For some of us, nothing beats the thrill of agency life. Some days you can end up feeling like you’re on top of Mount Everest. Other days, you crawl to your couch with spirits as low as the Marianas Trench. Most creative teams are handling multiple clients with a variety of issues on a daily basis. So it’s easy to become caught up in keeping existing customers happy, sometimes at the cost of new business for your agency.
While we’ll be the first to tell you a mature, software-reinforced business process can help your team see the big picture, sometimes it’s not a problem of perspective but rather that your lack of new business is rooted in your overall approach.
Below are some reasons we’ve found through conversations with clients (and, admittedly, some personal reflection) that can prevent agencies from attracting new clients.
Not Understanding Your Customer
This seems like an obvious place to start for some, but many companies become caught up on the idea of an ideal customer instead of their actual customer. You obviously have a vision for how clients will engage with your services. That, unfortunately, does not always align with how your client would like to work with you.
If you find yourself having lots of conversations with seemingly ideal candidates but rarely are converting these conversations into clients, it could be that you need to step back and reassess your target customer. Luckily, you already have some customers who can help you redefine whom you spend hard-earned resources pursuing.
Along with surveying current customers, you can also see if lost prospects might be willing to participate in lost-deal post-mortems. This is a great way to dive deeper into how you can improve for your next interaction with a prospect—did you present your company and your services accurately? Are you competitively priced? Is the person you targeted actually responsible for the pain you aim to assuage?
These are just a few ideas to get you started. But if you feel like your customer is rapidly becoming a hazy figure at the end of a dark alley stringing you along with obscure clues as to what he or she is after, then not only are you going to end up spinning wheels on bad opportunities, you also might’ve stumbled into a film noir.
Be Where Your Customers Are
This is a kindred idea to knowing your customer. As more of the sales process moves to a digital space, it helps to understand where your prospects are doing their research and communing with other like-minded individuals.
A lot of folks in the B2B space spend time on LinkedIn, but that’s quickly becoming another source of white noise for discerning due-diligence-minded individuals like our readers. While it’s important to maintain a toehold on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, it’s also crucial to recognize that conversations are moving beyond these social channels.
People like your customers are being creative and using new tools to create communities around specific problems, having conversations that no doubt would be of use to your agency’s sales teams.
This isn’t to say you should bombard these poor people with your sales pitches and marketing collateral, but instead use these candid conversations to inform the type of content you create and how you talk with prospects in the future.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of an overly eager rep’s attempt to introduce us to his or her account executive. Maybe your agency isn’t using an inside sales team, but if you think there’s something off about the amount of agency new business you’re generating, it could have something to do with your sales technique.
There is no shortage of online resources, so instead of reinventing the wheel for you, here are some of our favorites:
No Customer Advocates
While you work on getting your sales team up to snuff and figuring out whether or not you know whom you’re even looking to do business with, it couldn’t hurt to figure out if your existing customers are singing your praises. Aside from the financial benefits of keeping your customers happy, they can also be your best sales reps.
Friends or colleagues are probably some of the first resources you go to when you begin looking for a new solution to a problem. Sometimes it’s something simple, like which ladder to buy at The Home Depot—other times, it’s how to spend that extra $50,000 in your budget.
For your agency, it’s key that you leave customers happy enough to keep doing business with you, but also happy enough to refer you to their friends and peers.
No improvement can come without some level of self-awareness. Just like every guru on the market will tell people to take stock of their progress toward personal goals, it’s important for your agency to measure itself against a variety of success metrics.
If you haven’t already invested in a self-assessment, it’s never too late to start. Regardless of the results, having a baseline to help guide your investments in customer research, sales training, and other strategies is invaluable.
Agency life can be a terrific roller coaster. It’s important that you regularly check in with your teams and your organizational health so that you aren’t thrown for a loop.