prioritize conferences, and go back the other way -- to the extreme. This back and forth between extremes simply isn’t stable for three reasons: Desperation leads to bad choices. When you’re in famine mode, you have to take whatever business you can get. You need money, so you take any client willing to work with you. Working with someone when it’s a bad fit never ends well. Bad experiences hurt your long game. When you try to make it work with clients who don’t naturally fit, they leave with a bad taste in their mouths. Too many bad encounters with your agency will scare clients away who may have been good fits. It makes your team miserable. Dramatic ebbs and flows in business are stressful on your staff. Not only does working with bad clients drag down morale, but the frequent famine times also make your company a risky place to work. If people think their jobs will be more secure elsewhere, [...]

By |July 14th, 2017|

Do your AEs bristle at the word sales?

Be honest agency owner, you know that your account executive team is great. But sometimes they struggle when it comes to actual sales. Enter our account executive sales training workshop. 67% of an agency's new business revenue comes from existing clients (on average).  The people who are (or sadly -- are not) going to bring in those additional dollars are your account executive team.  They interact with their clients every day.  They propose new work, they know when the client has hit a barrier (and maybe needs some marketing help to leap over it) and they drive that client's activity. Sounds like sales to me.  But if your AEs think and behave more like relationship managers, you're not alone.  When surveyed, agency owners had these frustrations about the people on their account team: Sometimes they behave like they work for the client, not the agency They don't know how to listen for problems we can help solve They don't understand the business of owning or running a business They don't think new business or sales within our existing clients They let the client lead too much Sound familiar?  That's why we developed our Account Service Advanced Training workshop.  We spend two days teaching GOOD account service people how to really help grow their agency's AGI, reputation, new business (both from existing clients and brand new) and their network.  We talk numbers.  We talk strategy.  And we talk sales. When the participants leave the executive sales training workshop, sales is no longer a dirty or scary word.  They come back fired up and excited to stretch their wings. But don't take our word for it.  Here's what some past participants have had to say: “My AE [...]

By |September 27th, 2012|

Do you know your agency’s sales life cycle?

Every business has a sales life cycle and communications agencies (whether you're an ad agency, digital, PR, etc.) are no exception.  It used to be pretty straightforward -- you either chased after a prospect or met them at some networking event or got a referral but the face to face happened early on.  Today, an agency's sales cycle is 70+% done before the prospect ever reaches and even has an email interaction with the agency. Every agency needs to map out their sales funnel, understanding that the first three-quarters of it happens prior to contact.  The visual shown here is my agency's (MMG) sales funnel. (If you click here, you can see it full sized). The left side of our sales life cycle shows the prospect's relationship to the agency at the time.  It flows from I've never heard of you to I'm a customer.  The question is how do you move a potential client through the funnel when you don't even know they're out there? You use your content marketing, social media, SEO and active prospecting to capture their fleeting attention and then you begin to serve up content that demonstrates that your expertise could help them achieve their business goals. Once they're paying attention to your smarts, you also need to give them a chance to get to know your agency's culture, values and what it's like to do business with you. Now, they start to like you. That's usually when they actually initiate contact and you have a shot at actively pursuing their account. As you can see by the bottom of the diagram -- you shouldn't leave current clients out of the equation. You need to be re-earning their business every [...]

By |September 24th, 2012|
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