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Outbound Prospecting

How to Build and Maintain a New Business Pipeline

How to Build and Maintain a New Business Pipeline

Warning: no magic formulas revealed here. The answer relies on common sense steps toward creating an infrastructure, filling it with data, and then using it with purpose and consistency. Yet, it’s not uncommon to see an agency miss or neglect a step. Which one do you tend to neglect?

True Tales and Lessons Learned from a Lead Generator

True Tales and Lessons Learned from a Lead Generator

Generating leads is central to any business development strategy.  And you hate it. You find excuses to avoid outbound prospecting whenever possible.

For some agencies, outsourcing lead generation is a great idea. Though, as I wrote in my last post, it only works if you hold up your end of the bargain. My friend Mark Duval agrees. He runs Duval Partnership, a firm that offers outsourced prospecting and lead generation to agencies. Over a recent conversation he generously shared his thoughts on what makes an agency prospecting campaign successful as well as the skewed expectations he routinely comes up against. 

Read our interview here.

Is Your Agency Ready to Outsource Lead Generation?

Is Your Agency Ready to Outsource Lead Generation?

Recently, a client of mine asked me to help him evaluate a lead generation firm he was thinking about hiring. The lead gen firm had sent him an extensive questionnaire so it could gather enough information to create a set of persuasive sales messages. It included questions you’d expect: How do you describe your ideal client? What makes your agency different from competitors? Why do you do what you do?
 
My client asked me for my advice. Would I assess this firm and tell him what I thought of the questionnaire?
 
My feedback was that there was nothing wrong with the questionnaire. The question I had for him: Was he was happy with his answers? And, should the lead generator bring him quality leads, did he believe he was prepared to close the business?
 
I gave my client some advice on how to make sure his investment would pay off. If you’re considering outsourcing lead generation, then it might be good advice for you too. Read more

Your Ad Agency’s Top New Business Priorities in Q4

Your Ad Agency’s Top New Business Priorities in Q4

When I was on staff leading new business teams at ad agencies, I spent many an August working late nights and weekends in overly air-conditioned offices instead of enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer.

I attributed this spike in new business activity to summer vacations – not mine but the client’s. I imagined the client realizing somewhere in July that the agency search she’d planned to do that year hadn’t started yet. But if she could rally and send that RFP before her vacation started, the agencies that received it would have a couple of weeks to respond while she enjoyed the beaches of Nantucket.

Maybe you spent your summer pitching a lot of business and not resting too much – and I hope that most of those pitches ended successful—but as we move into Q4, you should be focused on two priorities. Read more.

What's the Secret to Winning More New Business? Know Thyself.

What's the Secret to Winning More New Business? Know Thyself.

It’s January, a time to stride forth into the new year and activate the plans you've made to grow your ad agency – dust off that prospecting list, revive the agency’s blog, hire a biz dev whiz to steer the efforts.

How’s that going so far?

We're as quick to break resolutions as we are to make them. Psychologists call this “false hope syndrome,” which means our resolutions are unrealistic and out of alignment with our internal view of ourselves.

What's the secret to counteracting this natural tendency? 

For a moment, put aside your ambitious plans for 2017 and take a critical look at your team (including yourself) and what it's best equipped to do. See if your agency matches one of these five types. It could unlock the secret to winning more new business this year.

How to Re-Engage Cold Prospects and Win More Business for Your Ad Agency

How to Re-Engage Cold Prospects and Win More Business for Your Ad Agency

I’m often surprised by how many ad agency executives ignore their own network of contacts. Somehow, between servicing current clients and chasing after new prospects, these valuable contacts get taken for granted.

Your network is one of the best sources of new business you have, but it needs care and feeding. One way to do this is through a re-engagement campaign.

“But that’s an email marketing tactic,” you might be saying to yourself. And you’d right. But, as I explain in my recent guest post on HubSpot’s marketing blog, you can adapt it to generate new business leads quickly and efficiently. After all, it’s easier converting someone who knows and likes you into a prospect than it is building a whole new relationship.

A Hack for Always Having a Compelling Sales Message

A Hack for Always Having a Compelling Sales Message

It can easily take more than a dozen points of contact before a prospect says “yes.” That means you need a steady supply of content. If you’re like many of the ad agencies I work with, that can be a daunting thought at first. But you’re probably sitting on more prospecting-ready information than you realize and I have a tool to help you draw it out.

Are You Really Ready to Start Prospecting for New Clients?

Are You Really Ready to Start Prospecting for New Clients?

I talk a lot about why you need to be strategically ready to embark on a prospecting campaign. Your sales efforts aren't going to be successful if you can't communicate to your best prospects why your services are more valuablethan other agency.

But in my latest blog post I shift gears a bit to talk about some practical tools that are important to have in place if you are to support a strong prospecting program. They're tools that are easy to start to use right away and that I've come to consider indispensable.

Still managing your contacts largely through Post-It notes? Relying too much on a white board (the one that got erased by mistake last week) to track your marketing activities?

How to Hook a Big Client This Year

How to Hook a Big Client This Year

The beginning of a new year is a great time to set positive intentions, such as reeling in a big, game-changing client. It’s a daunting challenge for any agency, but it is particularly challenging if you’re a small- to mid-sized shop. You have to work that much harder to differentiate yourself and get the attention of the "big guys". 
 
The good news is that hooking a big client doesn't require that you make massive operational changes or even hire an expensive "rainmaker". It relies more on having the right mindset. Check out my guest column in today's Agency Post (also on my blog) to see if there are things that you can do today to best position yourself to win big this year.
 

The Forgotten Prospect

Weeks, maybe months, of team effort went into a pitch that you didn’t win and now you’re exhausted and demoralized. You take a deep breath, write confidence-boosting email to the team to let them know how much you appreciate the awesome job they did, and hope that the next pitch turns out better.

Sound familiar? What most agencies forget is that they’ve just invested a significant amount of time building a relationship and that investment shouldn’t go to waste.

Start by thinking about the process you just went through. From the very beginning, your agency was included in this review because you displayed some form of qualification for the work that needed to be done. Assuming that you did your best (or unless you screwed up so badly by, I dunno, sending a disparaging email to the client by mistake), the likelihood is that you made a positive impression – maybe not the right impression to get the business, but positive nonetheless.

Take advantage of this!

Most agencies are smart enough to follow up and get feedback on their performance, but often the relationship ends there. Instead, do this:

  1. Add all client names and contact info to your prospect database. So basic and elemental but so often overlooked (and if you don’t have a prospect database, for goodness sake, start one).
  2. Schedule reminders for a future follow-up in sixth to twelve months, or whatever duration feels right to you.
  3. When that reminder comes due, do your homework – find out how the company is doing, how the agency is performing, or even if your contact has moved on to another company – and put together a thoughtful email that shows you’re still thinking about how you would tackle their marketing challenges.
  4. Repeat for as long as it takes to get the client’s attention again (and, by the way, you may still be getting their attention even if you’re not getting a response).

Here’s a true story – an agency I know pitched an emerging healthcare brand and lost. They wrote it off as a good experience and moved on to the next one. But even though he didn’t hire them, the CMO had been really impressed with this agency’s work. A year later, when he moved to another role at a consumer products company, he called them up and hired them. What a happy ending! The moral of the story: these kinds of lucky situations might actually occur with greater frequency with a little proactive outreach and patient nurturing.