Do you have a sales problem, or a product problem?
Lets talk about sales. Or new business, if you're trying to sound fancy.
I highly doubt there are many agency owners out there that are truly happy with the size of their pipeline. Sure, there may be periods where you have to slow down new client onboardings to cope with capacity, but without new business there is no business.
The challenge I see with many agencies that I speak to now is that the founding team are incredible at the service that their agency provides. They usually have a strong network of former colleagues and clients that become the early clients for the agency. But eventually that little black book dries up and they have to bring in 'sales people'.
I'd take a guess that if you plucked out 50 sales people from marketing agencies, every one of them would have a slightly different remit.
Sales people aren't cheap, and it's natural for a founder to want to see a quick ROI. So often the brief that the sales person is given is to go hunting for leads on Linkedin. I think we all know that this happens, because we all get those inMails every week. Some are inventive at least and some are as simple as 'do you need a new website'.
Purely due to volume, this strategy will probably bring in a few new opportunities in the short term. But there is absolutely no long term benefit. Eventually either you'll get rid of that sales person, or they will leave for another job. And then you're back to square one with the next person.
Molzi had many sales people before we learned a better way.
Do you have a sales or a product problem?
No one likes being sold to. In fact, as soon as someone senses they are being sold to, the likelihood of them buying decreases. So we shifted our strategy to problem solving rather than selling.
At this stage we had hired a few senior people from Amazon and when they joined they had catch up calls with some of their network. These calls couldn't be further from a sales pitch. Just a catch up, asking what issues they have and suggesting ideas to fix them. We noticed that these people that weren't selling were bringing in a lot more new business than the people that were.
So we paused any outbound. We focussed on hiring problem solvers rather than sales people.
Our product offering was full-service Amazon marketing support. Ads, SEO, graphic design, data analytics. But we were one of many agencies offering these services, and most brands were getting pitched at by all of them. But we started seeing common themes in the problems that potential clients were having, so we created specific service offerings to service them. Amazon was already niche. And CPG brands were a niche within that niche. And we created service offerings that worked on a niche within that niche niche.
A niche niche niche was born.
So, armed with these very specific problems that we knew everybody had, we restarted our outbound campaign, but only selling this niche niche niche. Even though it wasn't really what we wanted to do for the client, or where we made our money. But we almost never got a no. Because we were solving a problem we knew these people had.
We quickly opened up huge new clients. Some of them even paid us with their credit card in order to bypass the procurement process initially. And then our biggest growth strategy became finding more of these niche niche niche products that we could use to expand the business with these large clients.
After a year or two, we started to upsell our standard product offerings. Usually without need for a long RFP process.
We solved our sales problem by solving other peoples Amazon problems.