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 a platform like the ones I’ve had a hand in creating, SellHack and Replyify. Want to know how to do it? Read on.
Here are the 5 steps you can complete today to generate new leads by automating your prospecting with cold emails
1) Start with what you already have.
Your business development team is probably already sending emails, right? Send an email out to your biz dev folks asking for them to reply back (or forward) examples of what they are sending both for the initial cold emails and the follow-ups. Compile these ‘templates’ in a Google doc and rank them qualitatively (copy format) and quantitatively (which ones got opened/replied to).
2) While you are waiting for the replies to come in, make a list of your last ten, twenty, or thirty deals.
Identify the decision-maker and/or internal champion for each of these previous deals. Find them on Linkedin and fill out this doc (P.S. – open the link to the Google doc > then click ‘file’ > ‘make a copy’ and save to your Google drive.)
Now that you’ve got a list, look for patterns. For instance, maybe you have three clients who are director-level at companies with 100 employees or more in the Internet industry. Once you have a pattern or patterns identified, go back to LinkedIn and run a search for directors at companies with 50-200 headcount working in the Internet industry. Too many search results? Refine your search by adding in keywords.
You should be talking to the prospects resulting from this search. But in order to do that, you need an email address, because getting someone to answer the phone is a lot more difficult than it used to be. That’s where the next step comes in.
3) Next it’s time to find those prospects on Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook (or all of them) who are similar to your existing clients and thereby have a much higher likelihood of converting into paid clients.
To build your prospect list and locate and validate email addresses, ask your business development team (or yourself), “What would you do next?” Most likely the response will be something involving a lot of copying/pasting into an excel doc, followed by an exercise in guessing, searching, and verifying the email address.
This will take you 3-5 minutes per prospect. Don’t believe me? Try it and set the timer.
So, if you’re looking to make contact with 500 new prospects per month, you or your team is going to spend, I mean waste 25 hours just gathering information. That’s crazy!
Companies like SellHack, Prospect-Cloud, or Dux Soup can automate this process and quickly and easily help find the email addresses and make the LinkedIn connections you need. Using a company like one of these, those same 500 prospects will take you an hour or two to gather the same data and will only set you back a few dollars per month. It’s a no-brainer.
4) Make the first contact.
Now that you have a curated list of prospects and their email addresses, it’s time to make first contact by sending a cold email. If you completed step 1 of this guide, you should already have a lot of examples of cold emails and follow-ups to reuse or rewrite.
Compile your cold emails and follow-ups and develop your campaign sequence. Use this Google doc if you really want to spend time on organized brainstorming.
Optimal Cold Email Campaign Components
• 5 – 10 emails sent over 21-45 days
• Concise subject lines (try ‘variables’ to add their name to the subject line)
• 3 to 5 sentences (max) per email (consider splitting LONG emails into two)
• Personalize the email with variables
• Don’t say the same thing over and over
• It’s a mix of give and take. (you ‘give’ value & ‘take’ their time)
• Limit images and links
• Clear, low commitment call to action
5) Automate your cold emails.
We’ve all sent cold emails and most of us have made the cardinal sin of cold email by not following up. For those of you who do follow-up, I feel felt your pain.
You can’t send cold emails with Mailchimp, so I used to block off 12-2pm every Tuesday to dig through my inbox looking for emails that needed follow-ups. Even if you’re using templates to copy/paste your emails it’s still a HUGE waste of time.
This is easily fixed with Replyify. How do I know? Because I put together the amazing team who built it.
Replyify connects to your email account and automatically sends out your cold emails and follow-ups. The goal of automation is to make sure the emails don’t look automated and we carefully built the platform to do really smart things like automatically pausing emails for a contact who replies and so much more.
So, take those emails you compiled and/or wrote in step 5 and create your first campaign. Import your contacts directly from SellHack or upload your own list. Review, test, set your campaign live and get back to work.
Don’t worry. Cold email is NOT spam (when it’s done correctly).
The replies will start rolling in. Some folks will be thrilled to hear from you. Others…not so much. Either way these are conversations you never would have had before reading this post and taking action.
Wrapping It All Up
There you have it. An easy way to add an outbound channel fueled by automation to your current agency new business prospecting strategy. It’s pretty easy once you and your get these steps down and understand the process. You’re going to find naysayers, no doubt about it, but sitting around and waiting for referrals to happen isn’t exactly the best, most effective new business development strategy — at least not if you’re focused on agency growth. What can it hurt to give this a try?