As Labor Day approaches, there are many distractions which can lead you to take your eyes off the ball. And yet, the end of summer can be a make-it-or-break-it time for agency new business. You may have noticed that there are only a few short months before we head into the winter holiday season. So don’t let your three-day weekend morph into an extended period of “vacation brain.” Come back refreshed and fully charged. You may need to invest everything you can into meeting year-end goals. NOW is the time to adjust your behaviors and attitude, plan, and prepare to sprint to the year-end finish line. Read on for our tips to meet your agency sales goals.
Best bets to meet agency year-end goals in a pinch:
Assess & Reset
First things first. Spend some time reviewing your 2017 goals and determine whether you are still on track to meet them. Is what you are doing right now working? If not, there’s no time to waste. You still have time to adjust, but the window is closing.
- Assess your pipeline and YTD sales against your annual goals.
- Considering factors such as your average sales cycle and your chance of closing qualified opportunities, are you on track to meet your annual sales goals?
- Where are you falling short? What do you need to do to compensate?
- What do you need to do in the next 30-60 days to get back on track? Can you do a campaign to generate the leads you need to finish the year?
- What opportunities do you need to focus on in the next 30-60 days to get them to close before year-end?
- Are you targeting the right prospects in the right industries? Have your strengths, capabilities, and assets changed since you made an annual sales plan? Especially if you are hitting a wall in one area, consider reevaluating your messaging and target strategy.
- Which prospects, customers, and activities are eating up too much of your time? Will they generate enough revenue to make your time worthwhile? Can you dial back on these to become more productive?
Don’t have a written plan? How can you track your performance and stay on target without one? Get something on paper as soon as you can, even if it's a temporary placeholder.
A “Results by Any Means Necessary” Plan
If you are falling short of your year-end goals, create a short-term plan focusing on high-impact activities to get your agency back on track. Here are some things it might include:
For agency owners, this has two components. The first is holding yourself accountable to a certain amount of basic lead generation tasks (calls, emails, LinkedIn connections, referrals, etc.) that you need to do each day (or week) to hit your weekly targets. Commit to your goals by sharing them with some members of your team who are also involved in business development and put some dedicated time to do these tasks on the calendar and treat them like they are sacred.
The second part, particularly for agency owners and other senior leadership, is to make sure you are holding other team members accountable as well. You should know what tasks and targets your business development professionals are responsible for, and what results they are getting on a weekly basis. If they aren’t getting traction, why? What needs to be done to get better results? Simply by holding them accountable, you will get improved outcomes compared to a lax or hands-off approach.
Tighten up your sales qualification process. You can’t afford to waste time now chasing the wrong accounts. Disqualify any non-viable prospects as early as possible. Use these tips to eliminate unqualified prospects, so you have more time to spend building relationships with the people whose business you want and are able to close.
Get Back to Basics With Old Standbys
If you are falling short of your targets, go back to basics. The shortest path to close often comes via additional work from current clients or “warm” leads. Certainly, there is nothing more basic than the good old agency lead-gen standby: referrals. According to Hubspot, 90% of agencies rely on referrals to generate new business.
The key is to make referrals part of your repeatable system; be proactive rather than passive about getting referrals. If you don’t have a formal referral plan, create one now. Make referral requests part of your regular sales process. Create reusable templates. Integrate referral requests into quarterly account reviews, after contract renewals, or following a major success — whenever you can build off of a client’s satisfaction with your work. Carly Stec has suggested (on Hubspot’s Agency Post) even building referrals into your agency agreements.
The idea is to make your requests for referrals timely, easy, and pressure-free. And remember to be strategic and selective about the referral business you take on! Don’t waste valuable resources on opportunities that aren’t profitable for your agency.
Tighten Up Your Case Studies
What do your prospects most want to see when they are evaluating your agency? Proof! They want to see who have you worked with and what results you got for them. The great thing about investing in your case studies is that they have high value in influencing prospects towards the bottom of your sales funnel, so they may directly impact your revenue. Also, revamping your case studies is an ideal task for traditional sales “down times” such as the holiday season.
Here are some considerations as you review your library of case studies:
- Have you developed your case studies as fully as possible?
- Do you have old case studies available on your site and newer ones yet to be written?
- Are the case studies visually pleasing, clear, concise, compelling, and skimmable?
- Where are your case studies? Are they gated behind forms, or hidden in the far reaches of your website?
- If you are targeting a specific industry, have you considering rolling up your relevant case studies into a single case study demonstrating your capabilities in that industry?
- Have you considered indexing them in different ways; e.g., by industry, by service/product, by target demographic, or by challenge, among other possibilities?
- Results and insights lead to new business. If your case studies don’t have these two crucial elements they are incomplete.
Review Your Agency Positioning
I’ve said it before: differentiate or die. If your firm is among the many generic do-it-all firms, you are going to have a difficult time winning new customers. If your website says you are “a full-service agency,” I am talking to you. What do you think that means to someone who visits your site? For one thing, it suggests a weakness in branding. But if you claim your agency can do it all and aren’t good at branding, what else do you claim to do but aren’t actually good at?
You have to be able to tell visitors, accurately, why they should pick your agency vs. all the others. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up to compete on price. 43% of agencies don’t have a strong positioning statement, according to Hubspot’s 2016 Pricing and Financials Report. Is it time to kick-start your positioning with some fresh, objective, outside perspectives? Conduct an agency audit to clarify what really sets you apart.
Q4 Marketing Campaign
Treat your agency as a client and do a targeted advertising, PPC, direct mail, or email campaign to generate some additional opportunities before the end of the year. If you need to fill a revenue gap, consider making the time for an end-of-year push. If you can promote a new case study, white paper, or other thought leadership offer, all the better. Remember, you don’t need a 20-page work of art to start a conversation, and the connection should be your primary goal.
Summary: It’s Not Too Late to Turn Things Around
Don’t accept excuses about why you can’t reach your agency's year-end goals. Instead, adjust your strategy and tactics and stay laser-focused on doing the activities you need to reach them. If you start sprinting now, you have every chance to catch up with your targets for the year-end. That said, many of the leads you are chasing at this point may not close until 2018. Late is better than never, but it’s always best to start early when it comes to closing new business. Do your future self a favor and start building your opportunities for 2018 today!
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Read more about agency new business goals:
- What Your Agency Needs to Know About Industry Trends in 2017
- Look Beyond a Pitching Frenzy for New Business in 2017
- Plan Ahead, It’s Open Enrollment Period for New Business
- Catch Up With Your 2016 Agency Sales Goals Now