According to HubSpot’s Agency Pricing and Financials Report, only one in three agencies has a dedicated business development professional on staff. We assume someone must be trying to generate new business for that other 66 percent, and we have some horror stories that tell us agency new business is often an “add on” task for agency employees who have a little extra bandwidth.
So if you’ve been tasked with prospecting or generating sales leads, but don’t have a resume full of new business development, you’re not alone. Here’s your handy guide to reaching strategic decision makers, and generating and converting leads.
Try Social Selling
Using social media for generating leads is quite different from using it to build site traffic. Here’s the one thing you need to do if you want to prospect on social media: Ask questions.
Making sales requires the conversation to start with being about the customer, not the company. Ask leading, relevant questions from your social audience. It’s the most simple and direct market research you can participate in—and you can use the answers to identify indicators of problems you’re best positioned to solve for your customers. But more than that, you’ll also get great insights into what’s important for your customers, and the kinds of interactions they have with your competitors.
The LinkedIn State of Sales in 2016 report points to 90 percent of top performing sales people using social selling tools compared to 71 percent of sales people overall. Sure, it might be chicken and egg about whether one causes the other, but if you haven’t started a social selling the good folks over at ConverseDigital published a quickstart guide to get you into social selling fast.
Build Your Email Lists
In digital marketing and business development, an email address is currency. The more authentic email addresses you have, the more potential customers you can reach, and the more leads you can potentially close as sales. On your website and on your social media business page, offer an incentive in exchange for an email address. Gated content is a marketing standard practice. If you have something valuable to offer your audience, you’ll find that they’re willing to pay for your content with their email address. Ebooks, webinars, Studies show that most sales occur from email marketing. Once you have their email address, you can market to those prospects and get them moving through your funnel.
Understand The Triggers
There are a few things that make brands more likely to be in the market for a new agency. If you knew which events cause prospects to go from cool to red hot, you could be far more targeted (read: efficient and successful) in your business development efforts. WinmoEdge delivers a crazy amount of this intelligence to your mailbox every day, but if you feel like doing the work yourself, here are some google alerts you might set up:
- New chief marketing officer hires
- Startups going to IPO
- Mergers and acquisitions
- New product launch
- Agencies going under review
Getting these alerts, which tell you that something is happening with a brand, can help you figure out whether it’s the right time to contact them to talk about the problems you can help them solve.
Make Sure You’re Communicating with the Decision Maker
In one of his final stand-up performances before his death in 1965, iconic comedian Lenny Bruce talked about his arrests and trials. During one of his trials a police officer was required to “reproduce” Bruce’s controversial routine for the court, because there was no recording of it, and the officer’s version was, according to Bruce, inaccurate and unfunny. And he was found guilty.
This isn’t so far away from what happens when the user of a product sits through a demo and then has to convince a decision maker of the product’s value. Details are missed or misrepresented because they were misremembered.
Once you have a prospect lined up, try to deal directly with the person who’ll make the final decision. Even if the marketing team is the direct beneficiary of your product or service, it might be someone in accounting who has the final say, but you want to make sure the pitch they’re hearing is as good as it can be, and tailored to the audience.
To find out who is the decision maker, simply ask, “Are you the person who will be making the final decision about your purchase?” And while you might not be able to speak with that person, you can certainly send a recording of the demo for them, or provide collateral that is more return on investment rather than features-focused.
You could use tools to find decision makers to target. In the 2017 Agency New Business Tools Report by Mirren/RSW, Winmo was the most preferred, most accurate and most reliable tool for finding decision maker contact information, and you can get a free trial of Winmo here.
Use Your Personal Network
First, a warning: Spending time with your bros, watching the game and talking shop almost doesn’t feel like sales. And that’s a problem, because it's true.Your friends want you to succeed, but are the worst culprits when it comes to sending you down rabbit holes and wasting your time. The good intentions of friends won’t help you hit your sales goals, because referrals can be the least reliable leads you get. Talking to your friends is comfortable and easy, and because of that many salespeople keep going back to that source, even though they've never been able to close leads from it.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re networking when you’re actually notworking.
Your personal network can be a goldmine, though, if you mine it right. Most houses are sold to a friend of a friend of the seller. And when it comes to employment, it often does matter who you know. Going beyond online social selling, it’s important to get yourself out to events, conferences and meetups. There are probably a dozen meetup groups in your city for people who experience the problem your company solves. Is your agency a design shop? Then look for meetups for website builders and direct response agencies. At the very least you’ll be building your personal network with people you’ve actually met.
It might take some time, but when you start speaking up, connecting and being involved in the community your product serves, you’ll be in the front of potential customers’ minds.
Around 85 percent of buyers contact the seller when they’re ready. Don’t you want your number to be the one they call?