Every day there are more and more articles posted about the importance of your overall corporate culture. Like this one from CEOWorld. Agencies, in particular, tend to put an emphasis on ensuring their attitudes and beliefs are front and center on their websites in order to show their overall corporate culture. What many of them fail to realize is there’s a secondary culture that may be holding them back, and it has to do with the way that they bring on new clients. Your sales culture is different from your corporate culture. It specifically revolves around the people, processes, and approach that you take to bring on new clients.
Corporate culture vs. sales culture
While your overall corporate culture certainly impacts this subculture, your sales culture does have a life all its own. Now many agencies would say “we don’t do sales, so that doesn’t apply to us.” False. You do bring on new clients, whether they come through WOM, referrals, or outbound sales, so any interaction you have with a new client is what makes up your sales (or business development) culture.
The way you speak, interact with, present, and deliver proposals to prospective clients is massively important to ensure they are not only impressed with your work, but feel connected to your culture in a positive way. Many agencies spend so much time ensuring culture is felt internally that they miss the ways culture is reflected externally by those in charge of new business.
Three things that can hold back your new business and negatively impact the way your culture is viewed
1. You are too attached to the sale.
A LOT of blood, sweat, and tears can go into a great client pitch. And while that’s important, you should care about winning business that you are passionate about! BUT, there is a tipping point where prospects can feel you are invested in only the win and closing their business. In the sales world, we call it commission breath. People know when they are being sold to make the seller money vs when they are being sold to actually help solve a problem. The best way to show a client you care about their needs is to simply be willing to walk away if it’s not a true fit. Tell them that upfront. Let them know you aren’t a perfect fit for everyone. Scarcity is value. The more you pull back from people and let them decide, the more those same people will push forward to hear more about you and your business.
2. Your sales process isn’t a process at all.
We started this off by talking about how many agencies believe they “don’t make sales”, and that tends to show up during the overall courting process. This means mistakes are routinely made when it comes time to have a needs analysis call or the proper follow-up after a first or second call. It also happens when a proposal deck should be submitted or how to push for those final pitches and closes. A well-structured approach that feels organized and on time is easily recognizable from a prospect. It also gives them comfort that this is not new to you and your team. You’ve been here before and will give them confidence that you can be a trusted partner.
3. You don’t understand what your prospects are trying to achieve.
Certainly, you know they want a new website, I mean they told you that. What you may have missed is helping them diagnose the real problem. The problem that is keeping them from achieving their larger goals that they may believe a new website will fix. A great new business process will properly uncover those buried problems. It also helps your ability to pitch the work and your prospects better understand exactly what they need. Prospects need to realize you are not just a service. You are a true expert ready to have a higher-level conversation that uncovers their needs. Only then will be positioned above others when choosing who is getting their work.
Keep focusing on your total culture. But don’t ignore that the way you view, prioritize, and organize your new business efforts is a culture unto itself and it is on the front line every day. For your prospects, your actions speak louder than words on a website.