Who needs to sell when you’re ‘top dog’?

October 30, 2019


Marketing agencies don’t need to sell.  Your work is so good, new business will fly in, right?  Well, not quite.  Whilst you’ll need a high quality of work to retain clients, attract others and win referrals, there are probably only 1/1000 agencies out there who can sit back and wait for the phone to ring.  For the rest of you mere mortals, it wouldn’t hurt to take some of your own medicine and apply some of the great sales and marketing advice you give your clients.



The Cobbler’s children have no shoes

A phrase constantly banded about the agency world, but few actually do anything about it or know where to start.  But what is it we’re suggesting agencies do?  Well it’s actually just the basics of any business – build a brand, create a clear positioning that resonates with a well-defined audience, create communications that help educate and attract those people and nurture a large number of prospects to eventually convert into new sales.  Easy right? With agencies sitting on such brilliant creative and strategic minds, they seem to save their best skills to only help other brands.  Whilst that is the primary focus of an agency, I can’t help but feel they are missing a trick by not applying that same brilliance to themselves.  What is an agency truly capable of? Surely it’s more than just helping others. The ones who are effective at sales tend to go on to develop products, create their own proprietary IP that they can resell and as a result build more revenue streams and diversify their core offering.  But this requires a commercial mindset and many agency owners don’t come from a sales background.



Filthy, dirty sales

We have developed stigmas about the word ‘sales’.  We think of intrusive cold calls, sleazy sales people, pushy people looking to do no more than fill their own boots with commissions. Whilst we have all dealt with these types, there is another way – consultative selling, based on listening and adding value.  There is nothing wrong with calling yourself a sales person.  Many try to hide behind job titles like Business Development, thinking this will give them a softer approach to prospects but at the end of the day, sales is sales, and most people are savvy enough to know when they’re being sold to; so you might be better to off giving them the respect they deserve.  The art of effective sales is a skill lacking (I would go as far to say it should be part of our education curriculum) and many fall at the first hurdle by prioritising their own agenda before that of the prospect.


Most of the agencies I work with get 90% of opportunities through referral and word of mouth but what if you want to grow and double the size of your business quicker than that?  What if you want to win larger sized deals?  What if the overheads have got so big that the number of leads and size of deals need to remain high? And what if the referrals dry up?  Unfortunately, most agency owners think about these things when it’s too late.  They hit panic stations and it can be a bit of a downwards spiral, or at best, a bumpy road from there.


So, what we’re suggesting is not sitting back anymore – you go on the counter attack; you’re proactive; go out and hunt, nurture and win.  This is the mindset of a sales person and it’s the difference between winning and bumbling along.  I believe the main reason people don’t like sales is because it’s putting yourself out there, opening yourself up to vulnerabilities and rejection.  But it is those same vulnerabilities and rejection that are going to enable you to learn about yourself, improve and grow.   By not selling, you’re actually not improving.



No CRM, no hope

There’s only one way to manage a sales process and that is with a CRM system in place.  After working with and trialling many, we are proud advocates of one called Pipedrive.  A system that is visually understandable, easily customisable and does exactly what you need it to do.  And what you need to do, is nurture many conversations with many different people, over a long period of time.  Ask yourself, if you had a database of everyone you had met in the last five years and captured contact details and the conversation that took place, would you have a problem with your sales pipeline?  There’s no hidden trick to sales.  There are those that are better at it but right now we’re talking about the basics and having a process in place.  With no CRM as the backbone to your sales process, you’re as good as a fine thoroughbred going into a race with no legs.  And an excel spreadsheet is just an aged horse who needs to be retired.


So, whether you’re a chief shmoozer or head-down introvert, the same principles apply; none of us can remember thousands of conversations!  A CRM will also help you decide on your most effective new business strategy as you will be able to capture data like deal sizes, time to close, sources of leads and any other bespoke information you need to understand where and why you’re winning and losing.



And that’s it. It’s time to start looking introspectively at your own agency and thinking about what you could achieve if you unlocked your full potential.  Most agencies are flying blind, hoping for the phone to ring and it’s bonkers! Its not your fault that you didn’t come from a sales background, but it is your responsibility to do something about it.



To get yourself on Pipedrive, you can use this link for an extended free trial and then it’s £12.50 a month.