A guide from Sponge New Business
If you’re a marketing company, it’s tough to decide how to conduct your new business effort. You’ve got a few options, none of which offer clear, distinguishable benefits.
Run it in-house and you’ve got the challenge of finding the right person to represent your company; outsource it and suddenly you have a plethora of new business companies to consider, all of whom promise very similar things.
Finding somebody to run new business in-house can be frustrating. The good guys can get bored working for one agency and if they don’t, the clients they bring in tend to like them on hand and they slowly become an Account Manager. New business falls down their priority list and you’re back to square one. Some agencies we speak to find people who will be as good on day 500 as they were on day 5. These people are to be kept – these rare gems are the best option for an agency to take. Like all holy grails though, they’re hard to find.
The alternative to in-house new business is to use an agency like Sponge New Business (www.spongenb.com). There are pitfalls in doing this too - avoiding them is fairly simple though.
Let’s assume for now, you’ve just hired us. At Sponge NB, we’ve created a five-point method for making it work:
1 – We’re gonna need your help
We’re good at our job, but right now nobody can sell your agency like you. We’re going to need to learn from you. Insist that your new business agency spends a day with you before your contract starts. You’ll want the person who will be calling for you, plus a senior member of staff there. Teach them, let them ask lots of questions; give them a taste of what your agency is really about.
During this day, we insist on meeting as many of the staff as possible. They define your company and we need to feel part of that team when we call for you. Our clients’ staff call us with ideas for companies to contact – it really helps us point in the right direction.
2 – Be ready
There are some things to prepare. They seem obvious, but many of our clients have struggled to have everything ready, so get your website finished if it isn’t already, make it easy to set up an email address for the person calling for you, build a short (no more than 10 pages) PDF credentials pack for lightweight information requests and write a short introduction email.
Your new business agency will help with much of this and will normally suggest changes, but be ready.
3 – Don’t panic about getting lots of meetings
Your time is expensive. Drinking someone else’s coffee is overrated, unless of course you’re talking about a real piece of business. The marketers at the companies we want to get you in front of don’t want to meet for “coffee and credentials” – but they get their arms twisted by telesales people.
If your new business agency seems really salesy, meet another one. Find one that will have the sort of conversations with prospects that you’d have yourself. Marketers don’t want to be sold to and they don’t relish cold calls – your new business person must call with this in mind. Each call has to have a reason, a real agenda and an outcome that works for you and your prospect.
4 – Talk, every day (or so)
If you had a new business person in-house, you’d speak to them every day, wouldn’t you? We talk to our clients regularly, plus they receive regular, readable reports and update emails. We can’t think of another way to do this, but a few of our clients have reported a lack of contact from their previous new business agency – don’t put up with it.
5 – Be prepared to busk, but not beg
Occasionally a meeting will come along with a company you’d chop limbs off to work for. They might have no live briefs, a decent incumbent agency and no more than a passing interest in you. If they’re your dream client, surely that’s worth a shot? Go in prepared – establish dialogue with them immediately after your new business agency arranges the meeting – and maximise your chances. If they’re really the pinnacle of your aspirations, they’ll see this. We call this busking.
Some new business agencies pay their staff a bonus for each meeting they book. This leads to wasteful meetings with people who are easy to book meetings with. There’s a known list of them (we tell our clients who they are) and they are the lifeblood of the “book-as-many-meetings-as-you-can” brigade. If your new business agency pays staff a bonus for each meetings, that’s why you’re meeting the wrong prospects. We call this begging.
Using a new business agency can be a rewarding, fruitful experience that benefits your company and fosters a great business relationship. Each month will be different and over time the arrangement will get closer to one you’d experience with an in-house new business manager. Get involved though – support their efforts, throw some resource behind them and you’ll get more results, more quickly.
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