With the rise of in-house agencies and management consultancies, your prospects have more options as an agency, and you have to work harder than ever to prove your value proposition. Without a process in place that is solely focused on developing new client relationships, how can you best forecast a positive revenue trajectory? Sure, you may get that occasional referral here and there, but other than that, you are just blending in with the crowd.
In 2019, your agency needs to get aggressive with winning the clients you were made to work with! So if you are ready to start going after those clients, the first thing you need to do, after you hire a dedicated person to manage the workload, is identify your agency’s right to win business.
What Is “Right To Win” Business?
Right-to-win business refers to prospects that should have been clients yesterday. They check every box in your list of an ideal client and your agency can confidently say “We are the best at solving your particular problem”. RTWB Is an extrapolation of the client successes that you’ve had within unique segments. These are segments that you can explicitly convey a measure of impact through the SOW and deliverable for your client.
If we can say that we have a “right to win” to your business, then we need to be able to prove it through case studies and past work that is directly applicable to those right to win prospects.
Naturally, there are challenges of accessing the information needed to develop a case study or show success metrics. But this is an essential part of the process and should be built into the program and agreed upon by all controllers of information before the assignment is started. Your ability to prove success is imperative to retaining the client you’re engaged with as well as proving to new prospects that you’re able to deliver.
How You Identify Your Agency’s RTWB
RTWB may be based on a specific industry, like adult beverages, or it could be tied to a niche audience, like moms. The important consideration is to be as specific as possible and thoroughly evaluate how and why your team has expertise and impact with your RTW target. At Catapult, we often concentrate on a specific problem that we solve for our clients better than anyone else, which in turn can be applied across verticals. Understanding your clients’ and prospects’ problems shows that you understand more about them than just what vertical they operate in.
Many agencies believe they know their key categories, but as they begin to do the work, they are unable to clearly convey how or why their smattering of clients fit the definition of RTWB. This is often due to the nature of network-related business or assignments that fall in their lap, dismissing the agency from establishing and investing in a specific expertise, like category.
Yes, there are exceptions, but the majority of marketers want to understand and see evidence of your ability to “be successful” in their category. For a CMO, whose job is on the line based on the partners they select, they need to feel fully confident that you can understand and deliver on their objectives. However, success is a very subjective idea, and you need to make sure it is clearly defined by your prospect, so you and your team can understand and appropriately set expectations.
Need Help Getting Started?
As you begin identifying your RTWB, find answers to these three questions:
- Who have I had the most success with in the past?
- Who do I want to work within the future?
- Where can I honestly say that our agency is superior to other agencies?
If you need a second set of eyes on your agency to help establish your right to win business, contact Catapult. Identifying RTWB for our clients has helped our firm generate over $1B in new business opportunities. We would happy to provide you with any additional value that will make your agency more successful.
Ah yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I don’t mean the holidays. Now is the time when all the top industry conferences begin releasing details about next years must-attend events.
2018 was brutal on marketers at every level, in every industry, and of every discipline. Decreasing consumer attention spans, newer, more advanced technologies, and higher pressures to drive real business value have put challenges on everyone. But no one is feeling the vicious influence of these demands like marketing agencies are.
As we plunge into 2019, it will be crucial that agencies continue to pave a path that enhances culture, retains top talent, and builds incredible value and trust with clients. These are six events that will keep you in the know and ahead of the competition throughout the new year:
April 9th-10th | Long Island City, NY
This two-day event is invitation only, though you can request an invite here. The event strives to help agency leaders balance their dual roles as marketers and managers by aligning attendees with best-fit SoDA faculty leads that will provide the most value depending on their interests and needs, whether those be peer-to-peer learning, knowledge sharing, best practices or accelerating professional growth.
May 8th-9th | New York, NY
Mirren Live is a two-day conference that gathers 400+ agency professionals to learn from the industries most forward-thinking new business professionals. Attendees can expect to solely learn about driving agency growth through business model and new business innovation.
September 3rd-6th | Boston, MA
Inbound celebrates a community of people who are passionate about marketing, selling and providing amazing customer experience through inbound practices. With 24,000+ attendees, speakers such as Michelle Obama, Issa Rae, and Gary Vaynerchuk, educational breakout sessions led by top marketing, sales and customer success leaders, and awesome entertainment, you can’t miss this event.
Dates TBD (Typically held in July) | New Orleans, LA
Not only is this a great opportunity for your agency to get on the map (should you enter the awards), but its also the place to be if you are looking for loads of inspiration and practical agency advice. The 300+ attendees include agency professionals from around the globe. Additionally, this conference is a great place to learn about how to implement a successful new business strategy that will get your small agency in front of huge brands. Did you miss this event last year? No sweat, here is a quick recap!
Dates TBD (Typically held in October) | Orlando, FL
The Masters of Marketing is a five-day event where 2500+ attendees come to hear CMOs and industry disruptors share their incredible stories of mastering brands, driving growth in innovative ways and discussing what they are needing from their agency partners. This event brings together all the top CEOs of major brands making it prime for agencies interested in prospecting and networking opportunities.
November 2019 | Chicago, IL
Mirren CEO Summit is an event you will want to register for quickly, as it only has 130 seats. A more intimate event, the summit addresses the most important issues regarding agency growth. The summit is broken into four pillars- business model, operations, marketing, and leadership, where top agency leaders share their insights and personal challenges with agency growth.
Catapult will be at these events. Which can we expect to see you at in 2019? If we left any out, please leave them in the comments below!
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:
- Company website
- Annual reports
- SEC filings
- Analyst reports
- Investor relations
- Press releases
- Product and technical literature
- Speeches and conferences
- 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 1: You 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.
2018 has kept marketers at every level on their toes. We’ve created timely, culturally relevant content and compelling stories that allow us to better connect and engage with consumers. We’ve integrated and adapted significant amounts of technologies into our strategy to prove marketings ROI. And, we have A/B tested numerous campaigns to ensure we are keeping up with the increasing and almost impossible demands of our customers.
Whether you are a CMO at a global company or an account manager at an agency, each of us are feeling the pressures brought on by increased industry complexities. These include the heavy focus placed on customer experience, the impacts of data and technology, the heightened demand to drive brand and sales growth, and the need for a higher level of speed and agility.
Due to the environment that has been created by these coinciding and intensifying pressures, marketers have put a heavy focus on establishing agency partnerships that optimize their specific needs. This has forced agencies to change up everything from their pricing models down to their service offerings.
After reading a recent publication by AAR Group in the UK, they mentioned 8 areas in which marketers are demanding change from their partners that will inevitably continue to transform and evolve the modern agency ecosystem:
1. A Move Towards Simplification
One of the overarching trends shaping this year’s agency ecosystem is the strong need for simplification. With a significant focus on reducing duplication and cost, marketers seek to generate greater efficiency in time and management.
Though many marketers are drastically decreasing the number of agencies on their rosters, this does not mean that the era of specialist, single discipline agency is over. Specialism, in particular areas such as performance marketing, conversion rate optimization and other outcome-related disciplines, is still required. Additionally, the wave of new technologies such as AI, Blockchain, and Voice are bringing further complexity that marketers will need help navigating. While integrated agencies are expanding their service offerings in this direction, specialist agencies are also winning their way onto the agency roster of larger brands.
The overlap between claimed skillsets between multi-disciplined, communications agencies and specialist digital communication agencies is another area in which marketers are seeking simplification. The need for multi-disciplined and single discipline agencies comes down to marketers determining how the different agencies can bring various kinds of expertise together in a way that reflects the brand’s unique needs.
2. Integrated Strategy
Marketers have begun showing a strong need for greater strategic integration, especially concerning creative and media strategy. What we are seeing is leading brands demanding their own “custom shops” which has resulted in the rise of cross-holding company single-client teams.
As Wendy Clark, Global CEO of DDB Worldwide mentioned in a recent Ad Age article, “With the macro marketplace demands for growth, efficiency, and speed, it makes sense that brand marketers are looking for partners that are specifically set up around the way their business works.”
We’ve seen this trend become more prevalent among major agencies. For example, WPP’s demonstrated their plans to move toward more integrated workings with the Walgreens and Boots alliance and IAG and Publicis ‘Power of One’, which attempts to put clients at the center and facilitate access to all its services in a fluid, modular way.
As more and more brands ask that their agencies form multiple holding companies to collaborate as their specialist agency team, the more we can confirm the need for integrated strategy, simplicity, and efficiency from the progressive agency model.
3. Taking Creativity To The Next Level
We live in a highly competitive and rapidly changing world, and with such, marketers are expressing a strong need for external creative input and demanding big, transformative ideas. While in-house content creation is on the rise, there is considerable value that external creatives bring to the table; they’re constantly exposed to inputs and challenges outside of those internal teams are experiencing. This allows outside talent to challenge the norm and give solutions to problems the clients may have overlooked otherwise.
Brands have noticed that stand out talent is attracted to the environment and culture that modern agencies provide. Additionally, agencies are aware of the changes that marketers are demanding and their account management teams find new ways to be creative by knowing their clients and their client’s industries inside and one. So while in-house marketing continues to grow, agencies are not only working harder than ever re-establishing their credibility and expertise but providing an extraordinary amount of value and creative opportunity to clients.
4. Improving Speed and Agility
While many brand marketers are struggling to adopt an agile methodology into their internal processes, they have challenged their agency partners to work in more agile ways to improve responsiveness, speed, and maneuverability.
Of course, this model takes two to Tango, but both clients and agencies are working together to make an agile system work. For example, some client marketing teams are working closely with their agency partners concurrently in sprints to benefit from greater agility. Co-location is also being adapted, with client and agency team members having increased face-to-face interaction and collaboration.
Marketers have been keen to the development of more agile ways of working but are often left frustrated by slow internal processes and decision-making, even when their agency team has the capability to move more quickly.
5. Proving Business Value
While marketers have always employed agencies to drive sales performance, data and analytics have brought an entirely different level of focus on attribution of value and ROI. Today, presenting your open and click through rate is simply not enough. Marketers now expect agencies to demonstrate real business value, not just communications or brand impact.
The challenges in attribution, however, arise when evaluating the complexity of many customer journeys and the fragmentations of touchpoints. We see a higher number of agencies investing heavily in more sophisticated attribution techniques and modeling by proactively working with clients to drive not only sales but cost savings that can be re-invested in new projects.
6. Improving Transparency And Rebuilding Trust
Transparency issues and ad fraud were two substantial controversies discussed by the media this year. We have seen challenges that are in danger of dissolving client/agency mostly trust through digital media and programmatic ad buying. These problems have taken place around ad placement, viewability, and measurement combined with blurry media supply chains involving multiple platforms each looking to have their piece of the ad budget.
When asking marketers about how agencies can fix these broken relationships, many responded with:
- The demonstration and application of knowledge, and skill of the service the client needs, performance and results
- Consistency, dependability, and appreciation of the client’s needs
- No more suprises, if there is a problem, it needs to be brought up at the appropriate time
- Regular updates, frequent communication, and full transparency
- Respect for key priorities and senior level involvement
- The development of a more intimate, close-working relationship with the client over time.
Advertising and media are still very much a people business, meaning, individuals can have a massive impact on the working relationship between the client and the agency. Client’s are supportive of their agency’s making a decent margin, but ties are diminishing when there is a lack of communication that leaves the client feeling the agency is putting their personal interests first.
7. Maintaining Credibility
Many agencies are expanding their service offerings significantly to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of their clients. As agencies begin expanding into new areas of expertise, some are losing their overall credibility by moving too quickly and neglecting to adapt the shape of their talent as they evolve.
Agencies that have diverse capabilities can benefit from a more comprehensive approach for clients, but marketers have become leery of agencies putting a digital band-aid on old practices or unnecessary solutions. An example of this is the lack of mobile-first solutions or the risk of agencies pitching a creative platform for an ad campaign when there is so much more that is needed. Agencies have to be flexible with how they present themselves to clients as needs change just as clients have to be sure that agencies are not stretching themselves into areas in which they lack the required expertise.
8. Keeping up with the changes
As marketers are operating in more complex environments than ever before, there is now a heightened need for clarity in key decisions around investment, strategy, and technology. Additionally, there is an increasing need to continue learning new capabilities to adapt to the rapidly changing consumer needs and fast-growing competitive landscapes. Marketers are looking to their agency partners to help them make sense of complicated, uncertain environments and to help them continuously improve.
Marketers have recognized that in a digitally-led, technologically advanced world, there is no longer a need for complex agency structures. Instead, it is crucial to have an agile team that can quickly develop strategies based on the changing needs of the client. Client/agency relationships have been tested to their limits this year, but as we’ve seen in the recent months and will continue to see in 2019, agencies are working harder than ever to perfect these eight areas and deliver results that add extensive value to their client’s businesses.
One of the most crucial aspects of maintaining revenue growth for your agency is to build thriving relationships with your current clients. From studying the brand’s industry, maintaining strong communication and having overall excellent business judgment, there is a lot that goes into establishing a secure and trusted client relationship. And in today’s world, these things are no longer “nice to have”; they are necessities.
Like every aspect of the current agency landscape, the way in which we manage our client relationships is in desperate need of innovation. However, this innovation comes with an excellent opportunity for revenue growth.
Here are four methods that your agency can adopt today to grow organic revenue while establishing long and successful partnerships in the future:
Embrace a culture that celebrates client relationships
At the 2018 Mirren CEO Summit, Tatia Torrey, the Chief Client Officer of Havas, discussed how each month the agency holds a “case study share out,” an event where the entire agency gets together and celebrates incredible work they created for their clients. In addition to being a celebration of hard work and creative freedom, it has the potential to grow revenue in numerous ways:
- Allows junior level employees to practice speaking in front of large crowds/agency executives, preparing them for growth within the agency
- Educates all employees on client trends, keeping them informed and up-to-date
- Provides first-hand insights on different products/offerings and how they are performing in the market
- Develops great content to utilize for agency outreach and advocacy
By giving your client teams a safe place to brag about the incredible work they’ve created for clients, you’re not only inspiring an environment that keeps the creative juices flowing, but you’re also developing a competitive nature that will help push your marketers to keep thinking bigger.
Demand that your account managers act like CEO’s
As the liaison between your agency and the client, it is crucial that your account managers treat their account as their own business. What I mean by this is that you should be holding them accountable for knowing all there is to know about their client’s business. This includes the brand’s history, the ownership structure, the brand’s market, the industry trends, etc. I suggest writing out a list of questions you expect your account managers to know about their clients and request that they take the time to answer each of them.
When your account managers understand everything about their client, they will have a unique opportunity to continually provide the client value, and never have to sell. Selling can be uncomfortable, but if your account managers are solving real problems that the company is facing, your agency will not only become a trusted advisor but also become invaluable.
Prioritize growth accounts
Evaluate the top 5 accounts you see the most growth potential with and prioritize them. This requires as much investment as new business, but you’ve already won their business, so you’ve already won half the battle.
Start by evaluating what your agency needs to do to keep the client’s current scope of work, what you need to do in order to grow other parts of the client’s business, and ensure that you have full visibility into what is happening in your client’s market. Find the problems your client is facing and start explaining how your agency has a solution.
These accounts don’t have to be chosen solely based on the opportunity for revenue growth. If an account has the chance to expand your knowledge, add to your portfolio or even diversify your skill set, it may be worth the investment so that your agency can round-out altogether.
Develop growth drivers
One sure way to organically drive new business is to develop service offerings in up and coming spaces. For example, Havas recently created The Annex, an extension of their services that is essentially market research on the millennial audience. Not only is Havas gathering data their clients will benefit from, but they are also attracting new client’s that want extreme cultural relevance. Additionally, by using this platform to host events that interest the millennial audience, (concerts, fashion shows, influencer networking events, etc.) Havas is also the first to know of upcoming artists, musicians, photographers and other talent that gives them an innovative advantage.
R/GA is driving growth through their newest service offering, Brand AI where they have begun building AI solutions that transform the consumer experience. Having a strong understanding of the impact voice and personalized data will have on the future of, well, everything, the agency is quickly growing this service offering by pitching the idea that “If you’re not thinking about AI, you’re going to get disrupted by someone else.” The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Nike, Uber and more have already jumped onto this service, and R/GA is getting way ahead of the competition as they develop and learn what will and won’t work for the future of AI marketing.
Whether your agency is evaluating where to allocate resources, how to find new clients, or how to retain existing clients, one thing is for sure, being innovative to achieve growth is not optional. From creating innovative services, attracting top talent and winning the best clients, the competitive nature of the industry is on fire. To master it all, you must start from the inside out and focus on growing organically.
If growth drivers for your agency include scaling outside your existing network, evaluating new assignment/comp structures or diversifying your client portfolio, check out how Catapult can help you grow sustainable and consistent revenue.
As a new business professional, success lies in taking action, doing more than presiding, and empowering others around you to work as effective teams. Each week is an opportunity to make progress and build lasting relationships with prospects, clients, and partners while finding transformative business opportunities for your clients.
This insightful webinar lead by the Managing Director of Huge, Matt Weiss, explains the journey to success within the new business space is not one that comes free of many challenges both professionally and mentally. There is a reason that only 21% of New Business Directors last with a company for three or more years.
After watching the webinar, I have learned that if you seek to pursue a long, impactful and successful career in agency new business, you should direct your focus towards these four tactics:
- Find the center of the organization- Within any large organization, there are all kinds of people at all different levels, and each of them has a different agenda. Your job in business development is to find the center of your prospects organizations. Why? Because the center is what drives direction.There are two types of centers to identify, one being the leadership center and the other being the cultural center. At the center of leadership, you will be able to clearly identify the organization’s vision and overall mission. At the center of culture, you will be able to understand the atmosphere and the people who make up the organization as a whole.
If you find these two elements before pitching to a company, you will be able to appeal to the decision makers and their agendas, in which they are actually trying to accomplish, whether they verbally mentioned it to you or not.
- Develop true grit- New business is one of the most difficult and grueling positions to hold within the agency sphere. Typically, the teams aren’t large, and they are a cost center for the company. The expectations are high, and the pressure is on at all times. You will have many moments in which you feel you can’t get the job done.In those moments, you must think of people like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in just about every movie they’ve ever been in. No matter who they were playing, they demonstrated the ability to get the job done, regardless of the odds. In those moments where you feel overwhelmed, remember to breath, prioritize and know confidently that you will get through the day.
Also keep in mind that new business is a long-distance race, not a sprint. Those who try to sprint through it will burn out in a few months, and those who treat it like a long distance race see substantial success and build stamina along the way.
- Stop selling, start helping- The first deadly sin of new business is selling. Your instincts naturally compel you to sell your agency’s services because, well, it’s your job! But the truth is everyone HATES sales. Think about the last time you visited a car dealership. If your experiences have been anything like mine, you were immediately swarmed by salespeople, and the one you landed with was extra pushy. So pushy that you left because you were incredibly uncomfortable.Your sales tactics shouldn’t repel your prospects, but rather, attract them and add tremendous value to them. So change your mindset from selling to helping. Change your pitch to show how your agency will help the company grow, transform their offerings, master a skill set they don’t have, solve a problem, or even beat the competition. How does working with you solve their problems? Agencies who can answer this question, without selling the answer, win.
- Make the pitch process fun- The decision makers you are meeting with at the pitch have day jobs, and they are attending the pitch as their night job. To them, while the pitch is necessary, it’s also taking time from other, more pressing matters. What they are not expecting from you is a fun experience. So make one. Keep it light, make everyone in the room feel good about themselves, bring your culture with you, and most importantly, add value. At the end of the day, people work with those who they want to be around.New business is a tough business. Our job is to be coaches and help our teams and clients be as good as they can possibly be. There is no way to avoid the blood, sweat, and tears that come with the profession. However, if you start each of your prospecting efforts by identifying both the of the organization’s leadership and cultural centers, have grit, offer continuous value, and make the pitch process fun for your audiences, you will have a long and fulfilling existence career-wise.
If your agency lacks the bandwidth, resources, or knowledge that is required for a sustainable new business process, Catapult can help. Having generated over $1 billion in new business opportunities for our clients, we provide you with the proper training, tools, and resources that deliver revenue growth. Give us a call today for more information.
It’s Q4, and many agencies are strategically trying to plan out their new business efforts for 2019 while brands are thinking about their marketing plans. This year, like every year before, we have seen massive changes across the entire marcom industry. From rapid technology advancements shaping the digital landscape to consumers taking more and more control over user experience, we all stuck asking “what’s next?”
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.
Did you know that almost 50% of all new business efforts fail within the first six months of the year? That is a pretty terrifying statistic, and the truth is, the agencies who make up this number have typically never dedicated the time to create a new business development strategy.
As a marketing agency, you understand how marketing and sales work, but why don’t you apply the same techniques you are using for your clients to fuel your own agency’s growth? Until recently, business development has never received much attention from the agency world. Without a dedicated focus comes a lack of investment in the time and resources needed to build a scalable new business process. Today, we find that many agencies are relying on referrals and are unable to predict revenue growth accurately.
So, if you are like most agencies and have found yourself here, how can you start moving forward and avoid falling back into the statistic above? Having a successful business development strategy starts with having a strong culture that makes new business, everyone’s business.
Here are 5 factors that are crucial for building a culture that promotes new business growth on all fronts.
- Find the right new business person– While every agency requires a specific personality type to mesh with their culture, there are several qualifications you must search for when filling this role. First, they must be a high energy person who can sustain a high outreach plan. Second, they have to be a strong communicator that can adjust their messaging in a moments notice depending on their prospects needs. Finally, this person needs to be process-driven to ensure your new business machine is scalable, repeatable and will never stop running.
- Start from the top– Designate your C-suite with the responsibility of encouraging each team member, at every level, to contribute ideas about what will bring the agency new opportunities. It has to feel like a team sport in the sense that your new business cannot be an individual pursuit. In addition, encourage your C-suite to build a strong network. If they aren’t actively attending events, meeting other industry professionals and referring trusted partners in an effort to pursue new business, your agency is missing out on opportunities.
- Rally the troops– Whether you host a weekly meeting or have a YouTube channel, make sure your entire agency is up-to-speed with what’s happening on the new business front. When your business development rep or pitch team goes off to pursue a new opportunity, wave them out the door with words of affirmation and encouragement. When they return, greet them with excitement and applaud them for their efforts. If they win a new opportunity, make sure the whole agency feels involved and celebrated. If you don’t, you risk losing the opportunity for cultural growth and leave your new business stuck inside its current box.
- React appropriately to wins and losses– For your new business lead, winning is the best feeling in the world. On the flip side, losing is the absolute worst. In the case of a loss, most agency executives focus on picking out what’s wrong with the individuals on the new business team. I challenge you to change this behavior and instead focus on building a culture that says “winning or losing, we are all in this together.”
- Leave a legacy– As an executive, how are you leaving a legacy for your agency? I guarantee that there are people at your agency right now who don’t like sales and want nothing to do with it. They also don’t feel that new business falls on their shoulders. Your culture allows them to think that this is attitude is okay and even assures them that the task isn’t on them. Start building a legacy that puts the weight of new business on every team members shoulders. Whether we are talking about the C-suite, account managers or the pitch team, everyone can be playing an active part in using their network to expand the growth of the agency.
Embedding new business into the culture and DNA of your agency is crucial to your success, and it can only happen if you hire a dedicated person who can make it their sole focus. But as mentioned, you cannot allow this enormous task to fall on this one person’s shoulders alone. As an agency executive, you must hold your entire agency accountable for generating new business, starting with yourself.
From hiring a New Business Director who fits your culture to actually sitting down and thrashing out your business development strategy, there is a lot of work to be done. At Catapult, we understand the incredible impact an agency’s culture can have on the organization as a whole. That’s why when you partner with us, our first step is to explore your exact requirements and provide you with a Sales Director who replicates your ideal characteristics. From there, we build a new business plan and go to market.
If you are ready to embed new business into the fundamental core of your agency, give us a call today to see how we can help get you on the right track.
Any agency owner that has gone through the task of hiring a New Business Director has surely come across the new business pro that touts their “huge” network of opportunities. They claim to have worked with everyone and can easily get your agency in the door with the brands you want just through their sheer charm and extensive array of friends and ex-colleagues.
If you want to use a network to win new business, every agency should start by actually mining their own network first. Most agencies I speak with have a huge cache of network connections that they have not even begun to take advantage of.
Stop scratching the surface of your contacts, stop depending on an outside rainmaker, and start mining away at the connections that have been sitting in front of you the whole time. Here are a few tips to get started
1. Create your Core 100 Network- Sit down and go through a list of every past client, every current client, vendors, industry colleagues, and people from school. It only takes a few minutes to build up to 100 people that can absolutely begin making a difference in the number of referrals you receive over the coming months. Those 100 people need to be put into a personalized communication cadence where you reach out to each person at least once a month, even if just to say “hi”. Sound like a lot? 100 people in 20 days, that’s 5 emails a day…or 15 minutes if it takes 3 minutes per email. Not a lot of time at all.
2. Don’t only track your prospects, track your clients- Set alerts in LinkedIn, Google, and Winmo for all of your current clients. In Winmo’s database, they see one-third of their data points change every 6 months. This means that your current client’s teams are constantly turning over, especially in the lower ranks. Get to know those people and track them. They will eventually leave your current client and land somewhere else, and that’s a much easy intro to that new brand when they have already worked with you.
3. Have a real conversation with your network- This means you don’t just send a monthly newsletter telling everyone about what has happened at your agency. Take the time to reach out to each contact in your Core 100 with a personalized message. It may be as simple as a “hello, how are things”, to a more involved request of an introduction to someone that they know. The idea is though that we are producing real conversations with these contacts by talking to them, rather than talking at them.
To keep your pipeline full of qualified, referral-driven leads, continually stay top of mind with your tightest contacts that have seen and been beneficiaries of your great work.