It’s the issue that weighs heavily on the mind of everyone working in new business – how to ensure that you’re able to deliver a continuous flow of new business opportunities.
The health of your new business pipeline is paramount, and knowing how to create, fill and manage a pipeline is arguably the New Business Director’s most valuable skill.
Which is why we need to talk about prospecting.
Given the pressure on delivering new business revenue targets, agencies often direct much of their effort on short-term tactical opportunities, for instance taking advantage of those key events that trigger account reviews: client moves and new marketing appointments, changing brand/market dynamics, M&As, statutory reviews and so on. In order to succeed, agencies need to work hard to ensure that they’re well positioned and ready to compete.
The problem is, too much focus on today could leave your agency exposed in the future. The pipeline may run dry. You need a new business insurance policy that safeguards your pipeline longer term.
To achieve this, it’s important to take a broader view, and plan your prospecting strategies to deliver for the short, medium and long-term, mindful of the 70/20/10 rule (respectively) designed to frame your effort, resources and time.
Short-term strategies include engaging with existing contacts, including lapsed clients and those you’ve worked with in the past, who have now moved on. Linked In provides the perfect access point, and as well as senior agency management allows everyone in the agency to identify prospect opportunities from their networks. The successful pursuit of new business needs to rely on the many, not the few.
[Time frame: 3 to 6 months]
Medium-term strategies typically include working and building relationships with intermediaries, and asking for client referrals. Many agencies use referrals as a key driver for new business; others find it more difficult, not least because they don’t know how to ask clients for a referral, and it can make them feel uneasy.
An interesting statistic from Dale Carnegie: 91% of customers say they would give a referral, but only 11% of salespeople ask for them. There’s an untapped source of new business opportunities here, and clearly an advantage in creating an in-agency, client referral culture.
[Time frame: 6 to 18 months}
Long-term strategies include agency marketing, which has become an increasingly important prospecting tool. This means leveraging your agency brand to create awareness and attract your ideal prospects, combined with an ongoing programme of marketing initiatives as you nurture your prospects through to leads – and beyond.
The engine that drives the in-bound marketing activity is the creation of content – content that underpins your agency’s expertise, otherwise known as thought-leadership. Sharing across multiple platforms and repurposing your output drives visibility, whilst enabling you to manage your time and workload more effectively.
Together with selective out-bound activity (events, speaker platforms etc.) a marketing-led prospecting strategy is certainly a powerful tool in your new business armoury.
[Time frame: 18 months plus]
Prospecting and Marketing Skills Day: 16th March
If you’d like to learn more, and leave equipped with strategies, tools and insights on how to fill and manage your pipeline, join our Prospecting and Marketing Skills Day on 16th March.
Our guest speaker is Adam Gordon, MD of Social Media Search. Adam will be sharing his expertise on how to use Linked In as a strategic prospecting and marketing tool.