Posts Tagged ‘agency prospecting’

Winning Your Next RFP: Get on the Brand’s Winning Shortlist

Winning Your Next RFP

Many times when a brand releases a Request For Proposal (RFP) to the public, they already know who will win their business. This often-overlooked fact will keep you from getting on their shortlist. 

Brands come up with an RFP after conversations are started around problems they’ve experienced internally. They’ve already talked to agencies, and these conversations are much less formal than a pitch, giving those agencies who started these talks early a winning chance before you even see the RFP. 

So how can you get on the brand’s shortlist before an RFP is released? It takes months of build-up to get in front of the RFP process, but with a proactive and consistent approach, you can save resources and turn out a higher win rate for your RFPs. 

Before going into another pitch, it’s a worthy exercise to answer these three questions first:

  • Which RFPs do I have a right to win?
  • What can I do to get in front of brands before the RFP goes to bid?
  • Is there a way to win the bid before the RFP is out?

You can watch the webinar here or keep reading to learn more. 

Which RFPs do I have a right to win?

The first question you need to ask is whether you fit the profile the brand is looking for. Many RFPs include specific employee numbers to gauge size or capabilities along with questions around vertical or industry expertise. Before jumping in and dedicating the time and resources it takes to submit an RFP, make sure there is a real problem you can solve first.

Brands are doing their own research:

  • 85% are conducting their own research before contacting a potential agency partner.
  • 85% seek industry experience.
  • 78% investigate 5-10 agencies before compiling a shortlist.
  • 67% look at case studies.

You have a Right to Win when you can meet the capabilities, staffing needs, and expertise in a given area. Draw those boundaries firmly and stick to them. You will improve your win rate just by doing this. 

What can I do to get in front of brands before the RFP goes to bid?

To get in front of the line, you have to meet brands when they are in problem-solution mode. This is when they know there is a problem within their brand and have clearly identified this, but have not framed out a solution for it. That is when you want to start conversations so when the brand does go to RFP, you’re in the room to pitch or you’ve been hand-picked and the RFP is simply a formality to winning the business. 

Think of the day brand marketers have – jumping from one meeting to another while balancing their day-to-day workload and addressing problems the company is facing across all departments, from digital transformations to the next TikTok trend. In between all of this, wouldn’t you want to talk to an agency that is proactively coming up with solutions to your problems?

A proactive approach to new business development will look different from the response-based approach. In an RFP pitch, you can expect the solution to be clearly articulated, but when you’re proactively having conversations your first meetings are intended to uncover problems the marketing team is facing. From here, you can begin to create the outline of a solution and share this with them when the timing is right.

Is there a way to win the bid before the RFP is out?

The short answer is yes, absolutely! But it will not happen overnight. A successful new business development director will understand how to navigate the sales process while maintaining a positive relationship. Because ultimately, they will know that timing is the biggest factor in closing a new deal than any other metric.

How many times have you lost a pitch and heard the client share that they liked your ideas but had to go with someone else? Many people would call this a loss, but it’s an opportunity to keep a door open. Whether that door is opened because you lost an initial pitch or through other avenues, there is always a chance to win another deal when the timing is more suited. So how do you keep up with the brand over time?

A sales leader should keep in touch with the brand in an authentic way, and continue to learn about the problems they are facing. This consistency will keep you in the loop when the next RFP goes to bid, and when it does, they will have you in mind when creating the specific criteria needed to win. 

Get more insights like this from Catapult and Winmo in this webinar where we share Secrets to Beating the RFP Process.

Getting Started With Lists

 

Continue Reading

On-Demand Webinar: Secrets to Beating the RFP Process

Secrets to beating the RFP process

Many times when a brand releases a Request For Proposal (RFP) to the public, they already know who will win their business. Brands come up with an RFP after conversations are already started around problems they’re experiencing internally, and have talked to agencies about that problem. These initial conversations are much less formal than a pitch but can lead to the RFP process. So how can you get on the brand’s shortlist before an RFP is released?

It takes months of build-up to get in front of the RFP process, but with a proactive and consistent approach, you can save resources and turn out a higher win rate for your RFPs.

In this webinar, Catapult and Winmo share strategies and tactics to beat the RFP process.
The following questions are discussed:

Which RFPs do I have a right to win?
What can I do to get in front of brands before the RFP goes to bid?
Is there a way to win the bid before the RFP is out?

These questions are answered during the recording, but you can submit your questions through the chat and the Catapult team will be able to respond in real-time.

Getting Started With Lists

 

Continue Reading

The Discovery Call: Your Chance to Uncover An Exclusive Opportunity

The Discovery Call: Your Chance to Uncover An Exclusive Opportunity

A discovery call is the first of many conversations and can be defined as a time to uncover where your prospect is in their buying journey. Before guiding the conversation toward services or capabilities, you need to first meet them where they are.

On a successful discovery call, the prospect asks 8-10 questions on average. With about 30 minutes scheduled, what do you do with the rest of the time to make sure the call is successful?

What Makes a Discovery Call Successful?

A great discovery call will allow the prospect to do most of the talking, provide you with insights needed to navigate the deal further down your pipeline, and open the conversation up for those opportunities. In the end, you want the prospect to ask for a follow-up conversation. Getting that meeting scheduled before hanging up the call is the best scenario you could have. The whole goal is to get to that next meeting, but the first objective is to figure out if this is a fit, not just for the prospect, but for you as well. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to be honest about that.

Before going into your next discovery call, prepare yourself for the questions that you want to ask, but more importantly, be prepared to answer their questions. It’s hard to know exactly what will get asked, but you can anticipate these through preparation.

These are the top questions Catapult receives from agencies who are scheduling a discovery call for the first time:

  • What is the difference between meetings with inbound vs outbound leads?
  • How do I prepare the team before meeting with a prospect?
  • How can I use Winmo to prepare for these calls?

Eric Brown
VP Client Engagement at Catapult

“These are important foundational questions because not only does it make you think about your overall strategy for the call, it’s also giving your team a method to assess what kind of information you want to pull out of your prospect. Prioritizing what you need from this first call and helping the team prepare will really ensure you ace it.”

What is the difference between meetings with inbound vs outbound leads?

There is a big difference between inbound and outbound leads. Think of it as warm vs cold. Inbound is coming in through a relationship referral, your website, or they’ve reached out and connected with you because they want to hear more regarding your capabilities. There is already a specific need or project in place, and the conversation revolves around that.

An outbound lead is a conversation that you asked for, and the client likely won’t have a specific project or criteria defined. That presents a challenge when you’re wanting to win new business because it’s not as simple as sharing your capabilities deck. You have to uncover a problem that they have not yet acted on. So the main difference is that there isn’t a project or Agency of Record need to be scoped out yet.

How do I prepare the team before meeting with a prospect?

The first rule of a discovery call: don’t share your capabilities deck. If you’re in the habit of jumping on a discovery call and immediately sharing your screen and walking through all your capabilities and background on your agency, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Is this the best way to connect with the person on the other side and understand the pain points they’re experiencing?

The short answer is no. So how do you prepare for the unknown? You do this by researching the brand and prospect. This will allow you to uncover their pain points slowly without hard selling your services. These are a few places to start your research:

  • LinkedIn connections and posts.
  • News articles and industry updates.
  • Data around media spend, revenue, ad targeting, etc.

Knowing what is impacting the company and what they’re doing in the market now will help you anticipate some of those questions you’ll get asked. Oftentimes you are not the only one on the call though from your agency.

Preparing team members for the call takes some extra time, but it always pays off. In these cases, creating a meeting brief with the information above organized and call details added will help everyone get on the same page. In the brief, you should try answering these kinds of questions:

  • Has the brand launched a new product or service recently?
  • Is there new funding or shifts in their marketing budgets?
  • What kind of influence will the attendees on the call have?
  • Does the agency experience match the brands’ niche?

How can I use Winmo to prepare for these calls?

Winmo is an incredibly powerful tool, there are a ton of insights and a wealth of data that will help prepare the team before a discovery call. These are some of the key features Catapult uses to prepare a brief for its clients.

Carolina Gastley
VP of Client Services

“I look at the company page pretty regularly. The information here shows me where the company stands, and I make sure that I know what additional products or brands the company might have under its portfolio. I also look at who their current agency partners are and what services they might already offer to the brand. The most important place I look at though is revenue and media spend to make sure their spending level aligns with my goals. Making sure this relationship is the right prospect fit based on what kind of revenue they’re working with is just as important.”


Andrew Orlando
Director of Client Engagement

“WindmoEdge is a really nice tool. This is company news that focuses on marketing spend, CMO shifts, and campaigns. This tells me what’s going on, whether they got a round of funding or they acquired a brand. You never want to get caught on a prospect call and hear them share the news that’s already happened. You might hear something like ‘I’m not sure if you saw that in the news’ and that shows you were not prepared, so don’t be that person. You want to be on top of it and know what’s going on with the brand that you’re speaking with.”

 

You never want to be surprised. You want to be a leader, guiding the conversation. Ask questions that you already know the answers to because you’ve done that research ahead of time. It’s an informed question that shows your competency and really brings value to that conversation in their mind.

Hear more from Catapult in this webinar where we share best practices on not just knowing when the call was successful for you and the prospect, but how to keep the conversation going long after the call has ended.

Getting Started With Lists

 

Continue Reading

On-Demand Webinar: You got the meeting. Now What?

You Got The Meeting. Now What?

A discovery call is the first of many conversations and can be defined as a time to uncover where they are in their buying journey. Before guiding the conversation toward services or capabilities, you need to first meet them where they are.

On a successful discovery call, the prospect asks 8-10 questions on average. With about 30 minutes scheduled, what do you do with the rest of the time to make sure the call is successful?

A great discovery call will allow the prospect to do most of the talking, provide you with insights needed to navigate the deal further down your pipeline, and open the conversation up for those opportunities. In the end, you want the prospect to ask for a follow-up conversation. 

In this webinar, Catapult shares best practices on not just knowing when the call was successful for you and the prospect, but how to keep the conversation going long after the call has ended.

 

Join this webinar to learn:

What is the difference between meetings with inbound vs outbound leads?
How do I prepare the team before meeting with a prospect?
How can I use Winmo to prepare for these calls?

These questions are answered during the recording, but you can submit your questions through the chat and the Catapult team will be able to respond in real-time.

Getting Started With Lists

 

Continue Reading

New Business Trends of 2022 – Part 1 of 3

New Business Trends of 2022

Success in the new year hinges on our ability to understand and predict the current and future market conditions around our business. For agencies, the last year and a half have brought near-constant change and amplified some of our most difficult challenges. Notably, new business development is the challenge many face right now in order to rebuild their revenue streams.

For years, business development has been an exercise in waiting for word-of-mouth and referrals to work for your agency. The hope is that if you do good work, it will be recognized by others, and they will then in turn reward you with more work. While this does happen, in an environment like the one we have in 2021 and 2022, waiting on others just is not going to cut it. In order to proactively build back our revenue, we need to understand what trends are affecting our business and how to take advantage of them for our own gain. We see three major new business trends happening now, and the first is all about people movement.

The Great Resignation

We Are Rosie recently did a study and over 63% of their survey participants said that they plan to make a job change before the end of this year. This is probably of no shock to anyone running a business right now, as we have all felt the sting of employee churn in one way or another. Whether it is an employee leaving your agency or a valued client contact leaving a brand you work with, employee movement has been near an all-time high.  

What is key about this is understanding that this movement, while disruptive to almost every area of your business, is also a massive opportunity.

Disruption is good for new business

The biggest indicator of a brand about to go through an agency review are CMO shifts.  Change. Disruption. You know what follows a CMO shift in those reviews? VP, Director, Brand Manager shifts. All of those people moving around signals changes within brands and each new person that steps in to fill the open roles left by the leaving employee brings their own new preferences for partners. Each (no matter how small) employee disruption within a brand brings a new opportunity to network, learn, and eventually partner to solve that brand’s most pressing challenges.  

With disruption comes opportunities to proactively drive the type of word of mouth and referrals that your teams need and want to increase your overall revenue. The key here is to be proactive in driving those referrals and not waiting around like in years past. That proactivity comes from creating a simple networking process in place for all of your key executives. If there is no process, then we know it will not get done. Networking almost always takes a back seat to things like client work and new pitches, so if you are not committed to dedicating time and energy to this practice, then it will surely be a short-lived fad within your firm.

Core Network Activation (as we like to call it) is as simple as:

  • Dedicate 15 minutes every morning to your networking outreach.
  • Create an immovable calendar block, so that culturally you commit to doing this every day.
  • Within that 15 minutes, the plan is to do 3 points of outreach, 5 minutes each.
  • Each outreach will be a simple, direct message simply to stay visible in a time of isolation.
    • Comment on their brand’s latest news, check in on that vendor you always work with, if you have known them for years – ask about their family
  • Be proactive in your referral request:
    • “Who do you think would be interesting for me to know?”
    • “You know our best clients are similar to you, who comes to mind that you think I should talk to?”

 


At Catapult, Core Network Activation is something that we do every day for ourselves and our clients, and it is key to kicking up dust on conversations that may have gone dark or reigniting a spark that died down when life got in the way of a client we were trying to work with. The key here is that with all of the movement and disruption that The Great Resignation is bringing to brands (and agencies alike) your new business plan has to be one that takes advantage of that disruption.  Not every proactive new business outreach has to be a cold one.  There are plenty of warm opportunities out there if you take the time and energy to cultivate them. 

Continue Reading

Brands Are Searching for 2022 Partners Now

Brands are searching for 2022 partners now

When planning for the new year, the common perception is that most companies begin planning their new year goals sometime around the Thanksgiving holiday and will not firm up their final plans until the end of the year…at best.  In fact, with the hustle of closing out a year, most will not begin goal and execution planning of their new year until January when that new year begins.  Instantly putting themselves behind the eight ball.

Here’s what we are seeing from brands planning right now

Our team did a recent survey of 50 meetings held in the month of September with brands interested in their agency’s services.  What we found was that 30% of the meetings were strictly focused on solving 2022 needs.  Four months before the new year these brands are already identifying their growth needs and evaluating partners to help them solve those challenges.  

This same survey showed that the remaining 60% of meetings were a combination of solving year-end and 2022 needs, with just 10% of the meetings focused on affecting this current year.  Most of that 10% were smaller digital projects to fix an immediate issue with a current vendor that was not performing well.  Although 60% of meetings were talking about “combined” this year and next, the majority of those were “hopeful” that they could affect this year, with the focus being on effecting next year.

Don’t miss out on Q1 revenue for the new year

Understanding ahead of time what your prospects are looking to affect and when they need to affect it is massively important to how you approach your prospecting efforts and language.  It also means that your goals for your new business plan need to be adjusted properly.  The work you do in late Q3 and Q4 to drive new business growth is revenue that won’t be seen until Q1 of the next year.  If you, like many agencies we have seen, wait until after the holidays to start your new business approaches, you will miss out on all of the Q1 revenue because those decisions are being made now.  

The holiday season can be a powerful time to make meetings and opportunities happen specifically because so many agencies are slowing down their new business efforts.  We have always felt that when your competition slows, you should accelerate, and if you want to be leading in 2022 you better be accelerating your efforts now in Q4.  Q4 conversations equal Q1 dollars.

Continue Reading

Get more out of your case studies

Get more out of your case studies

Case studies are useful guides to educate and influence your prospective new clients. While there seems to be a general consensus on the case study structure most prospects expect to see, there are real issues in how firms are presenting them. These issues can cause one of two things to happen:

  1. The case study is not read at all
  2. The case study is not convincing or impactful

Here are a few tips to get your case studies read and help your agency new business efforts:

Focus on the problem, not the solution

Human nature is wanting to talk about yourself (in this case your agency) and all the great things you did to provide an amazing solution for your client. The problem of course is that human nature from your prospect’s side is that they care about themselves, and prospects don’t identify with your solution, they identify with the problem. Help them identify that you understand their problems better than anyone else by focusing the majority of your case study on recognizing and outlining the problem they face from a brand and market perspective.

Shorten your case study

Early buying stage prospects are short on time and attention span. Help get directly to the part where they have identified their similar problem and are intrigued by an amazing result quickly. This means you need to have a graphic of your results (ie, 205% ROI) at the very beginning of your case study, and you need to give either a brief or dive right into a short description of the problem at the outset. Also, you don’t need to go through every detail of a campaign in the solution, just highlight those largest areas of impact and save some words for either your pitch or break them down in breakout areas (see below).

Make multiple versions of the same case study

Landing page, 1 sheeter, Deep Dive, Breakout Page. When you are in the new business process, a case study may have different uses. Create a landing page to use for gathering interest during a drip campaign with the goal being a lead conversion. Use a 1 sheeter as a teaser or interest driver for someone that you are in early-stage conversations with. A Deep Dive deck or page is where you can get a bit more long-winded and is useful once you have talked to a prospect about a past project and they are now interested in those solutions.

Lastly, use a Breakout Page as a mini-case study for an individual action that you took in a larger campaign to highlight that particular part of the case study’s effectiveness. If you can match up the proper version of the case study with where someone is in the buying journey you are more likely to generate a positive response.

After a year and a half of the market going through radical changes, the way you present your case studies at each stage of the new business cycle is incredibly important. Don’t forget that some of your case studies may also have prematurely aged because of the pandemic forcing massive changes to the market. If this happens, it doesn’t mean that you have to toss an old case study, just find ways to focus on specific aspects you believe can be used across verticals by focusing on the specific problems.

Case studies are important for any agency’s new business effort, don’t let yours get ignored. The work you have done is no doubt amazing. Let’s make sure people actually see it.

Continue Reading

Win More Podcast

Win More Podcast

Recently we had the opportunity to join team Winmo on their Win More Podcast to talk everything agency, or at least as much as you can cover in 40 minutes.  Throughout our conversation we talked about:

  • Challenges facing agencies pre and post pandemic
    • Generating agency new business in a sea of sameness
    • Finding your Right to Win clients
    • Keeping your employees passionate about your new clients
  • Diversity & Inclusion
    • How this is more than a trend and why agencies have been and need to continue to focus on this in order to better serve their clients, employees, and consumers
  • The rise of RFPs
    • They’re baaaack…what to do, and how to avoid falling in the same old RFP trap
  • Campaigns that we like right now
    • From the socially aware and more serious campaigns like Absolut’s #mixresponsibly to the slightly less serious Dr Rick from Progressive teaching millennials to sit down without making a sound
  • Case Studies in the new reality
    • What do you do with your case studies in your new business efforts after those case studies have prematurely aged because a little pandemic changed your prospect’s entire market?
  • Hot to continue to grow
    • Omnichannel outreach includes outbound biz dev, inbound efforts, SEO, PR, Paid Media…which should you use?

We have a lot more to come on these different topics around agency new business, but hopefully this great conversation with John Zaldonis at the Win More Podcast will get things started!  

Continue Reading

Your agency has a sales culture and it may be holding you back

Your agency has a sales culture and it may be holding you back

Every day there are more and more articles posted about the importance of your overall corporate culture.  Like this one from CEOWorld.  Agencies, in particular, tend to put an emphasis on ensuring their attitudes and beliefs are front and center on their websites in order to show their overall corporate culture.  What many of them fail to realize is there’s a secondary culture that may be holding them back, and it has to do with the way that they bring on new clients. Your sales culture is different from your corporate culture. It specifically revolves around the people, processes, and approach that you take to bring on new clients.

Corporate culture vs. sales culture

While your overall corporate culture certainly impacts this subculture, your sales culture does have a life all its own.  Now many agencies would say “we don’t do sales, so that doesn’t apply to us.”  False.  You do bring on new clients, whether they come through WOM, referrals, or outbound sales, so any interaction you have with a new client is what makes up your sales (or business development) culture.

The way you speak, interact with, present, and deliver proposals to prospective clients is massively important to ensure they are not only impressed with your work, but feel connected to your culture in a positive way.  Many agencies spend so much time ensuring culture is felt internally that they miss the ways culture is reflected externally by those in charge of new business. 

Three things that can hold back your new business and negatively impact the way your culture is viewed

1. You are too attached to the sale. 

A LOT of blood, sweat, and tears can go into a great client pitch. And while that’s important, you should care about winning business that you are passionate about!  BUT, there is a tipping point where prospects can feel you are invested in only the win and closing their business.  In the sales world, we call it commission breath.  People know when they are being sold to make the seller money vs when they are being sold to actually help solve a problem.  The best way to show a client you care about their needs is to simply be willing to walk away if it’s not a true fit.  Tell them that upfront.  Let them know you aren’t a perfect fit for everyone.  Scarcity is value.  The more you pull back from people and let them decide, the more those same people will push forward to hear more about you and your business.

2. Your sales process isn’t a process at all.

We started this off by talking about how many agencies believe they “don’t make sales”, and that tends to show up during the overall courting process.  This means mistakes are routinely made when it comes time to have a needs analysis call or the proper follow-up after a first or second call. It also happens when a proposal deck should be submitted or how to push for those final pitches and closes.  A well-structured approach that feels organized and on time is easily recognizable from a prospect. It also gives them comfort that this is not new to you and your team.  You’ve been here before and will give them confidence that you can be a trusted partner.

3. You don’t understand what your prospects are trying to achieve.

Certainly, you know they want a new website, I mean they told you that.  What you may have missed is helping them diagnose the real problem. The problem that is keeping them from achieving their larger goals that they may believe a new website will fix.  A great new business process will properly uncover those buried problems. It also helps your ability to pitch the work and your prospects better understand exactly what they need.  Prospects need to realize you are not just a service. You are a true expert ready to have a higher-level conversation that uncovers their needs. Only then will be positioned above others when choosing who is getting their work.

 

Keep focusing on your total culture. But don’t ignore that the way you view, prioritize, and organize your new business efforts is a culture unto itself and it is on the front line every day.  For your prospects, your actions speak louder than words on a website.

 

Continue Reading

Q2 is Over, But 2021 is Only Getting Started

Q2 is Over, But 2021 Is Only Getting Started

It’s been six months. Six months of a slow, methodical, pragmatism by the market to get back to some sort of normal. Slow employment and rising inflation have caused the recovery to go a bit slower than hoped, but the advertising world has been coming back faster than the individuals spending dollars. Brands recognize the recovery, feel it, and the smart ones have been investing heavily to get in front of it.

A Well-Rounded Outbound and Inbound Strategy is More Important Than Ever

Agencies have felt the brand investment this year as inbound RFP requests soar. Good news right? More RFPs, more projects, more retainers, things are starting to get back to better than normal. Yes, in this instance, more is good, BUT we can be better than the old “normal”.

The old “normal” for growth, for many agencies, was dependent on those inbound efforts and waiting for word of mouth to eventually work its way over to you. The old “normal” also had many agencies wasting thousands of dollars on pitches that they knew were longshots at best and cannon fodder at worst. This is why when inbound is high, it is more important than ever to be well-rounded with an outbound and inbound strategy. You need to know which RFPs to turn down and which companies to pursue with your outbound strategy, which all revolves around your Right to Win category.

What’s Your Right to Win?

Right to Win is defined as the prospects/brands that best fit your prospective client profile of a perfect client. Whether it is focused on an industry, size company, regionally located, etc. They are a brand that essentially should have been a client yesterday because there is no other firm more qualified or set up to work with them to achieve their marketing goals.

Here’s how using Right to Win can get your 2021 really booming in the 2nd half of the year:

1.  Right to Win clients close faster 

This is because they are brands you are familiar with, you understand their business at an intimate level, and the brand most likely recognizes that expertise because of your team’s language, pitch, and website focus. Faster deals mean more growth and profitability.

2. Pitch when you are the front runner

Pitching is far from an exact (or even fair) science. It is a costly and timely process that can pull your team’s focus to a project that, potentially, you never had a chance to win in the first place. Unfortunately, you do not know that until the end of the pitch, so let’s be sure we are only pitching those that we know are the front runners, or in the case of proactive outbound pitching, are the only ones pitching.

3. The right clients maximize all areas of your business

The inbound are low hanging fruit and the revenue feels like it’s just right there, only we know from decades of experience that taking a client because they generate revenue, rather than them being our strategic best fit can have many unintended consequences on profitability, churn levels, and employee engagement. Right to Win clients are set up to maximize profit, reduce churn, and increase employee engagement…don’t settle for revenue, aim to maximize everywhere.

Brands Are Hungry For an Expert to Help Them Stand Out

The rest of this year is going to be full of people on vacations (finally) and brands looking for help to get back out there and in front of their competition. Now more than ever, they want to hear from an expert that understands them and can help them stand out in a meaningful way. It’s time for your agency to focus on that expertise and drive those Right to Win clients right into your agency’s open arms.

 

 

Continue Reading