My podcast guest Jake Jorgovan from Outbound Creative made a provocative statement. He said: “Block out at least an hour a day, typically in the morning, as a way to put time in working on your own business before you dive into client work.” I can feel many of you twitching already. Not look at your email first thing in the morning? Not fill your mornings with meetings? Not jump like Pavlov’s dog to every ping, text or slack addition? You might even wonder “what does business development do?” It may seem radical but it is one of the many ways that Jake suggests to jumpstart your biz dev efforts. Jake believes that most agency owners hate new business because they’re not sure what to do and feel stuck.
Let Jake and I take you through his simple, no-nonsense approach to growing your business through new business development with:
- 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
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.
To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/jake-jorgovan/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.
If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below:
Table of Contents (Jump Straight to It!)
- Why Jake Loves Everything About New Business
- How Agencies Can Maximize their Time and Investments at Trade Shows
- What the Initial Contact with a Prospect Looks Like
- What the Follow-Up Looks Like with that Prospect
- Why You Need to Understand the Numbers in Your New Business Development Process
- How Long Should You Nurture a Lead for?
- Jake’s Thoughts on Forming Strategic Partnerships
- How to Structure Your Day to Make Time for Working on New Business Development
- Other New Business Development Best Practices
- Two Tasks You Should Be Doing on a Regular Basis
- Immediate Action Steps for Working on New Business Development Every Day
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 us 25+ 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 I believe is most important for agency owners to be thinking about every day is biz dev, and so that’s really what we’re going to focus on in today’s episode.
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. 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 brought them some great A-list clients that allowed them to grow the business.
Jake decided to leave that agency and then went out and worked on his own, as a digital marketing and web consultant for a few years, but quickly realized that he was not only better at getting the work than doing the work, but he actually enjoyed it more. At that point, he launched his own business where he now works for the other agencies to help them win more clients.
As you can imagine, Jake has all kinds of tricks up his sleeve, and we’re going to dig into those. Jake, welcome to the show.
Jake Jorgovan: Thanks for having me on here, Drew.
What Does Business Development Do and Why is Jake a Fan?
Drew McLellan: Glad to have you. Hey, so as you know, many agency owners hate new business development. What is it about it that you love? How did you come to enjoy it as much as you do? And was that an evolution for you or did you always like it that much?
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah, it’s something for me that … I quickly realized that it was an absolute necessity and just 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 it was essential to growing your business. When you start actually looking at it as 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. It’s just a new skill you have to learn, just like anything else.
Drew McLellan: So, beyond reading the books, how did you learn the skill? Is it just one of those things you have to exercise the muscle or are there some things that the listeners can do to do a short-cut in their learning? A lot of owners, I think part of why they don’t like it is because they’re not sure what to do.
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. I do think that immersing yourself in some of the classic sales books is a great place to start and get you in the right mentality. That is just one thing. Sales is almost like learning design, I would say, in a way, where it’s not like there are X/Y/Z steps. You’ve got to get 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 do activities that are going to generate conversations, that are going to generate opportunities for you. 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: 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 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. If you think about it, you’re just trying to help someone grow their business. I think it shifts the pressure.
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. It’s something that goes back to that old 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 terrible. You’d expect a doctor to do something to try to help or give you advice or remedies to get better. 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. 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 actually 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.
How Agencies Can Maximize their Time and Investments at Trade Shows
Drew McLellan: Yeah. Absolutely. 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. 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 the show. Maybe they have a list of people they’re hoping to meet, but that’s about as sophisticated as it gets. 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: I’ll share a good, general process here. This can really be used for anything from as small as a meetup event, like locally, to a larger conference that you attend. 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: What I’ve found is that if you put leg work in up 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 event. You can often find a lot of attendees, or at minimum you can find out who the speakers are. 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. We just build a hit list of people that we want to connect with while they’re at the conference. With about three weeks leading up to that, we’ll actually start to reach out to them and contact them and that’s basically 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 built in sense of urgency with setting those meetings.
Normally you’re trying to reach out with a cold email or something and someone might ignore you, you actually have this 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.
What the Initial Contact with a Prospect Looks Like
Drew McLellan: When you reach out to them, what does that initial contact look like?
Jake Jorgovan: 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, if they’re a speaker, say something like, “Your presentation on whatever topic, looks really interesting.” Try to really just personalize it. Whenever you do these outreach emails, like this, the more personal you can make it, obviously the better it’ll get. Then I would say something like, “Your topic interested me, so I wanted to reach out about connecting while on the ground at the conference. I work with so-and-so and we do this. Since you’re already on the ground, it’d 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 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 meeting 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. 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: Again, that’s going to depend really on, is this person a direct client? Is this a strategic partner? What’s the end-goal relationship that you’re trying to come out with here?
Drew McLellan: Let’s assume that the person could be a client.
Jake Jorgovan: Say you’ve got the opportunity to meet with someone that could be a client for your advertising agency. 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.
Try to come up with some thoughts and ideas that you could share with them, casually, not in a hard sales pitch as soon as you meet them. The idea is to get into a conversation, try to make it natural, ask them a lot of questions, learn about them. Then uncover are they using another agency already? What are they currently doing as it relates to their online marketing? Do they have Ad-words agency or anything?
Uncover everything you can, ask questions first. Then, in that whole entire time, you’ve got all that research, that background information that you’ve gotten on them and then you can use that to steer that conversation in the direction of, “Hey, maybe we should talk again after this conference. Maybe it could be a good fit for us to help you out.”
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 learn about their problems and if you’re a good fit. If that works, then continue the sales conversation, most likely after the conference.
Drew McLellan: The goal of that conversation, the outcome goal of that conversation is to have another conversation, right?
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. Exactly. It’s to get there and build that rapport and get to that next conversation.
What the Follow-Up Looks Like with that Prospect
Drew McLellan: Okay. We’ve now chatted with the speaker who could be a potential client. Maybe they were non-committal on the next conversation, what’s my follow-up after the conference?
Jake Jorgovan: 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. 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 at least get that email thread started about booking that next meeting. 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?” Just giving them the option, trying to keep it somewhat casual. If they give you any resistance, you can really go into a little more straight-forward of saying, “I really think there’s some ways we can help your business out or improve what you’re doing.” Typically, just try to keep it casual and 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 right now the door is not open? How do you follow-up with someone like that?
Jake Jorgovan: If there’s someone like that, the goal is to just build rapport. Leave a good impression in their mind and then keep them in the back burner. Then they could go on to campaign, like you mentioned. Say you’re the top 25 that we had discussed on the other podcast we did. Just keeping them in an ongoing follow-up sequence. After that, maybe saying something like, “It was great meeting you. 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 follow-up lightly and then will tell them maybe I’ll follow-up again in a few months and see where things are at at that point. Nothing too heavy, if it seems like they’re pretty well set or there’s not a direct opportunity.
Drew McLellan: Then, how do you recommend, let’s say we now have a list of 50, we’ve done this for a year, we now 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: This is a practice I did earlier this week, about once a quarter, I have my entire list of people that have either said “not right now”, they’re on hold, not interested at this point. Once a quarter, I go through that list and I try to reach out to everyone and start a conversation again, of some sort. Sometimes I’ll be direct and say, “Hey, you mentioned you were working with so-and-so at this point, wanted 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 start up a conversation with them again and see if we can get them re-engaged. That’s one, 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 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, as your list of that actually grows, but it’s something I’m a firm … I’ve got a newsletter and have other tools like that, I’ve always been advocates of that because it does keep you top of mind with a large number of people. In terms of the people that 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 a long way, as opposed to sending a mass email.
Why You Need to Understand the Numbers in Your New Business Development Process
Drew McLellan: Which also gets back to the idea that you probably need to have a manageable sized 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 development, is because it’s 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. It really is about understanding the numbers.
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. What does it take to get two or three? Scaling your list appropriately so that you can be more personal and more attentive and it doesn’t feel like you’re email-bombing them, to continue the conversation, right?
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. Exactly. Like I said, if you send out the mass emails, you might not get the results, but as you go through that list and you go through those 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 ten of those are really good, viable opportunities. If you take the time to really personalize those and you revive those conversations and you get one or two clients out of that, then it’s made the whole practice worthwhile.
Drew McLellan: Absolutely. Again, listeners, this is where I will remind you again that you need to have what I call the ‘sweet spot client filters’. 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 keeps coming back for more? 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 leaving the team on their side internally? Are you working with a business owner? A CEO? A team of people in a marketing department? For every agency, that list is going to be different. Who is your best fit client? 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. Again, go through the effort of creating that profile of the ideal client, so that you recognize them when you see them.
Jake Jorgovan: Yep. That’s great advice and it goes a long way, just to clarify and make everything a lot simpler when you do that.
How Long Should You Nurture a Lead for?
Drew McLellan: Absolutely. What is your philosophy on … You’ve got these people on the list, they’ve said no for now, but let’s say they are a pretty good fit for your ‘sweet spot client filter’, 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: It’s something where I … 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 because the timing’s 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 annually. Literally the decision to hire for an event that’s a year away is made about a year before. You have to get in a year before the event to even start getting in the pitch process to then close a deal that you’ll probably start working on eight months out from the event. Our sales cycles for that we’re just continuing to nurture people, continuing to 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, anytime we launched a really big project, would reach out again and use that as an excuse to personally email a lot of people on our list.
Did that again, in a personalized way, just to say “Hey, here’s what we’ve been up to.” It wasn’t through a mass email blast, but it was saying, “Hey, here’s what we’ve been up to. If you think this project’s cool, would love to work with you on it.” It worked, I guess, because it was an interesting project, but that was another 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: I think of new business as sort of like investing, right? The dollar cost average. You never know on what day a client’s going to get ticked off at their agency or have their main client contact at an agency leave or that the client is going to get fired and go to 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. I think it is about just staying in touch and staying in their radar, because on any given Tuesday, they might be ready. If they don’t remember you or you haven’t reached out for awhile, then you lose the opportunity. We’ve seen, with some of the AMI agencies, 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. My 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. 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 were our main clients and we just didn’t stop. We just kept going after them. We only built relationships. We got to pitch to probably 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. Yeah. 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. You just sort of hinted at, another strategy I know you believe in really strongly, which is the idea of strategic partnerships and having alliances that lead you to clients. I want to dig into that. First, let’s take a quick break.
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Jake’s Thoughts on Forming Strategic Partnerships
Drew McLellan: Alright everyone, we are back with Jake Jorgovan and we are talking business development.
Jake, right before the break, you had 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. I know one of the strategies that you really believe in is this whole idea of strategic partnership. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jake Jorgovan: One of the things that I’ve come to see time and time again, especially as more and more agencies are becoming less generalists and more specialists, 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. Just to 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 productions. 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. 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 sell to event planners and they always needed content in some way, shape or form. We got pulled in a ton through those kind of partnerships.
Eventually we even started saying, how do we get one step closer to the clients? How do we get not being the last one added to this chain? 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, pulled all the resources and planned everything. We basically went out and 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 have gotten 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 to cultivate and were you successful at cultivating, a relationship directly with the client so you could get more work? For you, was it sort of one and done kind of work?
Jake Jorgovan: For us, I’ll be honest, we were not too able to really cultivate that beyond the event, partially because the way we were branded was 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. We did struggle to then level that up and get more work through other departments within that Fortune 500, but that’s partially because we had niched down to saying we did video content for live events, which was our focus. Had we been positioned differently, we might have been able to take that differently, but they always said, “Okay, you’re the company that’s working with the event planner on this.”
Drew McLellan: As you leverage this same strategy now, in a more broad context, how do you recommend … 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? 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? In some ways, it 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. For instance, one of my clients is UX Design Agency and we set up a partnership with a development agency. It’s just consistent, on-going work that’s just a perfect match between the two of them. It’s something where he’s not trying to go and take the work from the other client, when you do that it kind of-
Drew McLellan: Yeah. I know.
Jake Jorgovan: It kills the partnership.
Drew McLellan: Absolutely. I’m not suggesting that. What I’m saying is, a lot of agencies will look, for example, at a media rep and think because they have contacts with all the marketing people, that they may be able to introduce them in. At some point in time, in that case, you have to have a relationship directly with the client. You can’t run the account through the media rep. I don’t disagree.
When a partner brings you in to do part of a project that they have the lead on, I totally agree with you. It’s suicidal to try and sidestep them and go to the client direct and it’s not only disrespectful, it’s bad karma. It’s just bad ethics. It’s not moral to do that. If someone brings you in as part of a team, you don’t kill the carrier who brought you in.
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. I’d say on the point of, say you have a media rep or someone like that who has access to tons of your target clients, the thing that I look at there is, how could you maybe set up a structured partnership? Could it be something where you give them a referral commission? Sometime people are very comfortable with that and okay with doing that. Otherwise maybe they send you a referral and it’s not even asked for on a commission basis. If they do that, then you send them the nicest thank you gift in the world, to show your appreciation and you keep trying to nurture that relationship with them.
One practice that I’ve done is within my CRM and my pipeline, I have a separate section for strategic partners. Anytime I start a relationship with a strategic partner, I will put them in here in three categories of the relationship has started, they’ve attempted to make a referral to me, and then that referral has closed and turned into business. It’s one of those things where that’s another thing you can do and put your time toward, just to nurture those relationships with strategic partners. Figure out how can you create value for them. Can you introduce them to someone else that’s going to be beneficial to them? Try to nurture that. If you keep the touch points up, eventually whenever they see opportunity, you’re top of mind and they’ll send a referral over your way.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. What CRM do you use? Do you have a belief that one is better than the other or is it more about the mechanic than the tool?
Jake Jorgovan: Definitely believe it’s more about the mechanic than the tool, but if you don’t have a tool, I don’t think that’s good, or if you don’t use your tool. I use Pipedrive, which is one that I personally love. It’s very similar to Trello, if anyone’s used Trello. Trello and Pipedrive are the two that I recommend a lot of people start with for agencies, because they’re very visual and they’re set up for companies that aren’t doing a massive volume of deals. They’ve got the deal rotting features in there, where you can see if someone hasn’t been touched in a week or so. It’s a very simple CRM that works very well for if you’re not doing a high volume of deals, which is where most agency business is.
How to Structure Your Day to Make Time for Working on New Business Development
Drew McLellan: Yeah. Absolutely. Probably should be, right? Again, we’re not chasing after 500 new clients. When you’re working with a client and you’re helping them structure their new business practice, how do you help them weave that into their daily activity?
As you know, you and I’ve talked before, I’m a firm believer that new business development is something that should be done every day and you don’t follow the feast and famine method, you don’t only do it when the big client is threatening to quit, but that you have some new business activity happening every day.
How do you help agency owners or business owners, because I know you do this across sectors, how do you help whoever the person is that’s responsible for the biz dev, how do you help them structure their day so this gets done?
Jake Jorgovan: The biggest thing that I try to tell most people is to try to block out at least an hour a day, typically in the morning, as a way to just put time in on working on your own projects before you dive into client work. A lot of people struggle with that. To really set that time aside or to make that work, or maybe their schedule’s too crazy, what I typically recommend, try to get an hour a day in and try to give yourself some specific tasks or goals that you can accomplish each week. Nothing too big, don’t aim real huge. If you needed to write the new copy for your homepage or your website or whatever it is, get the new case study online, make one small goal each week. If you can make progress on those through daily effort and getting some bigger chunks done each week, over time that adds up to a ton of results. If you do a lot of activity, over time that eventually starts to turn into more opportunities and more deals.
Drew McLellan: It reminds me a little bit of all of the exercise equipment commercials. 20 minutes, three times a week. They chunk it up to little bits and make the point that if you do a little bit on a regular basis, it adds up to big results. I think you’re right. I think in the biz dev world, it’s about chipping away at it every day, for a period of time. Even if you can only squeak in 30 minutes a day, that’s two and a half hours every week, which is way more than most agencies are doing today.
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. Whenever I hear people say they don’t have the time or they can’t fit that in or anything, I just say, “You’ve got to figure out a way.” I can’t remember the laws, in a four hour work week or whatever, but if you put that in there in the beginning of the day, then by the end of the day, you’re going to figure out how to get all your client work done because you’ve got people hounding at your door. If you want to put your own stuff to the end of the day, then you’ll just be like, that can wait ‘til tomorrow. When you put it in there in the beginning of the day, it forces you to be more efficient through the rest of your day, because you’ve now cut an hour out of your client work, so when you get into your client work you figure out a way to get it done in those seven hours you have left.
Drew McLellan: I also think, agency life is all about running from fire to fire to fire. The only way to actually be intentional about work that’s not on fire is to do it before you show up at the fire station. Right? The minute you’re at the fire station, the bell is ringing and you’re putting on your gear and hopping on the truck. For a lot of agency owners, I think, I’m curious what you think about it.
I think carving out that first hour and doing it from home or from a coffee shop or somewhere, I know people are twitching as I say this, but before you check email, before you check into the office, if you invest that hour from home or somewhere other than the office, the minute an owner walks in the door at the office, there’s a trail of ducklings following after that person, with questions. That’s how their day goes.
Jake Jorgovan: That’s totally true. Whatever your system is, if you can’t go into the office because you’re going to get interrupted by other people, then do it from a coffee shop or from home.
Drew McLellan: Or your car, right?
Jake Jorgovan: I work from home, so I don’t have that. I just don’t check the email. I do not. I refuse to check email before 10 A.M.
Drew McLellan: Has anyone died because you’ve done that? Literally, has there been a fatality in your life because you did not check email before 10 A.M.?
Jake Jorgovan: No. Never once. If I’m really worried that there’s the fire that could be the thing, then I’ll maybe do the quick check to see if I need to jump on the fire and then I put my hour in. I just check it and I promise not to look at anything else and then I hop back. You can do that, if you’re really that scared. For the most part, just don’t look at the email.
Drew McLellan: One of the techniques that I teach both owners and account execs is the idea of turning the auto-processing of your email off, so that you have to manually hit ‘check my email’ and that you only do it four or five times a day, that you don’t have it constantly pinging you in the corner of your laptop and/or your tablet or however you’re getting email these days.
Exactly what you’re saying, that you don’t check it first thing in the morning, that you get the big hairy thing that you’ve got to get done, done before you allow everybody else’s emergencies to impact you.
What I remind them is, if it’s really an emergency, and you don’t answer an email, your clients or your co-workers or your family all know how to escalate to calling your cell phone or sending you a text or calling someone else in the office and saying, “Hey, is Drew around? I really need to talk to him.” Whatever. They can escalate it. You don’t have to assume that everything in your inbox is urgent.
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. That is totally true. It’s not the end of the world. It will be okay.
Other Ways to Answer What Does Business Development Do for You
Drew McLellan: Yeah. Right. Beyond carving out that time in the morning, what other things do you recommend are best practices around the daily activity of new business development?
Jake Jorgovan: One of the other things that I’m really an advocate of is, I’m writing a book on this process right now, that as an agency owner, you need to figure out what your actual objectives are. What is it that you are really trying to achieve? Are you trying to get to five clients on retainer? 10 clients on retainer?
Drew McLellan: You crazy kid. Are you talking measurable goals?
Jake Jorgovan: Yes. I am talking measurable goals.
Drew McLellan: Wow.
Jake Jorgovan: I’m a huge advocate of having that and then “What is your annual goal?” Or your bigger milestone? Then breaking that down into “What is something that you can achieve in the next three months?” Whether that’s adding one more client or two more clients to that. Then just looking at what are the exact projects or actions or things that you’re going to do to get you toward that short term milestone? I think when people say, “I want to have 10 new clients by the end of the year.” Right now they only have four, that seems like a really big gap to me.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. It’s daunting.
Jake Jorgovan: When your goal is, “Okay, I want to get to six.” That’s two new clients. You can say, “Okay, I’m going to try going out to these events.” Or “I’m going to start trying to send a few emails to new prospects in the morning or do my follow-ups with people.” You can start to look at what are the individual tactics that you’re going to try to use to get to that next milestone? Once you get there, you keep leveling that up until you get to your bigger picture goal.
Drew McLellan: I think it’s the aversion of how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Right? When the task is daunting, we have to break it down into manageable, bite-size pieces, otherwise we get paralyzed.
I think that’s where a lot of agency owners feel like they can’t carve out enough time to get five new clients, rather than do anything, they just get stuck and they go to what’s comfortable, which is email and client work and walking through the office and all the things that they’re naturally good at and it feels good. It feels like they’ve accomplished something.
One of the things i think is evil about email is when you have an inbox of let’s say 100 emails and you plow through all of those and you answer them all, that’s a great feeling of accomplishment, even though that is probably not the best use of your time. It’s like this weird, false happy, because you were super busy and you also, by the way, got to avoid the stuff you didn’t want to do, but really there’s not a lot of ROI in it.
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. That totally makes sense. That’s why whenever I think about the business development stuff, like we said, shutting down the email, the way I think helps to look at that … The other thing I think people do is when they do try to do that biz dev, they start getting overwhelmed because they have these million projects. They want to redo their website, they want to launch this outreach campaign, they want to start that podcast or get that blog post up. They’re trying to do a million things at once. That’s the other side to it. People either aren’t do anything or they’re trying to do everything and accomplishing nothing. The advice I typically have is to try to use, what are two ongoing tactics that you’re focusing on right now? Maybe it’s starting to put up blogs on your site and going out to meet-up events or networking events once or twice a week. Then you have one project tactic.
The project tactic is probably the biggest thing, I’m only working on one internal project at a time. Don’t jump from case studies to website to getting this new video done or whatever this is. There’s so many projects that people are always starting and never finishing. It’s the recurring story of every agency I talk to, where they’ve got four internal marketing projects in works but nothing gets launched. Just do one at a time.
Drew McLellan: They’re not going to chase after new business until all of it’s done. My point to them is, “You’ve gotten clients with the crappy website you have now. Just start the process. Yes. You need a new website, by all means, start that. You don’t stall your new business activity until that’s done or until the video, the blogging, the website, and the testimonials and the case studies are all done. You don’t wait for perfect. You just go.”
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. Exactly. Focus on the project of whatever the biggest priority thing is that you need to get done, get that done first and then add the others. Don’t try everything at once, because it’s never going to get done. Yeah. Great advice.
Two Tasks You Should Be Doing on a Regular Basis
Drew McLellan: What are two ongoing things that you’re going to do on a regular basis? Again, it might be blogging and it might be attending key industry conferences or meet-ups and then taking on one sort of project or bigger rock thing at a time and getting that done and then taking on the next one. Anything else that you recommend as people start to structure this out for themselves?
Jake Jorgovan: The other thing that I recommend also, is that people just experiment and test a lot. Whenever you’re trying network events, a lot of people will say, “I’m going to make it my annual goal and I’m going to go to more events this year and meet people because that’s how I met, got other clients in the past.” You’ll burn out if you keep trying to do one tactic forever. Try to experiment, try new things out. Maybe you go to a bunch of networking events this month and then next month maybe you’re starting to try to do blogging or you’re trying to do cold email outreach to new prospects. Kind of do a handful of different experiments, see what works and then double-down on what works and start to kill off the things that don’t work. Eventually, look back and one of the most useful to have is to look back and see “How did I get all of my past clients?”
Drew McLellan: Absolutely.
Jake Jorgovan: Look at what you did and start to try to replicate those activities. There’s so many people that did something and they don’t realize or think about it, but a lot of their work’s coming from one key area and they’re not doing that activity anymore, just because they’ve moved on to new things that they’re trying.
Drew McLellan: One of my favorite new business tactics, which I’m stunned that every agency doesn’t do much of is, once you defined exactly who your sweet spot client is, share that list with your current clients, and say, “Here’s why you’re a great client, because you have an internal marketing department and we’re not your first agency and you really celebrate great creative work.” Whatever the criteria is for you. Some of the criteria, like pays your bills on time or whatever, you may want to take some of those out. Sharing with your current clients, “Here’s what we love about you. Man, we would love to have someone else like you.” Every agency loves to get business by referral. I think that’s a fine tactic, but you want to direct the referrals. You want to be able to channel those referrals so that you’re not getting referrals that you’re like, “I sort of have to take this, because my big client asked me to, but these guys are really a bad fit for us or they don’t pay well or they’ve got a puny budget.” Or whatever the problem is, if you define who you’re looking for, it’s much easier for them to help you find them.
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. People are always scared because they’re like, “What if they don’t send me other business?” Thing is, you don’t want that other business. Ultimately, the more specific you are, the more likely it is that that person’s going to pop into their mind, instead of that wrong fit.
Drew McLellan: Absolutely.
Jake Jorgovan: Even though they might have sent you two referrals instead of one, if you get that one good one, that’s what counts.
Drew McLellan: Again, we’re circling back around, you don’t need twelve new clients. You want the exact right fit ones as often as you can, because you only have room for a few.
Jake Jorgovan: Yeah. Exactly.
Immediate Action Steps for Working on New Business Development Every Day
Drew McLellan: Yep. As I knew it would be, this has been a great conversation. If folks are fired up and those owners who have been neglecting their new business efforts, are ready to do something tomorrow, what would you recommend are some first steps that they take to get their new business efforts back on track, if perhaps they’re coming out of the holidays or they have never really exercised this muscle before? What are some basic first steps that they should do to get on the path?
Jake Jorgovan: I’d say the first steps for people that aren’t doing anything in this is I always