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Christian Banach

As VP, Group Account Director, Christian leads Catapult's team of Sales Directors and is focused on helping generate new business opportunities for our advertising and marketing agency clients.

The 3 R’s of Sales Email Personalization at Scale for Agency New Business

Are your business development reps spending the right amount of time on the right targets for agency new business? At many agencies, those tasked with prospecting struggle with how much time to put into email personalization and which prospects are worth the effort. They may also struggle with where to go to get the best information about their prospects.

You need a clear process that focuses your time where it’s most likely to pay off. Sales reps need access to resources and data that will enable their personalization efforts to have the best chance of success.

What can you gain? By personalizing with relevant information and sharing valuable content, your outreach will receive higher open rates, more responses, and position your agency as an expert.

Here’s a closer look at the Three R’s to email personalization at scale.

Step 1: Rank Your Prospects

As seen in this recent piece, ranking your prospects is a crucial element to any agency new business strategy. Ranking lets you focus your efforts proportionally.

Ranking puts your prospects into tiers based on their fit and value to your agency. Each tier gets a different level of research and personalization. Here’s a common approach to tiers:

  • Tier 1: Your top ten to twenty most ideal targets accounts for fit and value land here.
  • Tier 2: You have a right to win these prospects, but their fit or value is not as strong as the Tier 1 group.
  • Tier 3: These prospects generally fall at the edges of your ideal client profile.

Once your ranking work is completed, you have a much clearer perspective on what work needs to be done for which prospects. Your biz dev team will thrive with the clarity and context.

Step 2: Research Your Prospects

Knowing what to research can be challenging, but this can be broken into two components: Information and Resources.

The information you’re looking for are the news, characteristics, or connections that allow you to demonstrate your relevance to the prospect. Here are a few examples of insights to consider in your research:

  • Trigger Events– Look for recent happenings with the company or prospect that often bring about change. Examples include a decision-maker who’s on the move, a successful funding round, acquisition, new office opening or relocation, awards, new business win, industry recognition, or a promotion.
  • Market Dynamics– These factors consider conditions and forces that are at play for the company, including size, growth, maturity, disruption, competitors.
  • Company– Corporate fundamentals are important, so be sure to know the size, revenue, profitability, growth, market share, stock performance, outlook, history, and job postings.
  • People– This category goes beyond leadership profiles, but also looks at the stability tenure, attitudes and preferences of those leaders, along with corporate culture and values.
  • Strategy– What is the company’s business model? Look at strategic initiatives, priorities, successes, and failures.
  • Agency Relationships– Which agencies, if any, does the company have relationships? What are the type, size, and locations of those agencies? Are they working with independent or networked agencies? How long have they had these relationships?

There’s another set of information that’s much more personal for the sales rep and the company:

  • Connections– Know if there are any links from your company into theirs via past employment, association memberships or mutual LinkedIn connections.
  • History– Understand the complete interaction history with the prospect, including emails, meetings, deals and outcomes.
  • Door Openers– Look at personal connections such as university ties, shared hometowns, conference attendance. The connection may be a common one (fan of the same sports teams or bands) or an uncommon one that’s dug up.

This information, when used strategically, will help get the email read and lead to more responses. The question is where to get that information. Here are the resources to consider:

  • Official
  • Company website
  • Annual reports
  • SEC filings
  • Analyst reports
  • Investor relations
  • Press releases
  • Product and technical literature
  • Speeches and conferences
  • Media
  • Blog posts
  • Industry publications and websites
  • Financial press
  • Influencers and bloggers
  • Social media
  • WinmoEdge, which provides industry insights and news

Now that you have your information secured, it’s time to make the pitch.

Step 3: Write to Your Prospects

Armed with your information, the writing needs to be done for each tier. Here are some suggestions:

Tier 1You need to approach this writing with the mindset that it’s your right to the prospect’s business and your job to figure out how to get it. The content should be highly personalized and creative so it grabs your prospect’s attention.

Meet with your team and create an account plan that examines their business, identifies ways you can impact their company and what content (case study, white paper, video, work examples) will be most relevant.

It’s interesting to note that Hubspot research confirms that email personalization leads to better response rates … to a point. After more than 50 percent of the template is changed, the impact on response rates is negligible. As such, group prospects around a shared attribute so templates can be created as starting points.

Tier 2: Personalization still matters in this tier, but you don’t need to do as much, generally spending about 5 minutes per account. Each of these prospects also receives personalization but not to the same degree as Tier 1 prospects. Less research is sufficient and should be embedded at the beginning and end of the email with the remainder of content templated.

A little can go a long way. A SalesLoft study of 6 million sales emails showed that personalizing just 20 percent of email content increased open rates by more than 40 percent and reply rates by 112 percent compared to those with no email personalization.

Tier 3: You will not provide the same level of personalization but use templated content that’s customized to the prospect’s industry, persona or problem/challenge the industry typically faces. Include basic email personalization such as name and company. This catch-all approach does not require or merit high touch and personalization.

Maximizing Agency New Business with Email Personalization

Whatever the level of personalization or customization, every touchpoint should add value back to the prospect. The content you share needs to be so valuable that a dream client should want to pay for it. It needs to play off of the challenges you identify and tie them to your agency’s unique point of view.

The Three R’s (Rank, Research, Write) help to optimize your prospecting by providing the appropriate levels of research, personalization, and scale. Your prospecting volume will be balanced, and your work focused proportionally. What’s more, your sales reps will feel empowered and be more successful.

The Three R’s are powerful for your agency not just in the business they’ll help you win. They also empower your business development reps to create compelling, relevant messages. By scaling your email personalization, your agency gets more meetings, more opportunities and more business won from your most sought-after clients.

How Fishing Can Help Win Agency New Business

Are you finding lead generation to be a frustrating part of your work as an agency principal? If so, you’re not alone. Many agencies are struggling to find enough leads to fill their pipelines. What’s more, many of those leads – especially from inbound marketing efforts – are unqualified. Agency new business is critical to success, yet without strategic approaches, your bottom line suffers.

For you and your business development team, the lack of leads and the poor quality of those leads can result in desperation and frustration. If there’s no consistent methodology and strategy in place for outbound sales leads, your agency will flounder.

However, agencies can take a cue from a time-honored activity to develop a new, balanced and strategic tack when it comes to outbound: fishing.

For centuries, fishermen have understood that you need different types of approaches to be successful. Each method has its advantages and challenges. There’s no one best method for landing a catch. In some cases, hand-to-hand spearfishing is the smart choice. At other times, trawling – casting a big net – will get you the best results.

To be a successful fisherman, you need to identify the types of fish, quantities of fish, and approaches that are going to secure the haul you’re seeking. You need to know which method works best and create a plan for the fish you want to bring in. The same is true in your approach to agency new business.

Using Account-Based Sales for Agency New Business

Your sales reps are likely struggling to find the balance between scale and personalization in their outbound approaches. Do they spend their time crafting highly personalized emails or should they rely on more general templated emails that can reach more prospects?

Account-Based Sales (ABS) takes a strategic approach to how your team spends their time. It’s a sophisticated, strategic approach to agency new business that uses a combination of outbound activities that include personalized, multi-channel, and multi-threaded messages.

ABS creates a layered approach to your fishing activities that results in reps spending their time on activities that are designed to target different types of accounts.

At its heart, ABS uses tiers that each have their own outreach strategy. Not all accounts are the same. Organizing them into tiers, based on how valuable and viable they are to your firm, helps determine how much research to do and how much personalization each account gets.

Build the Tiers that Drive Agency New Business Success

When fishing, you need to understand the type of catch you’re after, how long you’ll be out on the water and how much gear you have to get the job done. You’ll also need to base your decisions on how successful you’ve been in catching a particular kind of fish in the past and, finally, how much attention and commitment you have to the type of fishing you’ve decided to take on.

Ranking your accounts is very similar. To determine how many accounts you want to target for each tier within your ABS strategy, you need to have a clear understanding of the following:

  • Your expected deal sizes
  • The length of the sales cycle
  • Your available sales resources
  • Your current level of engagement with significant prospects
  • The intensiveness of your account-based strategy

Here is a closer look at the tiers you should be using for your agency business development.

Tier 1: Highly Personalized

Your most ideal target prospects belong in this tier. These are the accounts where the opportunity is greatest, and you have a strong right to win the business.

Think of tackling these accounts like spearfishing, which uses sophisticated diving equipment and is often favored for fishermen wanting to zero in on a particular species. Spearfishing is usually most effective in clear water that makes the targets easy to see and follow. It also takes patience, specialized training and equipment, and deep knowledge of the species you’re after.

In ABS, Tier 1 accounts are often considered a “market of one,” and require deep research and planning. With clear insights about the target’s business and needs, your interactions can be personalized and customized for the account and, ideally, the person being approached.

Tier 2: Personalized

While requiring a lighter approach to research than Tier 1 accounts, the goal is still to ensure that each outreach is personalized or customized. This is the tier where most of your prospects will fall, where you have a right to win the account.

With a Tier 2 approach, sales reps spend time researching ‘3 things in 3 minutes,’ where they find facts or insights about the industry, company, persona or contact. Sales reps then use those data points in a 10/80/10 approach to emails (10 percent personalization in opening, 80 percent templated content, and 10 percent closing personalization).

Rod-and-reel fishing, known as angling, uses the same approach. Sports fishermen try to find the hook that can be attached to a line and baited in an attempt to lure fish. All these tools are controlled by the fishing rod and reel (akin to the lightly personalized research and emails) that add more line as necessary. While you may not know what kind of fish you’ll catch, you’ll catch more of them than spearfishing with less personalization.

Tier 3: Customized

When fishermen want to cast the widest net, they call it trawling. Boats pull large nets (trawls) through the water. Dragging these nets lets a fishing vessel catch a large number of fish quickly. However, there’s not as much art as in rod-and-reel or spearfishing. You don’t know what you’re going to get and you’re likely to entangle some sea turtles and spare tires along the way.

In Tier 3, the messaging is templated and targeted to the industry or persona. It’s a catch-all approach to see what’s out there. These may be possible clients in the same or similar category as your ideal prospects, but you have less of a right to win the business.

Cast a wide net and see what gets caught. While this may unearth some potentially good clients, it is not typically where you will catch a prize fish and thus not an area where you want to spend much time.

The Impact of ABS on Agency New Business

ABS is all about optimization. You’ll be applying an appropriate level of personalization to the accounts that will have the most impact on your agency. Your sales reps will be able to spend the right time on the right accounts at an appropriate level of engagement.

Your fishing for new business requires the use of multiple techniques to find the right range of accounts, discover what works best, and make adjustments accordingly. Doing so will give you a healthy balance of the types and quality of new accounts.

ABS is a strategic approach that will lead to more clarity of the work that needs to be done, better systems and processes for approaching outbound work, and more confidence and success throughout the agency.

The next step is to plan for your next outbound round. Rank your target prospects and place them into the right tiers. That work will help guide what messages are personalized and customized for each potential account. Decide what fish you’re going for and use the right gear to haul ’em in.

Your Agency Needs to Adopt This New Business Tool Immediately

Your agency’s new business program needs a repeatable, scalable, and importantly, personalized, prospecting process to keep the pipeline full of meetings with dream clients. Without the right sales tools, your outbound efforts will not reach their full potential.

One new sales tool to emerge over the last few years is the sales engagement platform. While SaaS companies have been early adopters of these platforms, agencies have been laggards. If your agency is serious about its business development, it will invest in this tool. I believe it is the third leg of the tech stack stool along with a CRM and list provider.

What is a sales engagement platform? Think of it as a marketing automation program built for sales, designed to reach prospects more efficiently, while gathering data that can be used to optimize outreach. It allows you to create workflows and sync with your CRM and email. When used correctly, it makes you faster and your cold emails more effective at making connections with prospects.

Missing with Mass Email

Sales engagement platforms replace the tired strategy of mass email, which is largely ineffective in reaching senior-level decision-makers.

Why?

Firewalls and spam blockers make it difficult to even get a mass email into the inbox of a prospect. The sheer volume of email that most senior leaders receive compounds the issue. Marketers can spot a mass marketing email in their inbox and often delete without even opening. To get their attention, you need highly personalized messages that are sent on a one-on-one basis to a targeted prospect list, not through a mass email provider.

Without a sales engagement platform, you’re apt to use multiple sales tools: email, a spreadsheet program, your CRM, calendar program and tracking plugins. There are complicated and error-prone data pulls and merges.

The process is cumbersome and difficult to scale, track and follow-up on leads. The lack of integration means that you have few insights, if any, including basics such as whether your prospect even opened your mail.

If you’re going to get more meetings with dream clients, you need a better solution.

Transformation through Integration and Data

At Catapult New Business, I was skeptical when the sales engagement platform was introduced. “Great. Another sales tool to learn,” I thought. “Is this really going to help me?’

I had been in a slump and was juggling multiple agency clients. I gave it a shot.

From Day One, I was a believer. I immediately saw my outreach volume increase. Email opens, clicks and replies skyrocketed and I had better insights into what was working and what wasn’t. The platform helped me develop good prospecting habits that led to consistent and predictable results.

Top Features for Sales Development Platforms

These are the top 7 features in a sales development platform that I find most useful and impactful.

  1. Create Multi-Touch / Multi-Channel Sales Cadences
    The platform should allow you to orchestrate a strategic targeted sales correspondence plan, injected with personalization. The sales cadences can be deployed to create multichannel touch point models catered to your buyer personas. Plan in advance the number of emails and phone calls each prospect will receive and at what intervals. With these preset activities baked into the platform, you’ll never miss reaching out to your prospects. These communication sequences optimize opportunity to engage each prospect for that persona’s pain points and patterns.
  2. Real, Human Email from Any Platform
    You’ll want integration with your agency’s email provider which ensures greater deliverability. Your emails will be sent from you, one to one, and carry your agency’s domain.
  3. Real-Time Alerts
    Get real-time alerts on every prospect action, from email opens to clicks to replies (some even include website tracking). Look for IP geo-location features and browser type detection so you not only understand when they’re opening your message but where and how it’s being read. A live feed feature will let you monitor activity and respond faster.
  4. Automated Activity Logging
    The best platforms will automatically capture activity, including email responses and successful or unsuccessful calls, and populate the activity in your CRM. Your reps will not have to undertake mundane manual entries. Instead, they can focus on personalization and increasing the volume of outreach. You want reps focused on selling, not data entry.
  5. Personalized Email Automation
    Whether you’re sending 1, 10, or 100 emails, you want the capability to customize email templates to create hyper-personalized emails. Which templates are the best? Through the platforms built-in analytics, you’ll have the insights to better understand which get the highest open, click and reply rates.
  6. Email Scheduling
    To be most effective, you need the ability to schedule emails for future delivery, based on the expected availability of your dream clients. Each prospect’s location is identified in the sales tool, providing the ability to schedule emails to be delivered at the time of your choosing based on the prospect’s time zone.
  7. Analytics
    Your sales activity generates a remarkable amount of data. Your sales engagement platform should report on email, template and cadence analytics (open, click and reply rates). The built-in analytics should also help pinpoint the best days of the week and local times that are most effective for engagement. The platform should also have A/B testing capabilities to help you decide which templates perform best.

How to Get Started with the Sales Tool

SalesLoftOutreach, and Inside Sales Box are among the top three sales engagement platforms on the market. Ask for a demo and experiment with each provider, being sure to zero in on each platform’s capabilities from the list above.

Making an Impact

Once you secure and implement a sales engagement platform, you’re apt to feel more control, which will lead to a more predictable pipeline. The sales tool will increase your outreach volume while making it more efficient and effective. Prospecting activity will be better organized and will generate more meetings with your dream clients, leading to more agency revenue

Does Your Agency’s Thought Leadership Pass this Test?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content marketing and thought leadership continue to be hot buzzwords. But, the market is flooded with blogs, white papers and infographics. Is any of this leading to new business for agencies?

It’s impossible to keep up with all of the webinar invitations, trend reports and industry news. With so much content out there today, yours needs to do more than simply demonstrate that you’re “smart.”

Consider this maxim: Your thought leadership should be so valuable to your dream client, that they’d pay for it. If it’s not, it shouldn’t be out there.

The only difference between $1 and $100 is the message on the paper.

To capture and hold the attention of your dream clients, your content needs to share new insights from your agency’s unique point of view. Agencies with this content strategy are dramatically more likely to breakthrough, get meetings and win more new business.

Standing Out in a Content Crowd

The overuse of thought leadership as a marketing tool has created a real challenge for driving agency new business. Today, everyone is publishing and distributing content.

With such a strong belief in the need for content, agencies are falling into a trap. They’re regurgitating material that was already done … and often done well … by a competitor. What’s needed to stand out among thousands of agencies is to be a true thought leader, not a thought follower.

For agency new business, the challenge is figuring out how to stand out from among thousands of agencies.

Here is a scenario playing out among agency principals today:

We’re great at what we do, but we’re struggling to get that message in front of our dream clients.

Our emails and calls are going unanswered. Our website traffic hasn’t moved. We need more meetings, and we need them fast.

We’re producing thought leadership, but it’s not resulting in meetings or new business. We thought content marketing would lead to more inbound leads, but it’s merely been a few nibbles from unqualified prospects.

Why are we spending all this time and money on the creation and distribution of thought leadership if we’re not getting any results? It’s frustrating. It isn’t worth it unless we start getting a better return.

If we don’t start winning business, we might not make payroll, may need to downsize the staff or, even worse, close the agency. At a minimum, the outcome could be embarrassing. At worse, it could be a disaster.

Thought Leadership or Thought Follower?

Playing it safe does nothing to differentiate or create a meaningful competitive advantage.

The data backs it up. According to Forrester Research, 82 percent of buyers have viewed at least five pieces of content from a winning vendor. Among buyers, 74 percent select the sales rep that demonstrated insight and brought value.

Look at it from the buyer’s perspective. There’s lots of content written by experienced, smart and insightful experts. There’s a lot less time to consume it and react to it. Reading content that’s not truly insightful is underwhelming and feels like time wasted.

It’s no longer good enough to just have content. The successful agency’s thought leadership must provide new insight from a unique point of view.

That POV needs to be through a brand-driven lens through which all communications – particularly content – is delivered. The POV must reinforce the agency’s story in the marketplace and through its thought leadership. An agency’s content strategy has to align with its brand strategy. It needs to provide a roadmap for creating thought leadership that others are not providing.

Sharing new insights from your agency’s point of view is what differentiates between thought leadership and thought followship.

Avoiding the ‘Me Too’

New business is essential for economic viability of agencies. For professional services firms, thought leadership is one of the most powerful approaches to new business.

Yet content often fails to deliver. Why?

  • A lack of understanding about the intended audience
  • Failure to distribute content to the desired audience
  • Content lacks value via new insight from a unique POV.

Content that reproduces from another thought leader means the agency is saying “me too” instead of “me first.” It hinders an agency’s ability to differentiate or be seen as an authority.

That said, there is a place for calculated re-purposing, but only if it offers new interpretations, better insights and stronger solutions.

A Case Study

While working at Catapult, a client believed it was doing everything right. Experts within the agency were writing industry-specific content regularly. The website was robust. There was a targeted list of prospects, a CRM, marketing automation and people, including me, picking up the phone and sending emails.

But the thought leadership was not moving the needle. The few responses often were, “Thanks for sharing, no questions,” “Not interested” or “Appreciate you sending, but we’re already doing much of this.”

It became clear the content wasn’t adding enough value to their dream clients. The thought leadership was not sharing new insights from the agency’s POV.

While the agency had experts and a unique POV, in the haste to produce quantity, the content lost quality and value.

After some soul searching the agency started producing less content, but going deeper and sharing new insights from a point of differentiation.

Almost immediately, the dynamics changed. Dream clients were eager to meet and new business was soon thereafter won.

Are You Really a Thought Leader?

Evaluate your content to decide whether it’s thought leadership. Does it meet the following?

Trait #1: It provides true insight.

Your content should add to what’s in the public domain. It needs to enrich an understanding and influence behavior. Does your content help people see things differently, provide new solutions, or find new opportunities?

Trait #2: It reframes.

Thought leadership gives the audience something to think about. It helps readers learn, seek information, and challenge accepted presumptions. It embraces new approaches. It shows your agency’s unique point of view.

Trait #3: It’s credible.

Thought leadership content needs validation. There needs to be evidence about how it was discovered, who discovered it and whether it’s been independently verified. Insights today can have short lifespans, so you need to confirm that the insights remain relevant.

Trait #4: It’s forward-looking.

Thought leadership must look forward. Good thought leadership does more than inform. It frames an idea, provides foresight and is bold. That notion can be risky because it means taking a stand and pronouncing that stand. But that’s the difference between leading and following.

What Happens Next

If your agency takes a bold approach to thought leadership, you’ll see results. You’ll feel back in control. Confident. It will lead to more meetings. And the dynamics of your meetings will change. Instead of selling, you’ll be teaching. You’ll be viewed as the expert that you are. You’ll close more business with your dream clients.

Does your marketing content pass the test? Before you publish your next thought leadership, honestly ask yourself, if you didn’t already have this information, would you have paid for it?

5 Essentials of an Effective Voicemail for Agency New Business

One overlooked business development skill is: leaving a voicemail. Without effective voicemails, you’re going to get fewer callbacks, fewer email responses, and fewer meetings.

Without a steady stream of meetings, your agency’s new business program will suffer. When the pipeline dries, it leads to less-predictable revenue and an increasing reliance on the unpredictable referral.

As an agency principal, this lack of predictability can cause other problems, as you find yourself on defense diagnosing problems rather than on offense winning new business from dream clients.

Exercise in Futility

At one point in my career, I was leaving hundreds of voicemails each week for CMOs, VPs, brand managers and marketing directors. The results? Zero callbacks.

I was discouraged. I even thought I would stop leaving voicemails altogether.

Then I got one. A terrible voicemail from a sales rep.

It was long. It felt impersonal and random. I had no idea who they were or why they wanted to talk to me. I thought to myself, “Why would I even think about calling this person back?”

I realized the voicemail I received was just like the babble I had been leaving my prospects.

A New Approach to Voicemail Leads to Better Results

What do you want your agency’s voicemails to do? There are three key takeaways—these are related to your positioning—prospects must walk away with after listening to your voicemail:

  • Who you are
  • Why you’re contacting them
  • What value you bring

Research shows that the most effective voicemails are 30 seconds or less. How do you get all of this across in 30-seconds? By focusing only on critical information that’s delivered in a specific order and prompts your dream client to action.

That bad voicemail I received? I took it apart and reverse-engineered it.

Doing so led me to develop 5 essential elements you need in your voicemails to get callbacks and meetings.

  1. Greeting
  2. Event Trigger
  3. WIIFM
  4. Action
  5. Valediction

Here’s a closer look at the five essential elements and how to use them to craft a great voicemail.

  1. Greeting

State the prospect’s first name, your name, your agency’s name and, critically, the type of agency you are. Be clear about this last point. Like it or not, the prospect will be putting you in a “box,” so you might as well make sure they put you in the right one.

  1. Event Trigger

The Trigger lets a prospect know why you’re contacting them, and why now. It gives the prospect context and relevant reason for your call.

Relevance is key here and is framed by the pre-call research you’ve done about the industry, company and prospect. Here is where you let the prospect know that you did your homework, by sharing relevant information that is salient to the prospect.

Timeliness is important. Consider tying in recent events, news or insights, such as their CEO’s statement during an earnings call, a quote by the prospect in a trade journal or a report by an industry analyst.

  1. WIIFM

WIIFM answers the “what value you bring” question. It introduces the value and why that value might be of interest to the prospect.

How do you accomplish this? By stating how you can help a prospect by offering immediate and clear value.

For the prospect, it also answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Demonstrating this value can take several forms, including:

  • Sharing proprietary insights that are relevant to the prospect
  • Showing results your agency achieved with a similar client
  • Offering a case study that shows how you’ve solved a challenge the prospect is facing

Let’s look a little closer at value. Remember, at this point, you are not selling agency services. You’re offering to provide value.

What will the prospect find valuable in a sea of generic cold-call voicemails? A partner who can have a thoughtful, helpful and solutions-focused conversation about a challenge.

Focus on the value you add to the prospect’s business. You want to express your expertise, insights and solutions for the prospect’s pain point. Show how you will make his or her life easier.

  1. Action

What you ask for in the call is important. This voicemail is not trying to close a deal; it’s trying to start one.

Here are tips for two types of calls to action you can seek in your voicemail. Keep in mind, your message should have only one intended action.

  1. A Callback. Don’t ask for a meeting, yet. Ask for a callback to discuss the value you have offered to provide.
  2. Drive to Email. Let the voicemail act as a humanizing touch point to an email you are sending. In a cluttered inbox, this voicemail will help your email stand out. The email can provide more details and ask for the call or a meeting.
  1. Valediction

Since birth, our names have been tied to our existences. We are our names. When people say our name, we feel recognized and noticed.

Throughout the voicemail, use the prospect’s name often, including at the beginning, the middle and here at the end. People pay attention when their name is mentioned. Remember, you want your voicemail to be personalized, and that means the prospect’s name, too.

Make sure to give your name and your agency’s name again. And if your action is a callback, leave your phone number – twice.

Getting Started

With a good voicemail that follows these five essentials, you’ll see better results. This is the format I follow on every voicemail I leave and it’s led to millions of dollars of new business wins over my sales career.

Be sure you do not include “salesy” language or agency buzzwords. Build in strategic silent pauses and vary the tempo of your delivery.

Make sure you have the right equipment and preparation. Be hydrated and have a clear throat before calling. Invest in a good headset. Be careful with your accent and phrasing.

Practice and speak with authority, knowing you have made a quick and powerful impact with valuable insights, structured in the right way, to land more business from dream clients.

Better voicemails will lead to more meetings and more closed new business. Your time will be spent in the right place—on offense—and revenue will be more predictable … and grow.

It’s Okay To Be Different: Positioning Your Agency to Stand Out from Competitors

It’s OK to be different.  When it comes to your agency’s new business program, differentiated positioning is the foundation.

Given the near-demise of the Agency of Record concept, differentiation has never been more critical. Today, clients work with a network of agencies they can draw on, assigning work on a project-by-project basis that plays to strengths. Singular relationships (and the retainers agencies long enjoyed) are practically extinct.

One of the first things I’m usually asked when I first speak with prospects is, “What makes you different from my current agencies?”

If you can’t articulate concisely and clearly what you do, for whom you do it and how, your agency new business program is dead in the water.

 

Standing Out in the Crowd

Today, you really need to stand out. According to Ibis World, there are more than 66,000 advertising agencies in the United States. Most of these agencies look and sound the same. Their pitches also look and sound the same:

  • Full service
  • Collaborative
  • Wide range of experience
  • Committed to our clients
  • Customize our services
  • Results driven
  • Our clients are our partners

If you see phrases like “wide range” or “full service” in a brand statement, it’s usually a sign the agency has been unable or unwilling to name what it stands for.

Economists would call the market for agencies “perfectly competitive,” with low barriers to entry and products and services that are all too easy to copy.

Too many agencies are fearful that a narrow focus feels small. Consequently, they are unwilling to plant a stake in the ground that says: “This is what we stand for” because they fear missing out on business.

Firms compensate by saying their work is better than that at other firms, and that that’s what makes them different.But simply being better isn’t different. Only different is different.

 

Positioning Creates Value for Potential Clients

Your firm exists to create value for clients. Positioning is how you articulate that value to clients. Brands sell themselves based on the perceived value, not the costs. But the ever-popular refrain, “We’re creative” is not a credible statement for value-creation.

Positioning is the way to approach prospecting strategy. That means focusing your firm not on a wide approach but on specific markets where you can create uncontested value. Think of this space as the “blue ocean” where no one else is sailing. With today’s multi-agency model, clients want best-of-breed agencies. Think of it this way. If your child was experiencing an irregular heartbeat, would you feel better taking them to a general practitioner or would you seek out a cardiac specialist?

Today’s most interesting and powerful brands are at the edges because they’re doing different things and doing them differently. It may feel like common sense to play in the middle, but it’s actually the least desirable place to be. Safe doesn’t cut it.

 

Placing the Value Proposition

Your value proposition for agency new business should sit at the crossroads of relevance and differentiation.

Your work needs to be highly relevant to your dream client to meet a need, whether it’s a certain audience, a platform, a style, a technology, or an approach. You can then establish your position within that nuanced space and show how your agency is different than all the others.

For your agency to be profitable, you need to position yourself not just for where the profits are, but for where the profits will be. Your value proposition will produce the most profit when you select a place on the value chain where the offerings are still scarce and underdeveloped.

For an agency used to being a generalist, this isn’t always easy. Positioning means deciding not only what business you’re in, but what business you’re not in.

If you’re still skeptical about the value of positioning, consider the impact it makes in three critical areas:

  • Sales Advantage. By choosing when and where to compete, you gain a real advantage in those sectors. You’ll win more often.
  • Price Premium. Positioned as a true expert in certain spaces means you can charge more for the privilege of working with you.
  • Control. Positioning gives the agency more ability to guide the engagement. Clients are buying the expertise as much as if not more than the service.

Finding the Position

What differentiates an agency from the competition?

Not personality. Not process. Not price.

Expertise.

It is expertise and expertise alone that will set an agency apart in a meaningful way. Expertise allows the agency to interact with clients and prospects from a position of power and knowledge.

How do you determine that expertise? Begin by asking yourself these questions. The answers to these questions will help create a position statement that should concisely articulate the following:

What do we do?

  • What are we selling?
  • Where are we excellent?
  • What are our outcomes?
  • Where are we best in class?

Who do we it for?

  • Audience types
  • Clients
  • Industries
  • Who is our ideal client?

How do we do it?

  • Attitudes
  • Philosophies or point of view

Why do we it?

  • Purpose (Ask if your purpose transcends money.)
  • What motivates us

It’s important at this stage to focus on substance first and style later. Don’t fall into the trap of worrying about “how to say it.”

 

Showing Results

Services that can command the absolute highest prices are those that the client could never duplicate, no matter how much time and money is thrown at the issue. That’s where differentiation is powerful.

With a clear strategy that makes it obvious that you stand for something, not everything, you’ll stop chasing business and start having business chase you.

You’ll find staff more energized with a more resonant articulation of what makes the agency unique. Their pitches and presentations will be more compelling, delivered with more confidence and conviction.

By playing to these strengths, you’ll see a stronger win ratio. This differentiation will also help align your sales and marketing in a unified approach to themes, messaging and consistency.

 

Where to Start

Before you begin taking the steps outlined here, it is wise to take step back … way back … and take a good hard look at your current positioning. Ask yourself the following:

  • Does your value proposition feel authentic?
  • Does it make your agency innately and intensely appealing?
  • Does it have strong barriers to entry?
  • Is it hard to find an exact substitute?
  • Does it result in fewer competitors?
  • Can you charge higher prices?
  • Does it make your sales cycle shorter and less expensive?
  • Have you created a new category?

If you answer yes to all those questions, congratulations. My bet is the answer to most is no. That’s the litmus test that a new approach to positioning that emphasizes differentiation is the right path to take. That differentiation will make all the difference. And it’s okay.

5 Tips for Quickly Building a Targeted Prospect List

You’ve written a great introduction email and have prepared an inspiring cold-call pitch, but how do you actually get in touch with and make contact with the prospect? Calling the company’s switchboard or filling out their website “contact us” form are not efficient or effective ways to connect with senior marketing decision-makers for new business for your agency.

All too often, companies require sales reps to try to track down their prospect’s contact information on their own. If the contact data is ever even found, it is often inaccurate and incomplete. This process eats up the seller’s time and limits their sales potential. But there’s a better way.

Top agencies subscribe to database services that provide accurate, direct contact information on prospects. They build targeted lists and supplement this data with their own due diligence. This process results in richer information that is relevant, current and provides insights that can be used in prospecting email and call messaging.

Below are five important steps to build a scalable, repeatable and efficient prospecting process. Following each step of these steps on a consistent basis will result in thorough and targeted prospect lists:

1. Get A Good Database Provider

There are number of database providers available online, such as Winmo, that offer vetted and current prospect contact information for ad agencies, marketing firms and creative agencies. These sophisticated database and intelligence services often provide much more than contact information. They also can offer company financial data, agency relationships and recent news articles to help you better identify your best prospects.

When selecting a database provider, it is important to find one that employs teams of researchers to validate and refresh the data on a regular basis, at least every 3-6 months. It’s also important that the company specializes in advertising and marketing agencies so the prospects align with your target audience.

2. Focus On A Vertical

As a consultant and sales director at Catapult New Business, I pull prospect data lists on behalf of agencies multiple times each week. I typically begin by selecting a target business vertical, such as insurance companies. By being narrowly focused, the outbound messaging can be similar across all companies within the vertical, leading to more efficiency in your outreach program. Top sellers will focus on 1-3 verticals per quarter, depending on the final size of the prospect lists.

3. Identify the Best-Fit Companies

Once the vertical is selected, the company list can be narrowed by such criteria as revenue, media spend and location. By targeting only the companies that fit your buyer persona, you’re able to laser-focus sales efforts to the best-suited companies. Although the database provider I use has extensive lists of companies, I also review top business rankings lists within that vertical to ensure that I have all relevant companies included on my list.

When researching each company to determine if it fits our buyer persona, I take notes on the challenges the company is facing. These insights are later converted into talking points for email and phone outreach. If I am unable to identify challenges that we can realistically solve, I believe I have no valid reason to reach out to the prospect and remove them from the company list.

4. Identify the Best-Fit Contacts

Once I have narrowed the list down to the top 10-20 companies, I use the database to find the most relevant contacts within the companies, based on job function and rank.

Who the right contacts are will vary depending on your agency’s services. For example, a social media agency surely will want to connect with a social media director. However a branding agency likely would not.

I like to focus on C-suite, VP and director-level marketing professionals, but depending on your agency, you may also target manager-level contacts. What’s important is that you’re only targeting decision-makers or influencers. I focus on finding about 10 contacts per company, depending on the size of the prospect company and your agency’s specialty.

At this point, I download the information from the database provider into an Excel or CSV file to upload to a CRM program such as Salesforce.

But the work is not over.

5. Uncover Even More Best-Fit Contacts

Unearthing information on LinkedIn is a powerful way to gain even more contacts. By reviewing the LinkedIn profile of each contact, you can confirm that the employee is still with the company and remains in the appropriate role.

LinkedIn is also useful for mining additional contacts in the company. By reviewing the “People Also Viewed” box on a contact’s LinkedIn profile, you may find additional relevant prospects you have not found previously.

During this process I also make notes of mutual contacts, past employers, links to presentations, schools attended or other points of connection that I will use in my outreach to that contact.

You will need the email address information for these contacts found outside of the database. You can solve this by looking at the email naming conventions of the other contacts in the company; 90 percent of the time the naming convention will hold for the missing prospects. If all else fails, there are a number of online tools available to help find alternative email suggestions.

Lastly I will scour Google reading financial statements, press releases and trade articles for mentions of other relevant contacts at the companies.

Key Takeaways

Your prospect data list is the most important part in agency new business outreach. If you do not have a relevant and accurate list of prospects and an efficient way to get this data, even the best messaging will fail. If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, did it really fall? Using a database platform makes this scalable so business development reps can spend more time on outreach and less time trying to track down contact information. Following each step on a consistent basis will lay the critical foundation for an effective outreach program.


Author Bio

Christian Banach is an advertising agency new business consultant and sales director at Catapult New Business. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The Best Days & Times to Send Sales Emails to Prospects

You’ve targeted your ideal prospect and written a personalized and compelling email – but to win new business from senior marketing decision makers you need the prospect to open and reply to your message.

The day and time your email is sent has a major impact on your success. Several studies confirm the best days and times to send emails, but these have primarily focused on B2C emails and have used only open rates to make their recommendations.

This 2014 Yesware study of 500,000 emails, on the other hand, explicitly measures B2B sales emails and bases day and time recommendations on response rates.

Best Day to Send a Cold Email

Many people believe that Mondays are better days to send sales emails since prospects are back in the office. Fridays are believed to be poor, since many decision makers are thought to be on the golf course or at their beach house.

Yesware’s research says otherwise and found replies to be equal across each weekday. This is great news for sales reps that have been cramming their outreach into four weekdays.

As a consultant and sales director at Catapult New Business, I set up sales cadences with six email touch points. The first four messages and the sixth (and final message) are sent on weekdays.

But, I experiment with the fifth message and send it on a weekend. Absurd? This same Yesware study found that weekend emails are 10% more likely to be opened over weekday emails, likely because 80% fewer marketing emails are sent on weekends.

Best Time of Day to Send a Cold Email

Does time of day matter when sending out cold sales emails? Absolutely. The aforementioned Yesware study found that the best times to send cold emails were:

• early mornings (between 6 and 7 a.m.)
• evenings (around 8 p.m.)

Reply rates during these times were around 45%.

I have a two-pronged outreach approach that includes both emails and phone calls. Many people wait to check their voicemails until right before heading home from the office. So I send the voicemail follow up email around 8 p.m., giving the prospect more time to check and hear the voice message I left. When it comes to introduction emails, (ones not following up a voicemail) I send in the early morning.

Keep in mind that each situation is different; if you’re not receiving responses from morning and evening emails, try after-lunch and even later evening emails. Because many senior decision makers tend to work very early or very late, it’s not uncommon for them to respond outside of “regular” hours.

Useful Tools for Scheduling Emails

Good news: Sending emails at specific times does not mean getting up super early or staying up late. Today’s sales development platforms and tools allow you to schedule your emails in advance.

SalesLoft is an excellent example of a program that gives you the ability to set up a multi-touch sales cadence and schedule your emails to go out at specifically designated times.

The added benefit of using such a platform is that you can send your emails at optimal times based on your prospect’s time zone.

Measuring Your Success

An email campaign, like any other campaign, demands careful measurement of results to determine what’s working and what’s not. When looking at results, however, do so in terms of your reply rate—not the number of people whom simply open your emails.

Unfortunately, open rates can be quite misleading. Your tracking tool might record an open when your prospect hasn’t actually opened the message and vice versa.

A better way to measure your outreach success is to use your replies as the metric. To calculate, take the total number of positive replies and divide by the total number of messages sent. Keep in mind; a 50% open rate with a 1% reply rate will lead to fewer opportunities than a 5% open rate with a 10% reply rate.

Key Takeaways

As you can see, there’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to writing a sales email and deciding when to send it for the best chances of receiving a response. But you can increase your chances for success by:

• Experimenting with “off hour” weekday and weekend emails
• Using tools like SalesLoft to set up a sales cadence and schedule your emails; and
• Measuring success by tracking replies – not opens

These three tactics will help determine areas for improvement and change your sales email strategy as needed. After all, no two prospects are going to be exactly the same.


Author Bio

Christian Banach is an advertising agency new business consultant and sales director at Catapult New Business. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Building Blocks of an Effective Cold Sales Email

Despite all the attention around inbound marketing, outbound sales emails remain one of the most effective tools for complex business transactions, including selling marketing services.

A report from The Radicati Group, Inc. finds that the average business professional receives 88 emails per day. So how does an agency new business person break through and get noticed in a crowded inbox?

I send hundreds of cold sales emails each week as a consultant and sales director at Catapult New Business, and I’ve developed a format that will make your messages stand out and get more responses from senior marketing decision makers.

Paragraph 1 — Entice With a Question

The first line of the cold sales email is the most important. With many email programs including a preview of the message, it’s imperative that the first line pique the prospect’s interest. It needs to be relevant and personal.

An effective way to gain attention is to open your message by asking one or two questions about the challenges the prospect’s business faces. These questions should center on problems that your agency is uniquely qualified to solve.

Research the company, their industry and the prospect to identify these pain points. Then ask yourself: What changes are affecting their business? What is the impact of these issues are on their business? Why are they important to solve?

Always personalize the salutation with the prospect’s name and reference the company’s name. Although the entire message should not read like a generic copy-and-pasted template, this is especially true of the first paragraph.

Example:

Rick,

Considering your acquisition of Zeus Financial, is First Primary Bank facing challenges integrating customer experiences or looking to build even more profitable relationships with customers?

Paragraph 2 — Demonstrate Value

You’ve identified key problems. Now offer to solve them.

Be clear that you are not sending them an email looking to set up a generic capabilities call. Senior decision makers are too busy. Instead, inform them specifically of what you can offer and how you might be able to help. Compel them to get to know your agency better by offering solutions to problems that you already understand.

Remember this is about them, not you.

Agency business development consultant and author Peter Levitan says, “Give them something of value in return. In most cases, this might be a serious insight or a creative solution.”

While you may not yet have a full grasp of the nuances of their business, you’ve demonstrated that you’ve done your homework and understand the likely issues your prospect faces. You have a point of view and a viable answer to the questions you’ve already posed.

Example:

If you’re struggling with either one, or both, I’d like to share two insights that we’ve uncovered about the banking industry and how they might be impacting you.

Paragraph 3 — Demonstrate Capability

You’ve asked the right question and hinted at the answers you have. But who are you, anyway?

The third paragraph will demonstrate your bona fides. This is where you show what you’ve done.

Show the prospect the proof that you’ve done this before. To build trust and credibility, mention clients that you’ve worked with that are within the same business category or faced similar challenges.

This is not about name-dropping. You need to create the wedge. Illustrate the compelling outcomes achieved by other clients using the solutions you provide and can provide for the prospect too.

Instead of saying how awesome you are, make your point by having your clients talk about you. If someone else is saying something about you, it’s a third-party endorsement, which is much more credible.

Example:

Mid-sized financial services clients like Second Eastern Bank have told us that we’ve helped them to provide dramatically better online customer experiences that improved market share by 17% in less than 12 months.

Paragraph 4 — Disarm

Next, is your opportunity to disarm the prospect. Make it clear that you’re not trying to sell them per se but rather to see if your agency might be a good fit.

Since there will be objections, select one and prevent it before it’s had a chance to plant in your prospect’s mind.

Example:

We respect that you may have other agency relationships and that there might not be a fit right now, but we would like for you to know us better because a need could arise down the road.

Paragraph 5 — Call To Action

Complex sales, such as for marketing services, are likely to take months or even years before there’s real movement. You will not make the sale with this first email and your call to action should be to advance the relationship forward.

For ad agencies, the typical next step is to secure a scheduled phone call with the prospect. Should there be an expert or other relevant member of your team that can add value to the call, mention them.

Make this call to action very clear. Limit it to one call to action per message, and one possible link, and propose a timeframe for the call.

Example:

Might a brief chat the week of June 2nd with our Insights Director, John Smith, and I, be of interest?

Full sample

Below is the full example, based on the points described above.

Rick,

Considering your acquisition of Zeus Financial, is First Primary Bank facing challenges integrating customer experiences or looking to build even more profitable relationships with customers?

If you’re struggling with either one, or both, I’d like to share two insights that we’ve uncovered about the banking industry and how they might be impacting you.

Mid-sized financial services clients like Second Eastern Bank have told us that we’ve helped them to provide dramatically better online customer experiences that improved market share by 17% in less than 12 months.

We respect that you may have other agency relationships and that there might not be a fit right now, but we would like for you to know us better because a need could arise down the road.

Might a brief chat the week of June 2nd with our insights director, John Smith, and I, be of interest?

Cheers,

Christian

Conclusion

Writing an effective agency new business cold email requires careful planning and research. If you keep it personal, outline the prospect’s needs, offer potential solutions, demonstrate capability, overcome objections and make a straightforward call to action, your messages will have a greater chance of cutting through the clutter, getting more responses, and paving the way for more new business wins.


Author Bio

Christian Banach is an advertising agency new business consultant and sales director at Catapult New Business. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.