I’ve been talking to agency owners all day about sales for the last six months. Before that, I spent the previous year and a half figuring out how to build a sales system for two different agencies of my own.
Surprise, surprise there are some themes that pop up in these conversations that many teams are struggling with, regardless of team size, customer type, deliverable, or even years in business. Figuring these fundamentals out is the difference between traction and perpetually spinning the wheels of business growth. Here are the four things I see agency owners and sales teams messing up when it comes to sales.
They don’t have an ICP (Ideal customer profile)
Often the excuse is a version of, “We can help anyone.” I say excuse because it’s actually lazy. Having and ICP allows you to build a repeatable system/productize your offering which makes delivery and marketing of the delivery way easier. In theory, we can help anyone but who are you best at helping right now? Focus on them and get better results in your sales and your deliverables. This ties into the next problem.
The offering is not well defined.
This presents as a marketing and a sales problem. On the marketing end, many of us assume that because we are marketers, we don’t have any problem positioning our product. But then we write vague and meaningless value props. Things like, “We’re a multidisciplinary team of expert practitioners and entrepreneurs with expertise in UX, SEO, Facebook ads, branding, Strategy Blah Blah Blah Gobbly Guck.”
There are more marketers than ever and we need to stand out to succeed. When our offering is not tied to a specific deliverable, the prospect’s eyes glaze over, and she bounces off your blog post, scrolls past your ad, or ignores your outreach. On top of this, companies – regardless of size – have tons of misconceptions about marketing and how it works. Being clear will help with project success and help set realistic expectations.
The pricing model is not scalable.
I talk to agencies all the time who don’t have enough margin built into their offering. Often they start from a point with a good margin, but then the prospect pushes back, or they find themselves in an RFP situation. What happens is the agency shaves down the price without cutting down the services too. Or in other cases, an agency hasn’t even looked at what offerings are getting them the best margins. I was once part of an agency where we didn’t know our margins. We built to half a million revenue in 6 months on pace to hit a million by the end of the year and had no profit even struggling to hit payroll; it just about killed us. Knowing how and why you price your services beyond what you think the next team is charging helps you know your value and what you need to do for yourself and for your clients.
No active system to generate new business.
I say active because waiting for your customers or friends to refer to business is not active; it’s 100% passive. Referrals are incredible and some of the highest converting leads. But instead of waiting what if you could build a system that actively generates referrals? That’s how I survive as an agency. We’ve created an outreach system that leverages the network of our team and actively engages people who are our ICP. We then give them an offering that clearly states what their business will get. Lastly, we’ve built a pricing model that allows us to provide incredible “commercial value” to agencies and SaaS companies in different positions. We have a margin that allows us to dedicate the resources we need to each project and scale our business at the same time.
So those are the four things I see agencies struggling with regularly. Sometimes it’s just one of the items, but often it’s all four. They play entirely into each other. The great thing is that you can solve the first three simultaneously. In so doing you can then build your outreach strategy and start growing a sales pipeline.
If an ICP, clear offering, and pricing model are not well defined no amount of outreach, blogging or social media posting will create a sustainable business for you.
Are you struggling with any of these items maybe even all four? I built Sled Dog Media to solve these exact problems. I dare say we’ve gotten pretty good at it. Schedule a free consult to figure out where to start and see how we can help you build a sustainable sales process end to end Today