Posts Tagged ‘agency new business’

6 Ways Video Meetings Have Improved Client Relationships

6 Ways Video Meetings Have Improved Client Relationships

It’s been over a year since we all began the trial and error of remote working and virtual meetings, no matter the industry. Although the pandemic brought challenges and adversities, there is one thing we, at Catapult, all agree on – video meetings have drastically changed the business development process and improved client relationships. Whether it’s between us and our agency partners or our agency partners and their own clients, video meetings work to build trust, accelerate the sales process, and create a personal touch in even your most typical every day interactions.

Video conferencing is here to stay. According to a recent report from Transparency Marketing Research, “the video conferencing market is expected to show a compound annual growth rate of 8.4% between 2020 and 2027.” Even when we emerge from COVID and things start to “get back to normal” (whatever that looks like!), video meetings will be a significant part of how we work, how business is done, and how we communicate and interact.

I sat down with our two Vice Presidents of Client Success, Bonnie Buie and Robin Ernstes, to chat through examples of how video meetings have transformed our agency relationships.

Here are 6 ways video meetings have improved client relationships:

1. We are building a genuine rapport with our clients quicker than ever before.

We have gained deeper connections with our clients as we meet over video calls in their living rooms while their children or pets are in the background. It’s strange to think that while physical human interaction is so limited right now we actually feel closer to each of our clients than before the pandemic because we all truly know one another better.

2. Video calls have made meetings, in general, feel more human.

Before the shift in video, most people read emotions into an email that wasn’t actually present or heard a tone in a voice that wasn’t intended. Things no longer get lost in tone given that we can read body language throughout all meetings.  It also helps your prospects remember you, as you’ll no longer be just another email in their inbox but now a face to a real person that they have spent time with.

3. Face-to-face meetings have improved the overall understanding of one another and allows everyone to communicate more clearly.

Because up to 93% of communication uses nonverbal cues, it makes sense that video conferences improve communication and understanding.  Timing of when to speak, and more importantly when not to speak, is easily read through video, where a conference call can have people interrupting regularly.

4. The sales process is more efficient.

There is no more wasted time coordinating travel and schedules around meeting in person. We’ve used all of the extra hours saved from not traveling to connect with more potential leads to fill our agencies’ pipelines. That means more phone calls talking to prospects about new business, and less phone calls figuring out how to match calendars with travel plans.

5. Video conferencing allows for flexible pitching.

More effective communication means that we can be flexible in our sales approach as we take notice when a prospect leans in or becomes disengaged.

6. Screen sharing eliminates whether or not your prospect has seen your assets.

Instead of attaching presentations and other collateral in emails and hoping a prospect opens them, it is now easier than ever to simply share these things over a screen share during a video call. Long gone are the days of them having to download a screensharing software.

Sales is all about building strong client relationships.

Video conferencing is going to continue to be key in building a solid foundation of future client relationships. And with the lower costs, increased efficiencies, and more productive meetings, your agency can increase capacity, close deals faster, and generate more revenue.

 

 

 

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Better Predict Your Future New Business Success

Better Predict Your Future New Business Success

2020 has taught us many things, but one of the biggest learnings has been around most of our agencies’ need to better understand and predict where their future new business will come from. Last March, just about all of us received phone calls from our clients cutting our budgets in half or changing our scope of works (for the worse).  This meant a renewed interest in our new business efforts and trying desperately to fill a funnel with clients that could make up those gaps created by reduced scopes.  

Understand Your Baseline Metrics

The trouble for many agencies is they never established any sort of baseline understanding of their new business process.  Without a baseline understanding of the metrics that get you from a cold call to a signed service agreement, how do you know which levers to pull to make new business happen?

Lag Measures

Many agencies I review find themselves looking and evaluating new business through Lag Measures.  Lag measures indicate the current or past state of the business.  These are measures like revenue, net profit, or annual contract value.  The problem with looking at these numbers to predict future success is that they are all in the rearview mirror of your new business journey and don’t really predict what is going to happen next.  It’s important to know these values to evaluate where you’ve been, but predicting where you’re going is our aim here. I think we can all agree that our April 2019 revenue numbers didn’t exactly properly predict our April 2020 revenue numbers.  For most, your ACV reduced in 2020 vs previous years, so how do we estimate how many new clients we should or will be winning?

Lead Measures

When creating a repeatable new business process, we need to be focusing on Lead measures.  Lead measures are those that predict future results.  In terms of new business development, this means looking at actions and events that most agencies aren’t typically used to tracking.  Marketing Qualified Leads, Needs Analysis Calls, Number of Pitches are just a few lead measures that can better predict exactly what may be coming in the future months.  

Below is an example of a potential sales funnel.  If you understand the metrics and percentage chances to move from one level of the funnel to the next, then you can better predict and (importantly) ramp up your new business efforts when you hit the hard times or the times of needed new revenue growth.

 

If you don’t have a baseline already of the numbers above to move from level to level in your funnel, take a small sample of the last three months and begin to track this every month moving forward.  Even an imperfect funnel will give you a better idea and the ability to more accurately predict exactly what is coming down the line in the future.  

Better Predictions Means Faster Growth

Better predictions of your new business mean you are able to grow faster, more profitably, and provide an overall better service by being staffed properly at all times for your new clients.

If you need help figuring out your funnel and which metrics you should be tracking in your lead stages, give us a call.  At Catapult, we use these every day to ensure we are growing our own and our agencies’ new business efforts in the most efficient way possible.

 

 

 

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Featured Author Post: Operationalizing Your Agency’s New Business Strategy

Operationalizing Your Agency's New Business Strategy

By Jody Sutter

New business is one of those responsibilities that should be fully integrated into your daily schedule—some days in a more active and focused way, other days more passively and opportunistically.

But for a lot of agency leaders, it’s not.

New business is an activity for times when the pipeline dries up. Or it’s what you do when you’re in a competitive pitch. When it’s not a daily habit, consistent action is hard to sustain—because it means starting over again and again and again…

You’ll reach points when you conclude you can’t go on like this any longer. You’ll pause, gather your team, and brainstorm ideas for a better business development strategy. 

There’s satisfaction in developing new ideas. It’s inherently optimistic and creative! You remove yourself from the daily grind and whisk your team off to an inspirational spot to think big strategic thoughts and reshape your agency’s destiny. And I encourage this! In fact, I conduct these kinds of workshops. They’re energizing and I get satisfaction from watching an agency team walk away excited about the plans they’re going to implement.

What I don’t enjoy is watching them neglect those plans as soon as the daily grind takes over again.

Good Habits are Helped by Strong Frameworks

Acting on new ideas requires us to form new productive habits, which is a challenge in and of itself. I’m not an expert on how humans form habits, but I can speak from personal and professional experience that good habits around business development are aided by strong frameworks.

I created such a framework a few years ago after I’d had an epiphany: if money, time, and resources were no object, an agency would do it all—blogs, Instagram Lives, webinars, proprietary research, PR, prospecting outreach… Anything that you didn’t like to do or have time to do, you’d hire someone else for or you’d outsource it. 

But time and money is always an issue. And agency leaders are rarely going to do stuff they don’t like to do. 

What I realized was that to make a business development strategy stick, it must be based on tactics that are right for that agency.

This inspired me to create the New Business Ecosystem™ framework.  

A New Business Ecosystem includes anything your agency uses to support business development, from a pricing proposal to a website to social media strategy. Like a natural ecosystem, it promotes growth when the interconnected parts are suitable for the environment. 

When I’m building a New Business Ecosystem with my clients, we look at all they’re doing and all the tools they’re using and we assess their utility against goals, resources, and strategic positioning. We ask:

  • Are the tools and activities right for the culture and environment?
  • Do they encourage and nurture growth?
  • Do they support the agency’s goals?
  • Are there too many tactics to easily sustain?
  • Do they all interact in a healthy way? 

Usually, the outcome of this exercise results in a sort of kanban board for new business. From there we can create a plan and define the activities required to get to the goals

Filling the Void between What You Want and How to Get There 

This plan helps fill in the void between stating a goal, such as increasing revenue by 25%, and taking the right steps to achieve it.

A New Business Ecosystem offers you not only a bird’s-eye view of the activities that are most likely to get you closer to your goals, but a roadmap for what you must be doing on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. 

When you know exactly what actions to take, and those actions nudge you out of your comfort zone, you start to see progress. You can apply this to any goal you have in life, whether it’s to retire at age 50, learn how to juggle, or grow your agency’s total revenue by 25%.

Your New Business Ecosystem will be custom to your agency, but here’s my advice on the actions you should take on an annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis.

Annually 

Your New Business Ecosystem is essentially your new business plan and you should evaluate it annually. Look for opportunities to systematize and scale what you’re already doing if it’s producing good results. And explore what can be added or taken out of your ecosystem to keep it at an optimal level of health.

Here are four areas to consider:

  1. Recommit to your core tactics. Analyze the core business-generating activities you’ve chosen based on your new business strengths. (Here’s a quick and fun quiz you can take to find out your new business strengths profile.) Are they working? Do they need improvement or optimization? Can they be delegated to others or are they still dependent on your involvement?
  2. Add complementary tactics. If you’ve got the core activities running on autopilot, consider adding complementary activities that support them. For example, if you’ve got momentum behind a speaker strategy and it’s starting to generate leads consistently, complementary activities might include nurturing those leads with a webinar series, getting a better CRM tool in place to manage those leads, or adding functionality to your agency’s website to better engage leads.
  3. Assess the health of intellectual property. Review IP workhorses like case studies, team bios, and credentials documents to see if they need updates. These don’t change frequently, they do require care and attention if they are going to work effectively. Be proactive instead of being forced to make last-minute and hasty updates to fulfill an immediate need. 
  4. Review and recalibrate new business policies and procedures. Are they still working smoothly? Do they help you make the right decisions about what new business to pursue?

Quarterly 

I’ve become a big fan of quarterly working sprints to accomplish goals (I think they can be so effective I’ve re-engineered most of my programs to include them).

Quarterly sprints can be a great way to tackle both necessary projects, like a website redesign, that easily get pushed aside by daily emergencies and distractions as well as “always improving” projects—projects that push you into new areas and have a positive effect on your new business operations over time. These are often the complementary activities I mentioned in bullet #2 above—initiatives you’ve been wanting to start but never seem to have the bandwidth for.

For your first foray into quarterly sprints, choose one or two goals and make them manageable. Outline a plan for what must get done on a daily, weekly or ongoing basis and use that plan to assign yourself and your team weekly actions that, if taken, will lead you to successful completion. 

This approach works because it deconstructs big, amorphous statements like, “we’ll improve how our agency generates leads” which can be hard for teams to convert into action, into a tactical road map that everyone understands and follows. Seeing progress being made instills a priceless sense of satisfaction.

Daily, weekly, and monthly

I lump these together because they’re all related to frequent and consistent action required to keep your new business ecosystem humming.

Plus, they tend to vary by goal, individual, and agency.  For example, if your core activity is outbound sales, your activities will include things like daily list-building and sales calls. If your activity is content marketing, your weekly and monthly activities will be related to keeping the content engine running: writing, shooting, editing, formatting, distribution, and promotion.

And, of course, always include:

  • A regularly scheduled new business status meeting. Many agencies have these weekly (a few neglect to have them at all, which astounds me). I like a biweekly cadence, which frees up time on the schedule and allows you a wider perspective to see progress over time.
  • Pipeline report updates and distribution. I’m all for a wider distribution of the pipeline report, especially if you expect most people at your agency to be involved in new business. Consider having a modified report that omits sensitive financial information that you can share with your larger team. I bet you’ll find they feel more invested and willing to participate.

And, finally, document ongoing activities that won’t be going away any time soon in an operations manual so that you can grow and scale them as your agency grows.

I was recently a guest on Marcel Petitpas’s The Agency Profit podcast and Marcel and I talked in-depth about how to operationalize a new business strategy, including many of the points I make here (if you want to take a listen, click this link). He asked me how an agency owner can stay accountable to goals and objectives when it’s so easy to get pulled off track by client needs.

My answer: lean on your New Business Ecosystem. 

Having a plan and supporting structure in place makes it much easier to regain the momentum you’ve lost. It eliminates that common and demotivating feeling of “starting from scratch”. 

Because the fact is you will get derailed (I haven’t figured out how to crack that case yet but when I do, you’ll all be the first to know)—you just want to minimize its impact by going back to the actions that are right for you. 

About The Author:

Jody Sutter

Jody Sutter, is the owner of The Sutter Company, a business development consultancy that specializes in working with leadership at small ad agencies who are underperforming when it comes to winning new business and would like to win the right clients consistently but also make the process less chaotic and exhausting for their teams. To learn more about how she can help your agency, schedule a free 45-minute consultation here. For more information about The Sutter Company’s programs for optimizing new business at small agencies, go to www.thesuttercompany.com.

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What Business Development Director Persona Does Your Agency Need?

Personas of a Business Development Director

In the past, we’ve talked about what qualities you should look for in a Business Development Director for your agency, but now we want to break down the different personas of Biz Dev people that will cross your path on your hiring journey.  Throughout our experience, there are really three main types of people that are drawn to business development – The Storyteller, The Hunter, and The Builder.  

Each of these new biz types can appear similar in an interview if you are asking stock questions, but when put to work, they operate completely differently.  Your agency may be ready to thrive with a Hunter or stagnate with a Builder.  Being able to identify which you need is vital to ensuring your growth in 2021.  Let’s break down each of these business development personas.

What business development director persona is best for your agency?

The Storyteller

  • Pros:
    • Ready to create a true differentiator for your agency
    • Able to look at your value prop and understand how it is different from your competition, and more importantly, how interesting it is for your prospects
    • Often great in pitches and late stage funnel activities due to their ability to connect and build rapport
  • Cons:
    • As a late stage funnel manager, most likely not desperate to start conversations cold
    • Proactive top funnel outreach is often ignored for the comfort of working known relationships with current and potential prospects
    • Typically not as comfortable with hearing “no”

When to hire (and not hire) a Storyteller?

If you find yourself with a full tech stack, all the data you need, and someone that can help own some of the top of the funnel proactive outreach, a Storyteller is going to provide a ton of benefit to your team by handling those 2nd and 3rd phone calls, managing the pitch process, and helping continue to define and tweak your value proposition.  What they aren’t going to do is the constant touchpoints needed to make a new conversation happen, or build a sophisticated tech stack that creates a more efficient and repeatable process.

The Hunter

  • Pros:
    • High energy and high activity, you know these folks are working every day to make conversations happen with the prospects you want/need
    • Understand that proactive new business is sales, and that means it takes time, energy, numerous touchpoints, and the willingness to hear “no” often in order to get the next meeting
    • Do not get discouraged by an objection or rejection as it is all part of the hunt
  • Cons:
    • As an early stage funnel operator, the high energy that they operate under may not translate to highly organized thoughtful pitches, and as such balls can get dropped in later stages
    • Living for the hunt can often mean being highly focused on what’s working, and may not always translate to flexibility in trying new approaches
    • High energy also doesn’t typically lend itself well to create complex new systems within CRMs and automation tools

When to hire (and not hire) a Hunter?

If you find yourself with a well thought out, differentiated value proposition, and you have a full tech stack and data that is ready for a sales rep, then drop this person in and watch them go!  BUT, if you don’t have an organized process or you have a sub-par story to tell at the moment, then you will have someone out there putting a ton of energy into conversations with them constantly going nowhere.  The agency needs to properly channel this energy through organized easy processes and a clear story.

The Builder

  • Pros:
    • Great at organizing a tech stack of CRM, marketing or sales automation, and data in order to compliment any new business efforts
    • Constantly digging up research that can be beneficial to any new business effort at either the top or the bottom of the funnel
    • Understands attribution, which allows them to better follow which approaches are working best and where
  • Cons:
    • These folks are analysts and thinkers, which is a positive, EXCEPT that eventually we have to stop analyzing and start communicating
    • Often outreach does not happen, because we are looking for a perfect silver bullet for each individual prospect which in turn causes paralysis
    • This is not a top of funnel warrior and as such, each opportunity that does get uncovered will be that much more important because there will be fewer in the pipeline

When to hire (and not hire) a Builder?

If you find yourself at the beginning of your new business journey and you feel like you have a hunter/storyteller already that can generate the conversations you need, but you have no back end system put in place, then get yourself a builder.  Sometimes these people already exist within your organization in Account Management or Marketing, so take an extra look in house.  Don’t hire them if you are looking for pure top of funnel activities as their energy will not be properly directed at hunting those new prospects you are aiming for.

 

Now, these are over-generalizations of people and certainly, people exist in the world that inhabits two or even all three of these new business types.  The problem is that they can be hard to identify in the wild, and some may misrepresent themselves (knowingly or unknowingly).  So as an agency owner, take your time thinking through exactly where your firm is at in your new business process.  If you have everything covered, but just need those calls made – get yourself a Hunter.  If you don’t have a great value prop identified and need to reposition your agency – think about a new Storyteller.  If you want better attribution and to create a scalable and repeatable new business process – look harder at that Builder persona.

There is a reason that we here at Catapult are built-in pods of 3-5 people per client.  We want to maximize the skills of each individual in order to help drive new business at each stage in your funnel process.  If you want help identifying the persona you need next, or to hire a ready made team, get in touch!

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New Business Opportunities in 2021

New Business Opportunities in 2021

By now, many of you have read the original and probably seen articles referencing AdWeek’s recent survey of marketer’s plans in 2021. The headline takeaway is that “40% of brands MIGHT seek new agencies”.  It’s an exciting prospect that near half of brands are going to be looking for new partners in the new year, which definitely means opportunities for agencies to go out there and strike up conversations with brands that they want to work with.  

Take Advantage of Nearly Half of Brands Looking for New Partners

In my opinion, your opportunity to grab a new brand is much higher than the 40% they refer to.  Here’s another chart in the article I found much more interesting and telling for where brands sit regarding the evaluation of their agency partners: 

Adweek Intelligence Survey

The chart above asks “How would you rate the performance of your agency since the start of the Pandemic?”  20% of agencies performed below expectations, while 48% performed at a level defined as “What was expected”. 

Exceeding Expectations is Key to Finding New Business Opportunities in 2021

To me, as a new business person, I read the words “what was expected” and see so much opportunity.  People don’t fall in love with meeting expectations.  When was the last time you heard your boss say “you meet expectations, we are giving you a huge promotion!”  Probably never.  People fall in love with agencies (or any service/product/person) when it blows away their expectations, redefines their expectations, or it solves a problem they didn’t even realize exists.

While those brands that had their expectations met may not be actively searching for a new agency at the beginning of the year, it’s more important than ever that we are speaking to those brands about how our agency is, in fact, exceeding the expectations of our brand partners.  Business Development doesn’t only happen when someone has an RFP ready and is in search mode.  It never stops.  In a market like this, that is constantly changing, we need to consistently be talking with our prospects about their industries, their needs, and where we see opportunities.  You never know when budgets will change or a new decision-maker will step up at a brand that you are pursuing and change everything about their current agency relationships.

How to Approach Brands in the New Year

When we are approaching brands in 2021, we need to focus on our expertise in solving their problems more than ever.  While past expertise in the pre-covid market may not perfectly translate to this new world, leaning heavily on your expertise within their specific industry and a specific pain point facing your current clients will lend immediate credibility to your outreach efforts.

With only 1/3rd of the brands out there in love with their agency results, you can absolutely bet on the fact that there will be more agency movement next year than the predictions say.  It’s time to be proactive with your prospect conversations and make those prospects fall in love with you.

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Top Tips for New Business Prospecting During the Holidays

Top Tips for New Business Prospecting During the Hollidays

The holiday season can be a tough time for new business pros as they try and navigate prospects’ holiday time off, end of year meetings, and planning cycles for the new year.  While there are certainly hurdles for prospecting during this time of year, at Catapult we’ve seen some serious new business opportunities created for our agencies purely because we continued to push for conversations when all of our competitors began to slow down. The key is that you keep your approach flexible with some creative ideas and language. Here’s some tips for new business prospecting straight from our experts at Catapult.

Top tips for new business prospecting during the holidays:

Actionable change takes time

With any big structural change, results can take time to show up, especially in the digital realm. Having those conversations with brands right now means they could see results within Q1, so our job as new business professionals is getting marketers to be thinking that far ahead and evaluating how we can help move that Q1 needle for them.

Don’t forget the phone

We’ve found our phone outreach to be more successful during the holidays. Execs are prone to answer the phone more often during the holiday “slow down” when there are fewer meetings on their books. Less meetings typically mean people are in better moods and more willing to take a chance on a cold conversation with someone new.

Set meetings for January

Calendars are likely more open at the beginning of the year, and prospects may appreciate you not asking to speak right then during the holidays. Our experts at Catapult have found success with reaching out in November and December to schedule a meeting for January. While typically we don’t want to schedule that far out, this is the one time of year where we may employ a delay tactic in order to ensure the prospect has time to commit to a real conversation.

Try weekend mornings

Mornings during the weekend and fringe holiday days, like the Friday after Thanksgiving, tend to be very productive for prospecting. Top executives and decision-makers are rarely away from their computers and it’s a way to reach people while many of your competitors take time off. Prospects also tend to have less crowded inboxes during the weekend. Just ensure that if you are going with this method that you are sending 1:1 ABM emails and not mass spam messaging (for that matter, don’t ever send spam messaging!).

Hone in on un-spent budgets

Don’t be afraid to send those “last-minute budget emails” to see if there is budget left in year-end that needs to be used. Encourage them to invest with you now and implement into their 2021 strategic plan. 

Be mindful of the season

This shouldn’t have to be said, but please remember that it’s not all about Christmas for everyone. Being understanding in your language to all of the major holidays and the fact that some people don’t celebrate any of them can ensure that you don’t land yourself in an awkward situation.  

Take advantage of New Year’s resolutions

It’s the biggest time of the year for gyms, weight loss programs, diet fads, healthy bars, drinks, vitamins, etc. and marketing efforts for those brands is crucial right now. Brands are looking to make serious shifts in how they market themselves as it relates to New Year’s resolutions given the COVID environment. In the same way that people make New Year’s resolutions, brands do too.  There’s always something they want to change in the new year, it’s up to you to find it!

Call the right people

C-level, EVP, and SVP executives are most likely working on the days most people take off. With their colleagues on PTO, there may be a great possibility of those prospects picking up a cold phone call or answering an interesting email.

Try handwritten notes

Handwritten notes to top prospects explaining your capabilities can help break through the emails and voicemails that haven’t caught their attention. This one may be tough given the current work from home status of many companies, but we are seeing some folks working back in their offices a couple of days a week. 

Keep it fresh

Continue to add new contacts to your pipeline and refresh the ones you have. With the current changes from COVID, a lot of your old connections have left or moved companies.  Regardless of COVID, we always see some of the biggest shifts in people around this time of year.

Be brief

Keep your messaging short and sweet. Break through the thousands of other sales and promotional emails with brief messaging, human tone, and well-crafted subject lines. And don’t forget to address a pain point. No one wants to read an email all about yourself and what you do.  This stands for post-holiday as well, but it’s even more important now when your prospects are being inundated with graphic heavy, self promotion from your competitors.

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Three Things Your Agency Can Do While Others Are Standing Still

Three Things Your Agency Can Do While Others Are Standing Still

You’ve built and run an agency because you wanted to change (or at least impact) the world. That’s what agencies do, right? They are the driving force for almost everything we consume – be it a product or perspective. Agencies connect consumables to consumers. And even though many things are fluid, we have not stopped consuming.

But as brands strive to navigate how to appropriately and effectively engage their consumers, they’ve found themselves in need of new perspectives, new capabilities, new expertise, and new trusted partners. We know that consumers are open to hearing from brands.

“A 4As research survey [conducted during the week of March 16] of 1000 consumers looking at changing consumer attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic found that 43% of respondents said it’s “reassuring” to hear from brands they know and trust, while 40% want to hear what brands are doing in response to the health crisis. Only 15% said they do not want to hear from brands at this time.”

But brands need a guide to effectively dialogue with their audiences.

It is imperative to recognize that your agency has a unique opportunity to lead during this time. You’ve built a team with the capability to deliver unique insights and captivating executions. You are positioned to be the expert that brands need in order to navigate a challenging time. Your clients have depended on you for innovation and now is no different. Yes, there is a changing landscape, but you run an agency – adapting to new, critical information is nothing new for you.

If your agency stands still, another will step forward and move you further back from A) a position of impact B) a driver in economic recovery for our country, your clients, your company.

Here are three things your agency can do while others are standing still:

1. Provide a Guiding Perspective

There’s always noise. Especially now. But, given the circumstances, the impact of the noise feels a bit more overwhelming. Be the guide that your clients & prospects need. Help them cut through the noise with a perspective on what you know that matters to them and why it’s important for them to evaluate. Provide a few, clear insights that can drive effective communication between their org and their audience. Note – having a perspective doesn’t mean knowing everything. One of the most dangerous things you can do in this environment is to step outside of your expertise.

2. Balance Confidence and Humility

In our industry, “sales” is rarely a welcomed principal or desired activity. However, the world is driven by communicating the value of a product, service, or idea to those who need it. Right now, there are tens of thousands of brands that are in need of the value you offer. Be confident in that value offer but also engage with humility. Most of us are open to helpful insights but turned off by unnecessary egos.

3. Be a Good Human

Most humans aren’t so great at change. We are all disrupted right now. Be sensitive to the fact that every person you are engaging with may be dealing with different stress. Whether it’s closures, a remote work environment, children at home, or new budget cuts, we are all working around new challenges. Use your time and assets to build and invest in relationships and providing assistance. That goes a long way with most other humans.

 

We understand the agency world is perpetually volatile.

But, it’s a bit easier to be a good partner when the world isn’t confronted with a pandemic-induced lockdown. How you show up during a time like this will have a significant impact on the long-term health of your business and client/prospect relationships. The current landscape creates an opportunity for you to show your clients and prospects what a great partner is. Now is not the time to stand still. You’ve invested in a team of experts, position them to deliver. Leverage your expertise to educate clients and prospects in how they can progress, if not excel, during this time. Be mindful of others and your investment in relationships will be fruitful.

Leading from the front is not easy. It requires confidence, intention, willingness to be scrutinized, and perseverance. But when the world and our industry begin to normalize, you’ll be better off leading the way than trying to claw your way out of the bottom of the pile.

 

As always, if you have questions, feedback, or want to discuss agency growth, you can reach me at ericb@catapultagencygrowth.com.

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6 Interview Questions For Agency Business Development Directors

6 Interview Questions For Agency Business Development Directors

The average agency-client relationship lasts 36 months, which means at any given moment one of your competitors is about to lose a client. But what if you were the one that is losing the client? Do you have the resources in place to make sure you can protect your agency from the inevitable turnover of clients? 

The first resource your team needs to be investing in to protect against churn is a proactive Business Development Director.  It should come as no surprise that experienced business development professionals capture a bigger slice of the new business pie than those just getting started. The tough part is identifying those directors with the right type of experience to best grow your firm.

In order to help you identify those Business Development Directors with the right type of proactive experience, we’ve listed out 6 interview questions for your next internal or outsourced partner.  Being smart with these questions can make a massive difference in the amount of growth your team experiences this year.

6 Interview Questions For Agency Business Development Directors

How much “hunting” have you done?

New business—indeed, any sale—is about experience in the field.  Isn’t it amazing how the best new business people always seem a bit lucky?  A lot of “right place at the right time”. Well it isn’t luck, it’s hours and hours of experience working through what prospects want and need so that their message is the one bubbling to the top over all the other agencies out there pursuing new business.

How comfortable are you with approaching a prospect cold?

Cold calling or cold emailing is a complicated business. Even with tools to increase your chances of setting appointments, you have to be able to handle rejection (or worse…the cold loneliness of no response) every day without letting it affect the next conversation. If you find someone that thrives on making conversations out of nothing, then you’ve found a keeper.

What role did you play in helping to win a new client?

There are many stages to a new business win. Your potential new employee may have been involved in the first outreach call, set the appointment, gave the presentation or closed the business.  It’s vital that they can recognize the value of their contribution—without over-valuing it. New business acquisition is often a team sport and we want to make sure that their expertise fits in the current team’s mix and brings value to any new business engagement.

Were you involved in face to face meetings with clients or teeing up initial conversations? What has been your involvement with client new business presentations?

While closing and prospecting are both important, they are two totally different skill sets. Many agency new business people come from a background of receiving RFPs and responding to them.  That’s a very different task than going out and creating opportunities out of nothing. If you’re moving into a more proactive new business approach, your new business person needs to reflect this move.

How do you go about building strong relationships?

Business development is all about maintaining and improving relationships. Transparency, honesty, mutual respect and shared interests are as vital in a sales engagement as they are in any other relationship, and sales professionals who excel at managing their relationships are more likely to be viewed as trustworthy by their clients.

What would clients you closed say about you?

No candidate is going to lead with a negative, but the reason you ask this question is to gauge their willingness to be candid and honest about their weaknesses.  We also want to find out what do they really value? Do they put emphasis on their ability to connect, to persuade, find a problem, or identify a solution? Their answers will open many new questions about their personal style and how they might go about helping potential prospects learn more about your agency.

Finally, if your reaction to a candidate isn’t an emphatic “yes,” it’s a “no.” If they can’t sell themselves then they certainly can’t sell your agency.  Time to keep looking!

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Agency Awards To Consider In Q4

agency awards to consider in Q4

Awards are the best way to get independent feedback on the quality of your work. We understand entering takes time and added resources, but the reward is worth the effort. Similar to our Q3 list, here’s a quick glance at the agency awards to consider in Q4. Winning, or just being a finalist, is a huge PR opportunity that differentiates you from your competition. Awards also help your prospects identify who is doing some of the best work and the impact they make on client success.

Your hard work and innovation needs to be recognized. These are the agency awards to consider in Q4:

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Brands are always looking for innovative outside partners, and showcasing an award you’ve won is that meeting point.  It helps validate your work and honors your team of experts. Not to mention, winning is guaranteed to enhance your credibility among clients and prospects.

Great agencies focus on their clients’ goals, and award programs provide you an opportunity to take a step back and review how others in your category are creating success stories for their clients. Make sure you are selective about the awards you enter. Your entry should accurately represent what you do best, and remember to always be honest with yourself about where you stand among the competition. And if you don’t win, make it a learning opportunity for your agency. Share with your team why you feel another agency won, and how you can elevate your entry next time. Insights and discussions around what your competition is doing will only make your team stronger.

As you plan for 2020, think about how you can start off the new year in a big way by earning a prestigious award!

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8 Tips For Closing The Sale

8 Tips for Closing The Sale

Let’s set the scene here: You’ve managed to secure a meeting with a C-level executive for a global brand, and now it’s time to deliver your presentation and make your pitch. What happens during the next hour will determine whether you have a shot at closing the account or not. With that being said, many agencies say their biggest struggle is their sales approach and that they don’t fully understand what an executive hopes to get out of a meeting until it’s too late. So let’s rethink the entire process for your agency with these 8 tips for closing the sale.

If you ask a dozen sales people for their best tips on closing, you’d probably get a dozen different responses. While many sales techniques are as different as those who are executing them, there’s still some tried and true tips everyone should use to effectively close.

Here are 8 tips for closing the sale and winning big business.

1. Earn the right.

Before you can close the deal, you must earn the right to do so. You earn it by delivering on your promises, consistently following up, and showing up for meetings on time, every time. Make it clear during every interaction with the prospect that you are well prepared and eager to serve them and increase their bottom line. Focus each touchpoint on how you can help them instead of what you can get out of them, and you will eventually earn the right to ask for the sale.

2. Make the work the focal point.

Brands primarily want to see the work an agency has produced. Your opening remarks on a call or greeting during an in-person meeting should last no more than five to ten minutes. As the agency principle, you may provide some background of the agency’s culture, but should not waste time trying to impress the prospect with your industry philosophy or views of the landscape. Just get to the good stuff. It’s what your prospects want to see. 

Find a simple way to provide your current list of key clients or accounts, so they can see if there are conflicts or similar businesses. Make sure a creative director is available to give more detail on your work.

3. Provide context and results.

Brands want to know how your agency uses creativity to solve business challenges. Don’t just show the highlights – prospects want to see your full scope of work. Case studies work best in order to clearly articulate your client success. When presenting case studies, use context, action, and results (CAR). Give a brief overview of the challenge for each campaign, and discuss the action you took, and with some key results. We also recommend including a timeline of your project or cost data to show your efficiency. Be prepared to defend your creative choices while presenting case studies in a way that reinforces your client’s trust and makes it hard for your prospect to live without you.

4. Sell more value.

In a price-sensitive market, you win the business when you can show more value than the asking price. Value is determined not by the market, but by your customer. Show them your product or service is more valuable than the price, and the sale is yours.

You can also showcase how your ideas translate across different mediums to prove your value. Share at least a handful of case studies that represent your portfolio across various categories. Don’t worry if there isn’t anything specific to the vertical your prospect competes in. Brand executives will expect to see work that goes well beyond their own category. 

 5. Prepare and plan.

If you’ve spent the time to make your prospect understand your value is greater than the price you are asking, it’s time for you to prepare and to plan for the close. Preparing includes all the information, paperwork, forms, etc. you need to move forward and making sure you’ve had the right conversations with the right people. You should also anticipate any last-minute objections your prospect might have and how you will respond to them.

6. Make them understand you’re different.

Your prospects want to know your unique capabilities. Identify what makes you different from the agency down the street — those are your superpowers. Maybe you have a specialty in a particular vertical, like experiential activations or events. Maybe you have a lot of experience with a particular target audience, have done work in a specific product category, or you’ve launched new brands with tremendous success. Look for opportunities to consistently reinforce your superpowers to prospects.

7. Under promise and over deliver.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of promising something you cannot deliver. If your product or service takes some time to fully execute, never promise you can deliver something sooner. It’s common sense, I know, but you’d be surprised what someone will guarantee when they’re under the pressure to close the sale. 

If you under promise, you’ll have ample opportunity to over deliver. Why over promise when it already takes long enough to gain trust from your buyer? And when you exceed the expectation you’ve set, your prospect will realize your agency can be an essential part of their business.

8. Ask for next steps.

After any touchpoint with your prospect, ask the customer what the next steps would be. If they are unsure, make suggestions of steps that move you closer to closing.  Keep in mind – the next step could be to finalize the deal, but often, inexperienced sales people add too many steps before trying to close.

We hope these 8 tips for closing the sale guide you during your sales cycle with the prospect you’ve always dreamed of working with. Being skilled at closing is arguably one of the most important techniques to master in sales. If your agency wants to improve your current sales process including positioning, pitching and closing, contact us today.  Whether you need to elevate your existing business development plan or don’t know where to start, Catapult can assist in creating new business opportunities that will help scale and sustain your agency’s growth.

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