One Forgotten Reason Competitors Hurt Your Chances For More Agency New Business

One of the battles for us as an outsourced business development firm is the onslaught of ineffective/uninformed sales emails marketing services firms get on a daily basis from telemarketers and bots, professing to be effective agency new business generators.

I’m not talking about our legitimate competition, I’m talking about the random lead gen firms typically promising the world.

For example, a few first lines from sales emails I’ve received over the past 6 weeks:

-I can’t give up until I hear from you. Either way we slice it, we should grab 20 minutes:

-Hey Lee, I just wanted you to know that my favorite animal is the orangutan. I think it’s such a cool looking creature. Anyways-

-Noticed you were an alum of University of Kentucky with such a great mascot name. Fighting cats make great sports team, like tigers and cougars. Out here on the west coast things can be different. For example, the mascot of U.C. Santa Cruz is the Banana Slug — (true story :) Not much of a fighting contest with that creature, right?

-I just saw you here online and was emailing you to see if you could handle 50 appointments with clients of your niche this month plus a guarantee that we will close the first client for you?

First mistake with all these: they should check their database.

We’re an outsourced business development firm ourselves, a quick site or LinkedIn check would show that.

But these companies are all about spray and pray primarily.

These ineffective (or terrible) emails make my job harder to break through to agencies about our services.

Agencies get emails like this every day, often several times a day, and I know this because they tell me they’re bombarded by lead gen firms at a manic pace.

And so my company, RSW, is constantly in danger of getting lumped in with these firms, or, just as egregious, outright ignored, because there’s so much junk entering their inbox every day.

Why should you care?

Because the same thing is happening to your agency right now.

There are a lot of agencies out there doing a mediocre job of new business, sending poorly written and/or forgettable emails to that prospect you’re pursuing.

And like my examples above, it makes your job, driving agency new business, harder, because that very solid and effective email you just sent gets lumped in with 2 or 3 crappy emails your competition sent over.

So-I leave you with thoughts on what to do to fight this, and ensure a more effective new business outreach:

  • Differentiate yourself with a strong point of difference and content that speaks to your prospect’s challenges
  • Take the time to craft concise, direct and specific emails, especially as a prospect shows interest
  • Don’t just use email-use every channel in concert with each other: email, phone, social (where it makes sense) and yes, snail mail.

And you could actually flip the script on this, and look at all this junk as a positive.

Let competitors get ignored, and keep reaching out with informed, value-driven reach-outs.

It will take 6 to 8 touches, but it will ultimately pay off.

If There’s No Work In Hand, Should We Even Take This Prospect Meeting?

30-50% of the prospect meetings we get our agency clients turn into a proposal opportunity.

I’m kicking things off with this stat, because recently I’ve had conversations with agency prospects who’ve asked about the other 50%.

It’s not a question that comes up in every prospect conversation I have, but if it doesn’t, then I like to bring it up.

That other 50% typically constitute those meetings with a longer tail.

I’m not going to tell you that every single meeting we get for a client is a home run, but part of the reason our business development programs are set up the way they are is so our new business directors can help nurture that other 50%, where it makes sense to do so.

Not every meeting will be a work-in-hand opportunity, whether it’s set by us, or if an agency is handling new business internally.

Because you simply can’t manufacture opportunities-timing truly is everything.

But, there have been several meetings we’ve gotten for clients, where opportunities became evident that weren’t when the meeting was originally set.

In those cases, we prepared our client with the prospect’s situation, the prospect was on the list we built and which was approved by our client (one of the first steps), and there was a high level of interest in what our client could bring to the table.

But, there was no immediate work in hand.  That can happen and we communicate as much information as we can to our client in that regard.

Speaking generally about agencies, these types of meetings are often where they drop the ball.

Their first thought is, “well, if there’s no work in hand, should we even take this prospect meeting?”

Well, to be fair, sometimes the answer is no.

And depending on a lot of factors, you’re probably not jumping on a flight across the country at that point.

But otherwise, you must keep an open mind in these situations.

Going back to those clients I mentioned, they went into those meetings with an open mind, performed initial research, and prepared key questions, specific to the industry and work they had done.

Half an hour into these conversations, what started with no immediate work turned into several challenges that weren’t initially mentioned and that the prospect really hadn’t fully fleshed out or realized until our client tapped into the right line of questioning.

It’s not an easy thing, but there are those agency principals or new business directors, who have an innate talent for extracting insights from prospects.

They can sit down with that prospect and have the ability to ask really good questions about the prospect’s business, getting them laser-focused on the challenges they’re facing.

To be frank, a lot of you reading don’t have that talent, but you can still get the same result.

Three quick tips on how:

1) Prior to the meeting, study up your prospect and her/his company

Far too often, the only prep is to glance at the prospect’s website briefly.

You are busy, without a doubt, but as I like to say,

Google is your friend.

It’s just too easy to find out a fair amount of information in a short period of time.

2) Formulate 7-10 industry/client-focused questions before the prospect meeting.

Ideally you have some of these questions based on what you uncovered about the prospect and her/his company, but you won’t always be able to find something pertinent.

So base your questions on the challenges you help your current clients solve.

It’s a safe bet they’re going through the same things, and even if they aren’t, they’ll appreciate your overall expertise in their vertical.

3) Keep an open mind.

If you go in with a negative or circumspect mental attitude, you’ve already gone a long way toward assuring yourself a poor meeting.

Absolutely there are those meetings that never should have happened, and if that continues with great frequency, the overall process needs to be examined, but on average, if all the other boxes towards a right fit are checked and the prospect wants to meet with you, odds are good there’s a need there.

When agencies are considering our services, one of the first questions I typically ask is how they’ve handled new business in the past and are currently handling it.

One response I often get when an agency is considering a change, in regards to past performance: “we had someone internally but the prospect meetings didn’t go anywhere.”

If this describes your current new business program, you need to think about what that really means, because there are several, brief stages of analysis you should subject your current meetings to.

Obviously if you feel the meetings from your new business program, whoever is handling it-you, a new business director, a team, etc, “aren’t going anywhere”, a change needs to be made.

But that change can take a few different paths, and could be a simple tweak, or a sizeable change.

The first place to start, perhaps unsurprisingly, is asking,

Why you think prospect meetings are going nowhere