Prospecting For Agencies In Today’s Climate: Three Key Elements of a Successful Email

Prospecting For Agencies In Today's Climate: Three Key Elements of a Successful Email

The conversation around email is different than what it would have been just three weeks ago, and certainly before that. So let’s talk about what’s working, what’s not, and what makes a great email. Obviously, with the pretty radical changes over the last few weeks, everyone’s been adjusting to this new normal, and what worked yesterday, doesn’t necessarily work today. But let’s be clear in saying, there’s no perfect email and there’s no perfect approach, especially now that we’re all going through something nobody has ever gone through before. It’s really new ground for all of us. This is the time to take an extra minute in any outreach that you’re doing. Be thoughtful, empathetic, and intelligent about how you’re going to be approaching any new conversations with brands or prospects that you want to work with.

The truth is, we’ve already seen commerce will continue. Once we get through the initial shock of everyone saying, “Hang on, freeze, let’s figure out what the heck is going on here,” everyone is still going to have to find ways to go about their day. Brands are going to continue to have to market to their consumers. They’re just going to have to find new ways to do so. And budgets will be moving from one area to the next. With that being said, our priority at Catapult is to ensure our agency partners are the ones actually guiding brands while they’re examining this new marketplace.

There are two very different approaches with regard to emails. 

These approaches are the mass email approach and the account-based marketing approach. From our perspective, the ABM approach is where we typically find ourselves seeing the most value in our prospect interactions. Certainly, within the current climate, we would see all of our agencies needing to double down in the ABM approach even further. 

What is a custom one-to-one ABM approach?

The ABM approach focuses on getting the message of your value proposition and what you’re trying to sell in a very customized way using things you know about the brand and the prospect and incorporating that throughout your messaging. An example of that, in a normal world, would be doing specific research on an individual or company. You can look at earnings reports and try to anticipate what they’re looking for, or if they’re shifting dollars into eCommerce you should write a message about that. You could include language like, “I read recently that you’re shifting dollars into eCommerce, and you want to grow your eCommerce efforts 9%.” 

And then, the account-based portion of that, you would write a different message to different stakeholders within that company. Each level of seniority is looking at things through a different lens, so use that same value prop with your stakeholder in mind as well. As far as quantities of email, I think there’s a lot of teams that are out there plugging into something like a HubSpot or an Act-On and saying, “Here are 1000 people we’re going to send out our new business emails, and get those out and about.”

So what should be the quantity goal when you’re creating these more highly customized emails? You’ll want to keep in mind when you are creating a highly customized piece that’s going to be focused on an individual stakeholder, or group of stakeholders within the organization, it’s going to be small because it’s a lot more time consuming to dive into the research. In terms of the number of people in a cadence, it could be anywhere from 5 – 15, depending on what types of similar themes you might be able to weave through each of the individual stakeholder groups. So, it’s certainly much smaller in scale than would be a broader-based approach.

Within those groups, if you’re sending a lower quantity and you have 15 really highly targeted messages that are going out then your response rates are obviously much higher. We know this greatly changes depending on the category, vertical, title, etc., but you’re typically looking at an average of 10 – 20 percent higher open and/or reply rates. 

Our Group Directors and Business Development Directors say the same is true for them when working on behalf of our agency partners. The open rates for highly customized messages are incredibly higher, and the reply rates are sometimes as high as 5%, which is substantial if you’re reaching out to enterprise businesses as it’s far above the industry average. Our way of going about this at scale for our agency partners is by utilizing SalesLoft, which is different from a marketing automation tool like a HubSpot, or Pardot because it allows our team to take those really targeted groups and customize each one of those emails without entirely recreating the wheel. 

How do you still take an ABM approach if you’re customizing 50% of the email? This is definitely possible if you are filtering vertical information, especially, because there is a common theme people will recognize and that will resonate with a particular audience with a certain industry. Just balance your messaging with a little less personalization based on an individual or what you might know with a higher focus on their industry or vertical. 

Here are three key elements of a successful email in today’s climate:

There are three parts to successful emails in today’s climate which are research and insights, focus, and ensuring we’re being human in our tone and in our actions within these emails. 

Research and Insights

Here’s the kind of research our team is doing on a person, and then on a company before deploying any outreach. We’ll break this up into two parts – pre-pandemic, and then post.

We research any senior-level stakeholders, C level and above, and even a step underneath that. Those people typically have been interviewed by multiple different organizations, where you can go find them talking in their own words to see what they’re saying about their business. For those people, it is absolutely best to communicate on a personal level, because you’re usually getting a personal point of view during those interviews, directly, on their business. So regurgitating that back to them, answering some of the things that they’ve said is their focus. Multiple times they’ll say, “We’re going to shift everything to creative this year. We’re going to shift everything to this. We’re trying to do this.” They’ll tell you what their attempts for the year are in those types of interviews. And the interviews are everywhere. Just Google their name and you’ll be able to find them.

Whenever you get lower into brand managers and senior-level marketers, you’re not going to find a personal point of view, so it’s best to do your research on the company. Find what’s going on in the organization, especially if you get down into what their typical responsibilities are, and speak directly to that. A lot of times they will want to introduce you to someone more senior than them if you can nail down what is going on in their world. So essentially, do your research for messaging to lower titles on a company level and for higher-ranked titles, get really personal. You can also reference earning reports and use direct quotes from almost the entire C suite. Those are extremely helpful as well.

Now, in our current pandemic climate, it’s harder to do that, because things that C suite executives said last month are no longer relevant in most cases. Their focus before the pandemic was completely different than what their focus is right now.

So now that we are here, in the middle of this pandemic, it is still important to connect with individuals on a personal basis, but really focusing on what is going on in their industry and how they are affected by this new normal. If you are reaching out to CPG brands, for instance, hone in on the brand and category level, and understand the challenges they’re facing in today’s world. Position the agency in a way that the brand knows you understand the challenges they are facing. This is your opportunity to connect the dots between what your value proposition is, and the strengths and expertise that your agency has. 

Keep in mind, you never want to reach the point where you have over-researched and over-customized. Our goal should not be to write a 100-page white paper on every single one of the companies and individuals you are reaching out to, so how long should your emails be and what is the right amount of research to include? 

The email size can depend on the touchpoint that you’re on. If it’s your first one, try a few paragraphs of customization, or a few paragraphs in total. As far as customization, if your email is customized over 62%, then at that point there is the potential that you lose everything to say and you just end up sounding more like a stalker. We recommend customizing about 50% of your email which is a true ABM approach without overdoing, and sometimes even just 25% can still be a super powerful email. If you’re just talking to beverages and non-alcoholic beverages, or even if you go into just functional beverages, it sounds very targeted, very customized, but you’re only probably customizing the first 25%. 

In terms of how much time you should spend researching, Google makes it easy. You can spend 5 – 10 minutes finding most of the information you need for multiple stakeholders. Occasionally, it may take you longer, but for the most part, it doesn’t take hours to find what you need with the resources available to you these days. And a really good piece of insight can be used against different people. We’ve had much success at Catapult with our agency partners when we have done so. You can repackage your data and your narrative in outreach that you’re doing for multiple companies within the same category to save a lot of time.

When customizing emails right now, use a lot of caution in what you’re saying. If you’re trying to anticipate what the brand is planning or referring to anything that’s dated longer than yesterday, you might be better off keeping your messaging shorter, simpler, and to the point, just because there are landmines everywhere within every bit of the economy right now. Assuming you know everything that’s going on within a brand will be challenging to do right now. 

A lot of times, what we see from agencies when they first come on board with Catapult is a lot of over-research when we discuss what they’ve done in the past. They want to put together a huge insights piece that requires significant time from their research team before they ever send out the first email to whatever brand it is that they’re aiming at. They usually aren’t thinking about the fact that it will take three weeks to get the first email out once it’s built. The goal of your first email is to secure a conversation and not to sell anything, but just to provide value in what your agency can do for a brand. That kind of email can be achieved through a very short message, that maybe pulls out one little piece of an insight that maybe they already know, but it’s just showing you understand their business and then you can carry on to the next step. You don’t have to blow their mind with a single great insight and piece of research but to assume you know more about the beverage industry than the person that’s sitting in the beverage industry all day is slightly offensive. It’s all about balancing your understanding and expertise and how you can help a brand solve a problem and doing it in a very empathetic way.  

One of the best places we go for research is Winmo. We use Winmo alerts for our agency partnerships to bring information to us on a particular category, person, or company as it changes. The alerts allow us to through the right communication and messaging to put out in front of clients or potential prospects. Also, the search engine universe gives you B2B publications that focus on a particular category. 

Focus

When we talk about concentrating on a particular category, it also translates into our second point around your focus. The idea of focus is about understanding the position of your agency’s core promise which is what you do best and where you bring the absolute most value to any of our prospects. 

Why is the focus around your agency’s promise so important for your messaging given everything that is going on in the world today? 

Especially right now, people are busy. They don’t have the time to connect dots between if you’re referencing a bunch of different case studies and past work. They need to know exactly what you can do, what your core capabilities are, how you can help them at this moment. Anything other than that in your messaging will be ignored right now. It’s important to be crystal clear. If your email answers the questions: What does your agency do? What do you excel at? And How do you help? You are on the right track. It’s more important than ever to just remove the fluff and quickly get to the point. That way, if a brand is having the same problem that you can solve, then you are at the forefront of their minds when looking for a partner. 

If you’re looking for a way to quickly talk about yourselves in any of your outbound emails or LinkedIn/social messaging, we recommend thinking about it as a sentence which answers these four questions: 

Who are you?
Who do you actually serve?
What is the problem that you’re actually going to solve?
Why are you different? 

If you can answer those four things in one sentence, then you are giving a clear view of exactly where your focus is, what your promise to a brand is, and then pushing into that area of what’s going on with them. Keeping all of this in mind while being really empathetic in the beginning shows that we’re all human and we’re all going through a whole new reality. After you have shown your empathy, we recommend including the messaging around your focus. But always remember to lead with empathy and ensure that your message doesn’t sound fake.  

Tone

Let’s talk about how your tone changes now that a brand’s focus is very different.

In terms of where we are today, one of the most important things to be is really empathetic to what everyone’s going through, and having an understanding tone. That means acknowledging what’s happening in the world, but also acknowledging the fact that you’re in business, they’re in business, and there’s still business to be done. You can do this in a very tactful way by always offering up assistance in areas where they might need help. This is crucial for emphasizing the value proposition and strengths of your agency and communicating it in an effective, tasteful way. 

From there, it is important to keep in mind that you’re not so much trying to do a hard close, even though that’s what you want in a perfect world, but rather end up with a conversation that moves the relationship along. Understand that people are a lot more sensitive now with everything that’s going on in the world, so a softer close may sound like; “If now’s not the right time, perhaps sometime when it feels right based on where you are with your business.” That sort of an approach represents the fact that “Hey, this is my job to reach out to companies and create and nurture relationships. And I know you have a job too, so let’s talk when the time is right, based on whatever is happening in your world right now.”

Your tone should never lead with fear or sound fake.

We all know that it’s going to be a tough couple of months. You don’t have to remind your prospects of what is going on or scare them into working with you. Never lead with fear, instead be as positive and optimistic as possible, while still being realistic. 

The other part to mention about tone is sounding fake. I’ve gotten a ton of emails from just all sorts of different providers offering help. And just the term “help”, comes off very fake. In that instance, I don’t know who you are, we’re not connected on LinkedIn, we’ve never had a conversation, and you just offered your help, but you’re an email testing software that has nothing to do with what it is that we’re doing, or what we’re going through right now. So the idea of just that word “help” feels very manufactured to me. 

We encourage you to position your messaging regarding help around something very specific. You could say something like, “Hey, we know that those dollars from conferences and events are going to be moving to digital, and we specialize in digital services.” Offering to help guide someone through those kinds of shifts, and where you should be prioritizing or getting the most out of those dollars, it’s a very different conversation than, “We’re here to help with anything you guys need.” It just feels very fake and cold. 

We know this is going to look different for every agency. If you do have information to leverage that’s of value, like published reports or relevant content, use it. That’s certainly a way to help without saying you’re helping, you’re providing a service. And if you don’t have those resources, it’s about using empathy and understanding to show you can solve a unique problem.  

Keep in mind, just because your agency may not have the global reach, data, and analytics as others doesn’t mean that you don’t have something of value to offer for free, which is nothing more than your own expertise, and your own ability to help provide analysis on something very specific. That’s key when we’re talking about offering to help in any of these different areas. We’re offering our help or our expertise on something that we believe they are thinking about and that’s keeping them up at night. Offering something for free can be as simple as just a conversation. Maybe that’s all they need, is just to be able to sit down and say, “Holy crap, we have no idea what we’re going to be doing with our budget over the next few months, and we’re sitting right here.” And you can say, “You know what? I actually work with three other companies just like yours, and they’re in the exact same boat. Does it make sense for us to sit down and talk this through? Would it be helpful for me to be a sounding board for you?” It’s not a crazy ask, and it sounds very personal and human and empathetic.

There’s not a brand out there that will say, “We’ve got this, we know exactly what to do.” They’re exactly like everyone else in this situation. No one has a coronavirus playbook or a pandemic playbook, it wasn’t on anyone’s radar to do this homework, and everyone’s kind of figuring it out as they go. So people do appreciate it if you do have any sort of advice that’s actually helpful. If you do have something for free, we’re seeing some success with webinars right now, whether it’s a one to one webinar, or hosting a group of like-minded people. 

In Conclusion 

It’s okay to be human and tell people, “No, I don’t know what’s going to happen two or three months from now, and no, I’m not an expert on pandemics and the way brands are going to react to every single pandemic. But what I am is an expert in is crisis communications, or SEO/SEM, or video production. And I can give you an expert’s viewpoint on those things, what may or may not happen, but more importantly, how we can potentially help you put your dollars, your budgets, your time, and everything in the right places as you go about trying to make the best decisions for your brand.”

The most important thing for agencies right now is to be consistent, be on point, and be smart about what you’re doing and how you’re saying it because, at the end of the day, this world pandemic is going to be in the rearview mirror. And if you’re being thoughtful about your outreach and communicating in a meaningful way, brands are going to be interested in you even if they’re not raising their hand right now. 

A positive free conversation right now, that means absolutely zero revenue to your agency, may absolutely turn into real revenue a year from now. All because you were the trusted, decent person who had a good conversation with them while all this was going on.

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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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Attract The Game Changer Client For Your Agency

Attract The Game Changer Client

The new year is here. And now is the time you’ll activate the plan you’ve spent countless hours on to ensure a successful, profitable year. So what are your top priorities for 2020? New business is probably at the top of the list. And creating a pipeline of the highest value, qualified prospects that are ripe for conversion is the key to success. At least part of your business development efforts and pipeline should be focused on winning the game changer client this year. I’m talking about the client that will significantly improve the health and wealth of your agency. We want 2020 to be the year you attract the game changer client for your agency.

The biggest challenge? Getting your sales positioning spot on and specific to your target list. Clear positioning will differentiate you from the competition, and should be based on how you can help your highest value prospects create competitive advantage. With that being said, it’s also important to clearly define the highest value prospects, the Game Changers, for your agency. 

So which do you tackle first when they both need to be addressed simultaneously as they inform each other? A good starting point is to gather your team and work through the questions below to ensure your positioning is spot on and a target prospect list you have the right to win business with.

Here’s our recommended checklist for creating the right positioning and target lists to attract the Game Changer client:

Positioning

Question 1: Who is your agency?

To evaluate your agency’s positioning to prospects, first get laser clear on the core of what differentiates your agency by exploring these key questions:

  • What’s your agency’s purpose? 
  • What gets management up in the morning?
  • Do you know what are your employee’s core passions?
  • What are you exceptionally good at?
  • Services/Industries?
  • What can your agency build a strong POV around?
  • What can your agency own versus your competitors?

Question 2: What will the agency look like in 18-24 months?

  • What are the agency’s revenues goals?
  • Which industries/technologies do we want to be “experts” in?
  • Do we have the services to be competitive?
  • Do we have the talent to lead the agency at that level?
  • What will our thought leadership look like?

Target Prospects

Question 1: Which type of client is the agency Game Changer?

To narrow down the highest value potential clients you want on your roster in 18-24 months, consider the following:

  • What industry(s) should we focus on?
  • What is the revenue potential?
  • Where are they in their product lifecycle?
  • What types of marketing programs do they utilize?
  • Are there any geographic constraints?
  • What type of prospect shares your agency POV and Philosophy?

Now that you’ve clarified your positioning and the game changer prospects you want to attract, it’s time to focus communications about the agency on what your customers are interested in (it’s about them, not you), so that they will want to learn more. This is the first step in building credibility with prospects.

Question 2: Do you have credibility to engage the Game Changer?

As you create your prospect list (against the above criteria) you also need to determine how ready the agency is NOW to engage them – or what adjustments need to be made for success:

  • Do you understand the Game Changer prospect’s pain points and business challenges?
  • What content (Intellectual Capital) do you have to share and engage them?
  • Is the content campaign able to generate multiple outreach occasions?
  • Does your web site and other collateral speak to the prospect’s pain points and needs?

As you work through these positioning and prospect checklists, you may find your target opportunities become significantly more qualified for your agency to win because you can focus on the ones where you have  right to win. And when you attract qualified prospects that are right for your agency you will inevitably attract the Game Changer. Here’s to a game changing 2020!

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It All Starts With The Target List: Steps To Efficient Proactive Prospecting

When embarking on a proactive prospecting program, there are some core steps that can’t be skipped over on the road to success. And the foundation is developing a solid, well researched target list.  Below are the steps we recommend to clients to set that foundation.

1. Focus On A Vertical

Catapult programs are designed around core verticals or segments. Most often we build out lists with our agency clients by selecting target verticals they are best suited for, where they have subject matter expertise and case studies to provide credibility to prospects. A narrow focus enables you to curate and create outbound messaging to all companies within each selected vertical with a high level of relevance, leading to stronger engagement faster than a general message across verticals typically does.

2. Identify Your Right-To-Win Brands

…and research them well. For each vertical selected, the company list can be narrowed by such criteria as revenue, media spend and location. By targeting the companies that you can build credibility with, you’re able to laser-focus sales efforts around their unique needs. Don’t just rely on lists pulled from your criteria. Review top business rankings lists within specific verticals we are targeting to ensure we have all relevant companies included on the lists for our agency clients.

When researching each company to determine if it fits note challenges the company and/or industry is facing. These insights are later converted into talking points for email and phone outreach. 

3. Uncover Key Decision Makers

When the list is narrowed down to the top companies in a vertical, find the key decision makers within each based on job function and rank. Who the right contacts are will vary depending on your agency’s services. For example, a social media agency surely will want to connect with a social media director. However a branding agency likely would not.

Focus on C-suite, VP and director-level marketing professionals; depending on your agency, you may also want to target manager-level contacts. What’s important is that you’re only targeting decision-makers or influencers. Pro Tip: try to find at least 5 – 7 contacts per company/brand. Experience tells us that there is rarely just one decision maker, and it’s not always the obvious one that will respond and champion engagement with your agency.

It’s also helpful to scour the web for financial statements, press releases and trade articles for mentions of other relevant contacts at the company.

And, once you’ve completed the list, make sure to import it to a CRM database so you can effectively track your outreach. A few that our clients have used Salesforce, Pipedrive, and Hubspot to name a few.

4. Dig Deeper for 1:one or 1:few personalization

Uncovering information on your contact list through LinkedIn helps confirm the employee is still with the company and remains in the appropriate role. LinkedIn is also useful for mining additional contacts in the company – you may find additional relevant prospects you have not found previously.

During this process make sure to take notes of mutual contacts, past employers, links to presentations, schools attended or other points of connection that you can use in your outreach to that contact. You will need the email address information for these contacts found outside of the database. Try looking at the email naming conventions of the other contacts in the company; 90 percent of the time the naming convention will hold for the missing emails. If all else fails, there are a number of online tools available to help find alternative email address suggestions like Clearbit, Hunter.io, or RocketReach.

At this point, you may be asking yourself how to do all this with the resources you have.

At Catapult, we’ve heard, and done, it all to try to crack the code on list building. Calling the company’s main line, filling out a web form, or hoping you have a mutual connection in your core network are not efficient or effective ways to connect with senior decision makers.

And getting the decision maker information is not an easy task. All too often, agencies rely on new business people or account people to track down prospect contact information on their own. If the contact data is even found, it’s often inaccurate and incomplete. This process eats up your team’s time and takes them away from more important business activities.  

To solve this dilemma, many agencies subscribe to database services that provide accurate, direct contact information on prospects. And they supplement this data with their own due diligence to gain information that is relevant, current and provides insights for smarter prospecting messages.

There are a number of database providers available online, such as Winmo, our sister company, which offers vetted and current prospect contact information for relevant to ad agencies, marketing firms and creative agencies. A sophisticated database and intelligence service provides much more than contact information. It also can offer company financial data, existing agency relationships and recent news articles to help you better identify your best prospects.

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

 

Your prospect data list is the most important part in agency new business outreach. If you don’t have a relevant and accurate list of prospects and an efficient way to get this data, even the best messaging will fall on deaf ears. Using the steps outlined above, supported by a database platform for efficiency and speed, makes this scalable so business development folks can spend more time on outreach, engagement and conversion to new business…and less time trying to track down contact information!

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The Ultimate Agency Growth Funnel

The Ultimate Agency Growth Funnel

Can you believe we’re approaching an entirely new decade? As you begin planning for 2020 new business, remember to plan the resources required to support that growth in the new year. While those resources will be unique to your agency’s specific growth plan, it never hurts to follow a proven formula to calculate what you need. To help with this forecasting, we’ve built an Agency Growth Calculator which evaluates your objectives and realistic requirements from each of the following steps of the agency growth funnel.

Understand Your Growth Requirements

Your KPIs are a direct reflection of your overall growth requirements. While this may seem obvious, some agencies find it extremely difficult to clearly identify their metrics for success. Here are some questions to answer during your initial planning meetings to ensure you set the right metrics:

What’s your overall revenue goal?
While there are many approaches for setting your revenue goal for the year, make sure it’s nailed down and clearly communicated prior to the new year so all parties can set operational KPIs off of that plan.

How much have you grown organically?
This gives you a good idea of the outbound effort you need after organic growth.

What’s your typical churn rate (loss of clients)?
You can only put so much on top of the funnel if you’re losing all of it at the bottom. This is why it’s important to understand how much revenue is falling off each month.

How big is this goal in comparison to new business amounts you’ve produced in years past?
Knowing how much you’re planning to grow new business Y/Y is important, particularly so you can understand the resources required to achieve that growth.

What’s your overall pitch win percentage and what’s the win percentage when they are inbound warm leads vs. cold opportunities you have generated?
Be honest when answering this question; the higher pitch win percentage you have, the less outbound effort will be required. Keep in mind that warm opportunities close at a higher rate than cold opportunities.

Have you ever generated a cold pitch opportunity before?
Many agencies rely on referrals for 100% of their pitch opportunities. While those are warm and close at a higher rate, they are not reliable or sustainable. Evaluating this gives you a better understanding for how long it can take to produce cold opportunities in the future.

Define Warm New Business Opportunities

It’s important to understand the amount of new business opportunities your agency brings in. These opportunities typically come from referrals, networking, and word of mouth. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love these lead sources? They are seen by most agency principals as the most attractive type of lead as it’s free business that came directly to you.

To help generate more of these we recommend activating your core 100 network. We define this as the core network of decision-makers with budget or marketing decision power that you have a 1st-degree relationship with. By connecting with this group at least once per month, whether a simple hello or providing them with relevant thought leadership, the likelihood of getting more referral leads increases significantly.

Lastly, while warm opportunities are nice it’s important you aren’t solely relying on them. Here’s why:

  1. They are unpredictable and you never know when your next project will be coming in.
  2. You have no control of how your portfolio expands.
  3. Losing one major client could drastically impact your revenue.

Now let’s talk about how you can warm opportunities with cold prospecting for ultimate success!

Add Proactive Prospecting For New Opportunities

Since you can’t solely rely on your referral network, you must find a way to incorporate cold prospecting into your mix. Often new business directors will wonder how much outreach is enough? How many phone calls and emails will result in a qualified meeting? We recommend tracking your success rate at each touchpoint. This allows you to know if you are consistently reaching out to enough prospects in your outreach cadence. Proper measurements typically include:

  • How many people typically reply to a cold email or call?
  • Of those replies, how many of them turn into a discovery meeting/call?
  • What number of discovery meetings turn into qualified leads?
  • How many qualified leads convert to RFI/RFP opportunities? 
  • What’s the win percentage of RFI/RFPs for your agency?

If you’ve never kept track of these numbers before, you can use benchmarks.

Our clients typically see conversion rates of:

  • 12% – 15% opens to cold emails (above industry average of 5% – 7%).
  • 7% – 10% conversion on call volume to live conversations.
  • Approximately 25% of leads moving to discovery and qualifying.
  • And 60% or more qualified leads moving to an RFI or RFP.   

Agencies that are just getting started on proactive outreach can see numbers a bit lower than these. Keep in mind many agencies underestimate how many prospects they actually need in their pool and keeping steady pipeline is a full-time job in itself. Make sure you have the resources and bandwidth necessary to fuel the fire.

Estimate The Investment: Time and Money

If you’re an agency executive responsible for driving new business and running the entire agency, be aware of what that double duty is costing you.

If you’re juggling too many tasks, it’s likely you are completing projects, but not doing them exceptionally well. As an agency executive, your time is best served strategically looking at ways to grow the overall business, not just through the lens of new business. If you’re worried about the time and investment it would take to hire someone in-house, we can manage this function for you at Catapult. There’s huge potential in having someone solely focused on bringing in both cold and warm opportunities for your agency.  

 

Now that you have a better understanding the agency growth funnel, what goes into forecasting your new business goals, and the resources required to hit them, check out our Agency Growth Calculator to see how the numbers line up for your business!

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A Brand New Look For Catapult

A Brand New Look For Catapult

Big news today! After almost twenty years, we’re introducing a brand new look for Catapult with an updated brand identity. You’ll see our new branding translated throughout our client communication, social platforms, and upcoming trade show events, like the Mirren CEO Summit in November. Our new look and feel matches what we’ve become since 2001: the leading agency business development partner.

Why Change The Catapult Brand?

Catapult has grown over the years in a way that better serves our agency clients, and we felt it was time for our brand to reflect who we are today. Our services have evolved from strictly new business lead generation to end-to-end growth consulting and business development activation.. Our design goal was to recreate the look and feel, and language, of our brand to better match our tone – positive, proactive, approachable and professional – with a strong focus on results. And we wanted our brand to portray the key elements in our story: growth, the trebuchet that our name comes from, and a modern partner fully versed in the latest tech, tools and trends. Here’s a little about the meaning behind the new Catapult logo:

 

What hasn’t changed? How We Impact Your Growth.

While we love our new brand (and website – check it out at www.catapultagencygrowth.com, at the end of the day what matters to you is what we do for your agency. Our sole purpose is to create growth through strategy, demand and lead generation, and pipeline conversion for agencies of all disciplines. Here’s a quick summary of how we do it:

  • We amplify your agency’s story to the right prospects
  • We differentiate your positioning to leverage unique, ownable USPs
  • We create awareness and demand for your agency
  • We generate qualified meetings with key decision makers
  • We grow your lead pipelines so they are ripe for conversion

 

We hope you like our brand new look and feel for Catapult as we continue to best serve the agency landscape and build a sustainable pathway to growth for all our clients.

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Preempting A Review From Mirren’s Brent Hodges

Preempting A Review From Mirren's Brent Hodges

When a new decision maker arrives, when do you move to preempting a review? It can hit like a ton of bricks – the client call where you’re told that a full review has been called for your portion of their business. Even in a project-based world, your goal is to retain all current scope – and increase it. One of the key drivers client-side that influences a significant shift in scope across roster agencies is the arrival of a new senior decision-maker. This creates one of the most feared agency challenges: becoming an “incumbent,” or worse, being removed from the roster.

In this brief video with Mirren’s Brent Hodgins, he addresses the Mirren CEO Summit about the first thing to do when you find yourself in this situation. Miss this critical opportunity and your odds of retaining any of the business drops by the minute.

Learn more about the annual Mirren CEO Summit at https://www.mirrenceosummit.com/

Preempting A Review From Brent Hodgins of Mirren

It’s the moment a new client is announced.

Too many agencies, I remember being guilty of this too, wait too long. So I remember this happening, I think it was actually at TBWA, where client got fired, new client comes in, I think it was on Barnes and Noble. And we thought, “We’ll let him settle in, we’ll give him two or three weeks to settle in. He’s probably pretty busy right now.” So before we sort of even realized it, a month has gone by and we haven’t heard from the client. And we’d also kind of said to ourselves, “I’m sure he’ll call us, we’re the continuity. We can show him what we’ve been up to.”So after a month we start sending the emails, “Hey, I’m sure you’ve been really busy. Just thought we’d check in. We’d love to show you what we’ve been up to and what’s going on with all the marketing and advertising,”

And crickets. Like no reply from the client.

So a couple of days go by, and we’re like, “Did you get the email back? I didn’t get one either.” Start calling, leave a voicemail, “Hey, not sure if my email made it through. Just checking in.” No phone call back. And then all of a sudden, now five, six weeks in, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Oh my God, he doesn’t want to speak to us, like he’s not interested, something is wrong here. You know that sinking feeling sets in pretty quickly.

But the moment a new client is announced is the moment your full on pitch starts. In fact, even wind it back a bit. It’s when that previous client gets fired. Soon as that client, and now even if they’re still in the building, even if their seat is warm, start preparing your pitch.

We see anecdotally, it’s when a new client comes in, it’s typically within 90 days now. There’s a shakeup on the roster, 90 days, that something is going to happen. Forget calling on the new client to update them, it’s such a turnoff. “Hey, we’d love to come in and show you what we’ve been doing. We’ve been working really hard, got some really good stuff. You’re going to love to see what’s going on, then you’ll know what’s going on.” Again, the truth is here, if the past client was fired due to business performance issues, know that by the way, you played a role in that firing because you produced the work in coordination with that individual. So you’ve got to move quickly.

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16 Must-Know Prospecting Stats For Your Agency

Prospecting for a strong pipeline is your first hurdle in the new business process, and is never-ending and always evolving—influenced by technology, budgets, and how brands work with agencies.These 16 must-know prospecting stats for your agency will help you get ahead in today’s sales environment. Keep these stats in mind as you monitor changes in business development trends and make proactive prospecting a priority in order to keep your pipeline full. 

Here are 16 must-know prospecting stats with insights on everything from email subject lines to response time on form submissions. 

1. More than 40% of salespeople say this is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%). If you find prospecting to be the most difficult part of new opportunities, you’re not alone.

2. 35% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line and nothing else.  First impressions can make or break a potential sale. Tell people right away that you’ve got something worth their time by writing effective subject lines.

3. Only 24% of sales emails are opened.

4. The average person deletes 48% of the emails they receive every day. This task takes them just five minute

5. Most prospects want to read emails at 5 and 6 a.m. Use an email scheduling tool to get in front of all the early birds to ensure you send your message at the perfect time.

6. HubSpot Research found 72% of companies with less than 50 new opportunities per month didn’t achieve their revenue goals. This is compared to 15% with 51 to 100 new opps and just 4% for companies with 101 to 200 new opps.

7. The average salesperson makes significantly more calls in the last month of the quarter. Gong’s data science team analyzed 15 months of data and found the average salespeople made far more calls in the last month of the quarter than the first two. And the success rate of those calls were usually lower than any other month. Devote time to proactive prospecting each and every day. You should be prospecting just as much on the first day of the month or quarter as the last.

8. It takes an average of 8 cold calls to actually reach a prospect. And 55% of all salespeople follow up less than four times.

9. 45% of salespeople give up after just one follow up with a prospect.

10. Even after you have reached a prospect, it can take an average of 18 more calls to actually connect with a buyer.

11. On average, 5.4 people are involved in a purchase decision, and each person’s job function and even geography are often very diverse.

12. On the first call, 6 out of 10 buyers want to discuss pricing on the first call, and more than half of prospects want to see how the product works.

13. Seven in 10 B2B buyers watch a video sometime during their buying process. Use this to your advantage by sending a customized video. Videos about product features are most popular, followed by how-tos and professional reviews.

14. 77.3% of salespeople said their company provides at least one quarter of their leads.

15. At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what your product or service.

16. Drift tested the response time of 433 companies. Only 7% responded in the first five minutes after a form submission. More than half didn’t respond within five business days.

These 16 must-know prospecting stats reflect uncomfortable truths that sales teams deal with every single day. Ready for some good news? We handle all of this for you. Catapult is the dedicated business development partner to agencies of all sizes and types. Our team of expert advisors will work alongside your internal team to implement a results-driven sales and marketing strategy that identifies and generates new revenue opportunities on a consistent basis.

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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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(Webinar) So many agencies. So little difference.

Is your agency truly unique?  Or are you one of the thousands of agencies selling the same...

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Websites are revenue generators; in fact, I’ve written about it before.  If you’re like...

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webinar

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“Catapult came to the rescue and saved me from what otherwise would have been a long and stressful situation. To have been provided with a business development professional with that level of experience and understanding of my business, well, I just couldn’t have received that anywhere else.”

Co-founder, Full Service Marketing Agency

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