A different way to sell to your clients

Sales. What a dirty word.  No one likes to be thought of as a salesman, yet “selling”: the persuading-the-client-to-hire-us-rather-than-our-competitor (who is probably equally talented) is what we all have to do, in the constant battle between our wits and the client’s money, in order to thrive and grow. Only if you try to adopt the honed tactics of, say, car salesmen, you will fail, because what they are selling and consequently how they have to sell it, is sufficiently different from our services to mean that an entirely different approach is needed. Fortunately, if you sell your services properly, it doesn’t feel like “selling” at all – to you or to your client. Where there are similarities between us and our automotive friends however, is that clients are becoming increasingly demanding, technology is changing the shape of the market constantly, and competition is hotting up. So if you want to be one of life’s winners in this commercial world, you had better master the right sales approach, quickly. The starting point is to really, truly understand what makes clients buy and what turns them away. Whilst theoretically this is something agencies understand better than almost anyone else, in practice too…
The truth is, most of us are pretty poor at asking questions. We can all do it, of course; we can all ask ‘What’s your name?’ without thinking too much. But once we move up the questioning hierarchy we need to do just that – think. Asking a good question isn’t something we just do and by ‘good’ I mean a question that delivers useful answers. Formulating questions of this kind is a skill that allows us to extract extra value, and therefore learning, during our conversations with clients, teams, mentors, groups – in fact just about everybody. For those of us in new business, honing our questioning skills means that we can probe deeper and understand better our prospects’ nuanced thinking and needs. So, how do we ask better questions? The 5 Ws A friend of mine, a journalist at Bloomberg TV, regularly conducts interviews with the global titans of the financial world. When I asked him what he thought made these encounters so successful, even with strait-laced business leaders whom I assumed were pretty tough to crack, he spoke about the importance of doing his prep, of adopting an easy going conversational style (making interviewees feel at ease)…

Writing a New Business Plan Made Easy

We all know that New Business and Marketing is a tough job. The role has expanded exponentially over the past few years, competition is fierce, clients and procurement teams have become more demanding. And the result is ever-increasing pressure on resource and time. So where do you start and how do you deploy your time, resource and energy? How do you position your agency to win more business, more often?The answer is to gain clarity around your goals and apply a strategic framework that allows you to create the right kind of valuable pipeline opportunities. Needless to say, it’s a road well travelled by the most successful new business winning agencies. So here’s the outline approach: Start with the Agency Business PlanWork together with senior management on the detail of the agency business plan. Their growth targets and strategy (including new services, products, skills and expertise) will define yours. Make sure to agree your new business and marketing budget for the year.Work alongside agency managementIt’s important that you update senior management throughout the year (they’ll be coming to you, so don’t worry, it’ll happen). Signal any areas that will require investment (both financial and importantly, their time). Audit your new…

How To Grow Your Existing Clients

Your agency is at least 5 times more likely to win new business from your existing clients than new clients.  And yet, most agencies fail to approach this significant area of potential growth with the same rigour and vigour as a new client opportunity. Moreover, it’s not a choice – given the first 6-12 months of any new client revenue will be offset against the cost of winning it, you will only achieve profitable growth if you can successfully grow your new business wins into established, long-term, growing clients. So given its importance, here are some tips for New Business people who want to engage their Client Leaders /Account Directors in growing their Agency’s existing clients: 1. Help them recognise the importance of New Business to the Agency. Tell them if they have any aspirations to lead an agency one day, they will need to be able to grow one! It is definitely in their interest to develop these skills. 2. You need to give your client teams insights into the New Business market place so they understand what the Agency is up against 3. It’s important to share your New Business plan with the agency and to make clear…

HOW TO SUCCEED AT THE ‘MOST DANGEROUS JOB AT AN AGENCY’

An article published in Adweek was headlined ‘What’s the Most Dangerous Job at an Agency?’ This question of course piqued my interest. So, fingers on buzzers. Let’s have your answer. The most dangerous job at an agency is … New Business Director. So it’s simultaneously the most dangerous job whilst arguably one of the most valuable. After all, the successful growth of the agency is largely dependent on the ability of the New Business Director to win new business. Why is it dangerous? Partly attributable to the nature of the role which is nothing if not accountable. Sometimes due to lack of clarity around the scope of the work and responsibilities.  For some it seems that the bar is set unrealistically high by senior management and failing to live up to expectations means that ‘life expectancy’ can be short. Managing multiple demands was always part of the job spec – from generating, qualifying and nurturing leads to managing the pitch process; owning RFI/RFPs to creating agency collateral; capitalizing on and creating PR opportunities to managing prospect meetings– as the universe expands, so does the remit of new business – and there’s more. Rapid advances in technology have witnessed a re-engineering…

Growing Pains – Getting your agency through the adolescent years

Article on Marketing Communication News – Published on January 4th, 2018  The early years for any agency are tough. Everyone knows that. However, what is less recognised is that the really hard times often come when an agency has broken through to the medium-sized point. JFDI’s 2017 New Business Barometer survey of nearly 100 agencies highlighted this issue: once you reach the 50 to 150 people stage, life does not suddenly become much easier. In reality these “adolescent” years are often even tougher than the childhood days. Get through it – keep on growing – and you can come out the other side as a large agency. Here, you benefit from efficiencies of scale, an established reputation, bigger marketing budgets, and life does often become easier. So, the question is how to make it through that tough phase of between 50 to 150 people. What should those agencies be doing to make it more likely they emerge successfully to the other side, and what should the smaller agencies be preparing to do so that their adolescent years are as trouble-free as possible? The Problems of Youth The challenges small agencies face are well known, but no less real for that. For…