Posts Tagged ‘agency business development’

Creating a New Business Opportunity in 11 Days

Agency Type

Creative Production Agency

Target

Food & Bev, Small-Mid Size Companies

The Process

Utilizing Winmo’s Intent Insights powered by Bombora, our team began their search by filtering companies within the Food & Bev category that were small to mid-sized businesses based on revenues and media spend ranges that were within our agency’s desired range.  Once we had that list built out of right-sized companies, we ran this list through Bombora’s purchase intent software to determine if any of these companies had recent surges around the terms “Creative” “Social” and “Production”.  There were 15-20 companies that all showed scores over 80, which tells us they are currently evaluating Creative and Social options.  

By focusing on this reduced number of smaller companies, our percentage of finding the right person within the company is massively increased.  These small to mid-sized companies have fewer marketing decision-makers, allowing us to focus more on custom messaging in a true Account-Based Marketing approach.  Smarter messaging to a focused group makes for more intelligent and interesting first meetings.

For this group, Jake created a 6 step email and phone cadence that covered 11 days, as laid out below:

These emails all have the same base structure and where they begin to diverge is in small customizations between each individual decision-maker when they hit step 2 in custom emails and the phone voicemail left.  

Voicemail is a key ingredient in that it puts a human voice to every interaction.  It’s important to separate yourself from the mass of others sending mass spam emails hoping for a bite, by ensuring that you are taking a multi-touchpoint approach with phone and email.  

In the end, the email that drives conversion to a meeting may be the simplest messaging.  Jake’s success came from email number six on day eleven with a call to action as simple as:

“What would be the downside of receiving a unique perspective for any upcoming creative work? “

The reply was as simple as

“Great timing, we are actually reviewing now…”

 

Agency new business (and business development) almost always hinges on timing.

Tools like Winmo’s intent data from Bombora, LinkedIn, and Salesloft can ensure that your chances of starting a conversation at the right time are higher than your competitors.

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The tech stack you need for proper agency new business development

Every year the tech stack available for agency new business pros changes exponentially it seems.  The image above is the Martech 5000 and I think it is safe to say that navigating that thing is a nightmare!  There’s always a new CRM, data source, or automation software that is promising a shortcut to immediately generating more meetings and winning more business.  In my experience, technology doesn’t provide a shortcut, but more a roadmap of exactly where you should go.

At Catapult, we believe in intelligent, timely, and personalized communications in order to best drive the right types of conversations for new business development.  This means we don’t believe in mass blasts, but an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) approach.  For an ABM approach, technology and research are massively important because it means that we know more about our prospects, we can pick the right times to do outreach, and we can use the right type of language for each individual.  All this adds up to better meetings and, in turn, more wins.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the main parts of our tech stack:

Winmo – Now we here at Catapult are a little biased (Winmo is our sister company), but in our opinion, there is no better collection of information about marketing decision makers than what you get from Winmo.  The contact information is the cleanest in the industry.  They also have all the contextual information you would want around those people to understand their agency relationships, media spend habits, personalities, and more.  Most importantly though, for any business agency person, is that they have a host of alerts that will let you know when information changes that may be important to be acted upon.  Those alerts are a game-changer for ensuring that your timing is better than your competitors.

WinmoEdge – Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right?  WinmoEdge is the key to finding that smoke super early in order to help you get in front of a new business opportunity before that opportunity has even had a chance to build up.  Edge’s proprietary scoring system takes a brand’s behavior and performance and translates that into a score that predicts the likelihood of going into an agency review.  Let us fill you in on a little secret though, most companies that use Edge start at the highest scoring (most likely to review) companies and then work their way down…but not us at Catapult.  We understand that new business is a long game and we want to get on the radar of those brands that are just beginning to run into issues that may call for a review.  This way, we dictate the RFP, rather than it being dictated to us.

Salesloft – Gone are the days of one size fits all mass emails.  Or at least those days SHOULD be gone.  In today’s environment, it’s all about putting the right message in front of the individual, which means the mass email campaigns of yesteryear are gone.  At Catapult, we have stopped using Marketing Automation and solely use Sales Automation with Salesloft now.  This allows us to send customized emails, to individuals, at scale.  If you’re a sole new business person and you are still trying to send prospecting emails or networking emails through your gmail alone, then you need to investigate the switch to Salesloft.  This will help you automate and manage each touchpoint in your prospecting efforts and sales funnel in a way that will make you 50x faster than trying to just use Gmail alone.  It also has the added benefit of using your email server for each send, so the likelihood of getting caught up in a spam filter because of a Marketing Automation’s bad IP address is reduced greatly.  More sends, better sends, what’s not to love?

 

 

Bombora – What if you knew when a prospect was looking for your exact service before they ever reached out?  That’s exactly what Bombora does.  They track a company’s interest level in specific services or keywords.  So if you’re a creative agency, you can track all company URLs within whatever industry you love and see which company is “surging” in interest around the keyword “Creative Agency”.  If they are reading content about creative agencies, searching creative agencies, then that’s probably a pretty good indication that you should reach out and say hello.  You don’t have to tell them you’ve been stalking their content consumption behavior, but don’t be surprised when you start seeing responses like “wow, crazy timing, I was just beginning a search…”.

Crystal – People are all different.  Obvious right?  Then why, oh why, do we see companies sending out messaging that is the same for 1,000 people?  Some people like humor in an email, some like detail, some want it to be short and sweet (me for instance).  The point is, Crystal evaluates the attitudes and personalities of each prospect and gives you suggestions on how to best approach them based on those personalities.  Throw in an emoji for Jim, but make sure you use bullet points for Jill.  It’s not perfrect, but damn if it isn’t close to perfect.  If nothing else, it gives you a great playbook for how to approach and navigate a sales or discovery call with one or more personalities.  It attaches directly to your Google Chrome or LinkedIn and gives you that info in real time.  Super powerful stuff.

Kantar – Media spend info can be grabbed from different places, but here at Catapult we have used Kantar for years.  The way that we use it is to simply have additional criteria when we are looking at what makes a good sized prospect for our agency client.  Many times it’s easiest to purely build backwards from your best performing client and find other prospects that have a similar spend track to them.  

Pathmatics – Similar to how we use Kantar, we use Pathmatics to get deeper information about digital advertising performance for any brand that we are interested in approaching.  We use it both at the beginning of the process to narrow down companies that spend more or less in certain areas, and we also use it when we are doing a deeper dive into a specific prospect.  Often this may come around a 4th or 5th touchpoint when we are looking for something that may help us stand out in our outreach efforts and pull an insight that potentially no other competitors have thought about talking to them about.  

Statsocial – Understanding the social audience of a brand can give you another quick opportunity to connect on a different level with your prospect.  Statsocial is our go-to tool to understand the audience demographics of the companies and brands that we are prospecting.  It also helps in comparing your prospect with another company.  Very often it’s good to show how a challenger brand stacks up against the leader in the space.  This isn’t information that the prospective brand doesn’t have, of course, but it does show that YOU understand their brand and their space, allowing for more trust and better conversations.

 

There are a host of other tech and research tools we use from DRTV info, online publications, and simple Google alerts, but these are the ones that we lean on the most.  Business Development is never simple, but if you want to truly do a comprehensive job of Account Based Marketing it’s our recommendation that your tech stack looks similar to the one above. 

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How to Accelerate Your Agency’s Lead Generation During a Market Shift

How to Accelerate Your Agency's Lead Generation During a Market Shift

Given the market shift the last 12 weeks, everyone’s asking themselves, “How do we get incremental new revenue coming into the agency given our new uncertain environment?” The key to accelerating your agency’s lead generation is through proactive prospecting. It’s understandable that clients won’t be increasing total spend until they feel somewhat confident again. However, what is already happening as people have come out of the initial shock of the downturn, is they are starting to reallocate and optimize budgets. Identifying and predicting these shifting budgets before they happen is the goal of an agency new business person right now.

During budget shifts and rebuilding of brands, our goal needs to be reaching out with the right message, to the right prospect, at the right time. You can no longer put one message out in front of the masses and hope it works.  All your outreach must be tailored to the specific individual and brand.

In order to find success during this time, you will have to drop your old, tired concept of sales. Rather, embrace sales as the idea of lead generation and lead conversion. Sales is not a dirty word, particularly if you approach it from the perspective of helping your prospects. It’s not about selling the great new services or strategic tools you have – that would mean you’re selling your features rather than your benefits and not leading with the prospect’s needs or helpful insights. Sales, now more than ever, is about being active and leaning in.

What can your agency do to accelerate your lead generation during a market shift?

  1. Identify shifting budgets.
  2. Predict where those new budgets will fall.
  3. Most importantly, retire your old view of sales to an Account-Based Marketing approach.

Imagine if you could accelerate your pipeline and shorten your sales cycles. Or what if you were able to focus on just those high-value prospects and the ones that are already predisposed to your agency. Think less waste on leads that are ultimately just going to fall flat. ABM is more strategic and more efficient while being hyper-focused and hyper-personalized in sales and marketing to a smaller number of better prospects. The ABM approach allows you to target only your most qualified prospects much harder with personalized messaging and content. 

In our opinion, ABM is more focused and faster while consuming fewer resources. For agencies at Catapult, this is the approach we use for the majority of our proactive prospecting efforts. One way you can think of Account-Based Marketing is the 80/20 rule. 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results. Most likely, if you did an analysis of your prospecting list you will find that a small percentage of prospects were actually worth all the effort you put against your proactive efforts.  With ABM, you can ensure you are leveraging your limited resources and applying them to a smaller number of better prospects that are more likely to work with your agency.

80/20 ABM approach

When it comes to ABM, qualification is key. We often see qualifications at most agencies happening too late in the pipeline. This means agencies are doing a ton of work trying to get in the door only to find out the prospect isn’t really a good fit for the agency overall. So how do you start qualifying prospects much earlier in your process? Hone in on prospects with an urgent need that your agency has a right to win and can credibly fulfill. Most agencies can’t be everything to everyone, so you want to be pre-qualifying your leads much earlier in the process and targeting them with more personalized content. We find that most agencies are spreading themselves too thin across too many unqualified prospects with generic messaging and then finding themselves in an uphill battle during the pitch process. 

Here’s how you can start shifting from the typical agency prospecting method to an Account-Based Marketing approach and get better results.

1. Start all your outreach plans with the accounts, not the offer. Who needs help that your agency can successfully support?

2. Then think through the insight against those accounts. What is their specific urgent need based on the research and insights you have into their brands?

3. After you have your insights, start curating your sales content. How can we help them?

Keep in mind, you aren’t creating content with the intent of just making them a client, but rather how can you provide value through your sales and marketing messaging. This actually marries a little bit of inbound marketing with ABM and can be very powerful.

4. Once you have curated your content, now you start thinking about channels. How should you best communicate this content in a way that the prospect can take your insights and learn from them, regardless if they are ready to have a discussion with you?

Consider if social, email, or phone is the right way to deliver your value-added message based on the insights you are providing.  Each communication channel provides value in their own unique ways.

This approach is more powerful than the typical agency prospecting. Gone are the days where you tell a prospect why you’re a great agency because you’re really creative, you’re nimble, have a great culture and you’re a “one-stop-shop”. Blending in with the other tens of thousands of marketing services firms during your prospecting efforts is a huge mistake. There is also a notion that you have to start a relationship with a prospect and after a while, they will become a client. That is not the case anymore. Relationships play a role in new business, but they are not the defining factor that will close the deal anymore. Yes, relationships will help get you in the door quicker, but they won’t necessarily help convert the business. 

ABM is also far more methodical. Ideally, you will have multiple categories, but you will be targeting them one at a time with segmented messaging. Then you confirm the organizations within the target category, and then the individual people. You really want to infiltrate the organization you are targeting. The biggest shift will be reaching out from one to many to now one to one. 

Once you have your highly targeted group of individuals you are then identifying the urgent need, developing your sales call-to-action and messaging strategy, then curating your content for the “hook” to open the door for your lead generation and conversion process. At the same time, you have articulated and optimized your pipeline and will monitor which messaging, which insight, which needs, which prospects you’re having more success with. And then you must optimize on an ongoing basis with ABM technology.

As far as ABM technologies, here are a few software platforms we recommend. Make sure you confirm the tools you need to be the most effective and keep it simple by sticking to the basics. Keep in mind most of these technologies are used throughout our partnerships with agencies.

In short, here are the 8 steps needed to shift your prospecting program:

  1. Identify high-value prospects: Leads with an urgent need that your agency can credibly fill from a category, company, and individual level.
  2. Identify urgent needs: Identify the most urgent category needs that your agency can support. Think of what is holding organizations back the most, what are their biggest constraints and opportunities that you can help them capitalize on?
  3. Sales CTA: Based on the need, what is your messaging strategy?
  4. Sales and marketing content: This is directed by your sales strategy and you’re creating insight0rich content that you are distributing through very specific channels to surround the individuals on your highly targeted pipeline.
  5. Lead generation: Once you start pushing your content you are now trying to generate a response from an individual.
  6. Lead conversion: You nurture each active lead with the goal of confirming an opportunity to work with them.
  7. Pipeline optimization: Based on your funnel, you are evaluating the performance. 
  8. ABM technology: Implement marketing technologies to increase the scale and effectiveness of your program. 

 

Being more targeted and more specific against more qualified leads will increase your lead generation and lead conversion. Right now prospects are not going to increase total spend, but they are reallocating and optimizing during this time. We encourage you to make the shift in your prospecting efforts, get organized, and start your ABM outreach to get the most effective results.

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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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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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4 Essentials to Sustainable Agency Growth

What does growth even mean? We find most agencies think growth is about adding more and more new clients to their portfolio. Other agencies believe growth is about long-term marketing efforts to build stronger awareness with prospective clients, and driving inbound new business. From our 15 years of experience working with agencies of every size and kind, we see two core things that successful agencies do well under the banner of “growth”. First and foremost, they focus on building success for clients with quality work and measurable impact in order to drive retention and organic growth. Second, they have a clear plan to drive new business through these 4 essentials to sustainable agency growth:

1. Have a workable, proactive sales process in place.

Without a structured sales process, you may take on any opportunity thinking it’s essential for the financial health of your agency. However, the cost of the client can sometimes be more expensive than the revenue it brings in. Taking on any and every opportunity happens when your sales team doesn’t have appropriate guidelines to work with. If a proper sales process is designed to help them drive quality leads, you’ll save time and money, allowing them to work more strategically and more effectively.

We find every great sales process includes:

  • Understanding the buyer’s journey and using it as your starting point to an approach based on the needs of your prospect.  
  • Clearly defining each stage of the journey and what activities are involved.
  • Identifying the value for your agency in each phase of the process.
  • Creating a strong connection between the marketing and sales team.
  • Finding the pain points of potential clients and highlighting your solutions in solving them – this is what makes your agency hard to dismiss.

2. Define your ideal client.

Buyer personas are not a new concept, but in today’s competitive agency landscape, it’s more important than ever to understand who your ideal client is, what their needs are, and whether your agency has a “right to win” with them. An effective buyer persona answers the following: 

  • What industry do they work in?
  • What is their company size?
  • Who are the key decision makers (and influencers)?
  • Where do they look for agency partners?
  • What are their key pain points?
  • Which services do they need?
  • What kind of budget are they working with? 

These questions will help focus your efforts and generate the opportunities you want.

3. Upsell and retain clients.

Many agencies are a bit passive when it comes to expanding scope with current clients. Account teams are not natural sales people, and are (rightly) focused on billable time and the business at hand. So how can your new business team help? Create a plan for each client that helps them understand other ways you can help their business. It’s an effective sales approach that benefits the client who has already experienced the quality of what you have to offer. And think about the energy and resources you’ll save as opposed to looking for new accounts. Focus on keeping current clients happy and identify new ways your expertise can bring even more value.  

4. Refine your unique selling proposition.

To understand your current unique selling proposition, ask your existing clients where they look for a new partner and how they found you. Most importantly, why they chose your agency and the measurable impact you have on their business. Your USP should not be centered on a philosophy or theoretical outcome, but rather a quantifiable one focused on your particular expertise. This is critical to differentiating yourself to prospects, helping your agency evolve, and supporting your growth. 

 

Creating, understanding, and working these 4 essentials to sustainable agency growth will create a sustainable pathway to revenue generating opportunities. We know it seems challenging to navigate the overcrowded, undifferentiated landscape at time. But by making these key areas a priority, your agency will be on the right track to repeatable, revenue generating opportunities. 

 

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Agency Myth: Narrowing Your Focus Results in Missed Opportunities

agency focus

You hear it all the time – brands are moving more advertising and marketing functions in-house. From media buying to SEO to full service offerings, every day brings news of another brand deciding it’s better, and cheaper, to do it themselves. Brand experience is the same. As brands embrace experience-led thinking, they tend to hire internal experts who understand creative through the traditional experience lenses of activations, pop-ups and live events.

This leaves your agency with two options – either expand your offerings and cast a wider net for more opportunities or waste time going against the current. But moving out of your niche causes your agency to be spread too thin. As a result, you’ll find yourself relying on freelancers to fill in the gaps and run the risk of damaging relationships and reputations by underdelivering. We’ve also seen agencies start to create friction with clients’ internal agencies who are trying to protect their shrinking piece of the pie. Both approaches can create barriers to sustainable agency growth.

We suggest a third option for success. 

Focus. It’s not a dirty word. Go narrow, clearly identify where you excel, and make it your mission to be absolutely best in class in that area. All too often we see agencies who have a fear of focusing and differentiating themselves because they are afraid of leaving money on the table.

Brand marketers continue to turn to those who know a subject area, a target audience, a technology or tool, or a sub-discipline of marketing and advertising. They want genuine expertise over generalization.  This should resonate with you more than anything. Whether you are partnering with in-house teams or part of a multi-agent effort, in order to adapt to today’s landscape, narrowing your focus should become your new normal. While it may mean closing off certain revenue streams (in the short term), it ultimately future-proofs your agency by making you an ideal partner with valuable expertise.

But how do you narrow your agency focus? To get started, here are two things to consider.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses.

This one is trickier than most think. If may seem risky to lower the number of revenue generating avenues in front of you, especially when times get tough, but the truth is, expertise will always be valued. It is critical to assess what your agency does well, and strengthen in these areas. At the same time, be intentional about removing offerings that aren’t at the core of your business, or within the capabilities of your own team. Expertise will ultimately lead to increased trust and more honest, profitable relationships. 

Build relationships with trusted partners.

“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
-Steve Jobs

We know you don’t want to say no to a prospect or client, but it doesn’t mean you should be quick to say yes. As you eliminate your non-essential offerings, reach out to partners that are experts in that field, and cultivate new relationships with them.

If clients ask you to take on something outside your narrow focus of expertise, suggest sharing the load with a trusted partner. The benefit of this is you keep your trusted relationship with the client while also building a strong relationship with partner agencies. As a result of this, there could be reverse opportunities as those partners begin recommending your team when in similar situations. It can feel risky to ask for help, but if you’ve laid a solid foundation, you should be able to avoid a situation where you underdeliver. 

Here are the benefits of narrowing your focus and finding your true point of difference. 

Fewer competitors.

When you offer everything, you’re really competing with everyone.

A few things happen when your agency finds the importance in narrowing your focus and becoming the best at your niche. You may notice your competition is virtually eliminated. The more you focus on your niche, the less other companies will offer what you offer. Once you determine your focus, your competition will be a fraction of what was there before, and you’ll realize only a handful of agencies are doing exactly what you are. 

More partners.

When you narrow your focus, your competitors can become partners. 

After eliminating thousands of agencies that were once your competition, you’ll find you now have many potential partners. You’ll also realize there are so many companies with complementary services to a similar client. This aspect of narrowing your focus could lead to the greatest amount of growth for your agency. Coming together with other partners who specialize in different skills in the same industry can help achieve the greatest outcome for clients. 

Improvement at a faster rate.

Practice one thing for hundreds of hours instead of hundreds of things for one hour. 

Once you eliminate the other things that were dividing your attention, you’ll soon realize your can spend so much more time learning and practicing on your area of focus. You will find you can keep up with the latest methods and trends within your niche that you never had time for before. A narrow focus helps you improve at a much faster rate. 

Higher value.

The most important benefit of narrowing your focus is the increased value you can bring to your client. When you provide a specific service for a specific industry, you are better and faster at solving problems. You’ll understand the needs of your client quicker with less of a learning curve on each new project. It may seem like you are eliminating potential clients once you find your niche, but remember how valuable you’re making your agency to the clients that are right for you. Ultimately, you’re growing your pipeline and your business. 

We are all living in a world of sameness that needs more specialists.

Think of all the revenue generating opportunities you will create when you excel in your uniqueness. A tight focus on your core expertise ensures your agency is easy to buy and difficult to dismiss. That’s what true differentiation is all about. 

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Setting your pace – Lead or Lag?

If new business is a race, would you say it’s better to spend your time looking forward or backward? Do you run with your head turned backward watching mile markers get further away? Or do you watch those mile markers in front of you get closer? I would highly suggest not looking backward whenever you are running, and the same goes for your new business planning.

As any agency approaches this process of planning, it’s important to note there are two different types of measurements that can change not only how you evaluate the race that is your new business program, but also predict your future success. Those two are Lag Measures and Lead Measures. Let’s break them down.

  1. Lag Measures – These are backward looking measurements of a result that has already happened.
  2. Lead Measures – These are forward-looking measurements that are predicting a result that will happen.

In 2018 your agency needs to be looking at Lead Measures and how they can help you forecast revenue, new clients, and staffing needs. Too often, I see agencies looking at only lag measures to determine how they are doing with new business. They look back at measures like number of leads created or revenue generated and then try to determine what will happen in the future based off of those results. Closing a new client in August has no bearing on September’s chances of closing a piece of new business, so why do we forecast this way?

The best example I have seen of an agency using lead measures was based on two factors. First, my agency measured the number of “engaged conversations” that they have each month. An engaged conversation was defined as one where they determine money, authority, and need from a prospect. They knew that if they had five of those calls a month, that would lead to enough pitches to hit their new business goals. The second measurement was based on lead score. Any great new business program will have a marketing automation built into it and that will include lead scoring capabilities. This lead scoring mechanism gave my agency the ability to judge just how effective their sales and nurture campaigns were and allowed them to prioritize prospects to go after. They set a score level of 25 points as the definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). The goal was to create 15 MQLs a month, because if they got 15 MQLS, then they could have at least 5 Engaged Conversations. See how each of these begin to predict one another?


As your agency begins to set your new business goals for the year, take a look at all of the different ways that you measure the success of your program. Take those measurements and put them either in a Lag or a Lead bucket. The majority of those will probably fall into that Lag bucket, and it’s fine to track those, but we want to start prioritizing the tracking of those Lead measurements. If you can find two dependable Lead measures, then you have not only simplified what you need to report, but you can also begin to set realistic goals for 2018 that will actually drive you to more new business wins!

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