I received overwhelming feedback from my previous post on new business in the time of the coronavirus. While I did not think that I was alone in receiving frantic pitches and ill-informed advice, the stories many of you shared with me were both shocking and sad. That’s why I chose to address the importance of knowing your agency’s value and not compromising on it.
There is a difference between giving something for the greater good (as I wrote about last week) and giving something away because you believe that’s the only way you have a chance of getting new business.
A lot of the offers and advice currently circulating reek of desperation. Unfortunately, desperation doesn’t attract clients. Success attracts clients, which is why the agencies who tend to close the most new business are the ones who are already doing well.
It can be challenging for any agency to project success during an economic crisis, but it’s still critically important.
Sales fundamentals are more important now than ever. This is a valuable lesson I learned many years ago in my media sales career: once you lower a rate, it is next to impossible to get it back to where it should be. (If you haven’t read Darren Woolley’s article on how accepting less came back to haunt agencies after the last recession, you should).
Treating your services as if they are of lesser value will hurt you now, and it will hurt you later. When you deeply discount your services and expertise to "win" a piece of business, it devalues your worth. It will affect your relationship for as long as you work with that client. A lot of this goes to the importance of equal business stature, which I talk about often.
Here’s how undervaluing works against you:
- It invites people to take advantage of your free or overly-discounted offers solely due to price, regardless of perceived fit or value
- You miss out on proactively qualifying the opportunities that are good for you
- You are more likely to end up with clients who don’t respect your expertise, increasing the odds that the relationship will be challenging, leading to poor ROI for your agency
- It’s unlikely a client will pay you more for what you’ve taught them they can have for less
In times of crisis, do not devalue your product, your services, or your expertise
What can you do instead? Stay calm and focused on solutions.
- What challenges are your clients and prospects facing now?
- What can you do to help solve them?
- How can you communicate and demonstrate that effectively?
- What does your agency do well that is uniquely relevant right now?
- Is that clearly communicated, and how can you let prospective clients know about it?
We have all worked hard through the years for the privilege to say no. No to the ridiculous demands, no to the scope creep, no to the bad clients. We must reevaluate that in the current context.
I am not suggesting that everything should now be a yes, but we might have to loosen or expand the filters, allowing us to say yes to things we said no to in different times. What we CAN'T do is say yes to money while forgoing profit. The margin may be lower than we like but we still must only say yes to those opportunities that allow us to make a profit.
Have you been tempted to undervalue your agency, in the current crisis or another time in the past? If so, how did it work out for you? If you have a story or lesson to share, I’d love to hear about it.
- New Business in the Time of Coronavirus
- What Is “Equal Stature” In A New Business Meeting, and Why Do You Need It?
- 7 Steps to Eliminate Unqualified Agency Sales Prospects
- How Client Management Affects Agency New Business
- How to Survive in a Project-Based Agency Landscape