During an Agency Sales Transformation workshop in 2019 (when I was at Waypoint Partners), led by Partner Lisa Mandell, we asked a dozen agency leaders what sales challenges were keeping them awake at night. We dealt with each in turn and started to explore ways of addressing them. All shared their ideas and thinking openly and everyone left with some actionable insights.
There was a wide range of replies but a few themes emerged:
- The number one “keeps me awake” factor was reducing the dependence on referrals and inbound. Everyone recognised that this isn’t scalable and leave you reliant on what comes within your reach.
- Highly associated to that was the desire to control their own destiny by building a lead gen machine and engage with businesses that ‘don’t already know us’. Some have struggled to create an effective outbound programme, or to implement it consistently. There was a fair bit of discussion around whether to have this in-house (and with dedicated resource) or to outsource. The broad conclusion was that outsourced lead gen rarely delivers.
- Some leaders identified targeting and qualification as a worry. We talked about the relationship between marketing & sales and the need to have a really clear and focussed plan. Lisa provided some tips on how to identify metrics – the compelling evidence that would help make the case for considering us over anyone else. This was seen as one of the keys for unlocking bigger budgets from larger brands.
- There was a general concern about the efficiency, replicability and scalability of agency sales programmes. Some felt that they were doing OK, but struggled to turn up the tap or just didn’t have faith in their current processes to deliver more when put under pressure. We reassured everyone that sales is a process not an art form – and I reminded the leaders that one of the critical challenges is actually to execute the process, every day, each week, without fail.
- Lastly, our leaders fretted about what and how to measure the effectiveness of a sales programme. Lisa shared some helpful templates and illustrated the unarguable relationship between the number (and quality) of leads and the resultant sales revenue.