A navigation aid: more orders for agencies
Successful agencies are masters at applying for new orders and landing not only small deals, but longer-term cooperations. Even for the big players in the industry, it is important to take a step back from time to time and make new thoughts and ideas about the application process. Because the competition never sleeps and only those who develop further stay ahead.
Are you an account manager, consultant or project manager of an agency? Or freelancer, creative lone fighter? Or rather the founder type of an up-and-coming agency? In the following, you will learn with some examples of how to land new deals and build your business step by step. It’s about sustainable self-marketing, which should be worth a few minutes of your precious time.
Acquisition, project work and customer loyalty are one process
The success of any agency starts with the mindset of the employees. As an agency owner, you would do well to train your colleagues full-stack to a holistic mindset. Too many buzzwords? I think so, too, but it’s just that even the intern has to understand that a dissatisfied project customer will turn his back on the agency. Satisfied project customers, on the other hand, are warm leads. They deliver follow-up projects and conclude long-term service and consulting contracts.
New customer acquisition: the first contact
New customers do not grow on a tree. Nevertheless, among them there are the Low Hanging Fruits, which must be picked first. Of course, you can sit down and call other companies. Apart from the legal concerns of this cold phone acquisition, this is gruelling for everyone, because you can only guess the user intent and in most cases will simply present the wrong offer.
Creative and social more tasks
That’s why you should be creative and social . Pick up the phone, but not to annoy your target audience, but to ally yourself with existing customers and partners. Yes, exactly, customers: they are your best reference. For example, during the usual communication, ask them about partner companies along their value chain that are causing headaches and see if your performance can help there. You can only win: you relieve the existing customer of a problem, while a new customer is easily won thanks to a referral .
Preparing your presentation
So now you come to the first presentation. Of course, you jump into PowerPoint and build gorgeous slides that put your agency and your team in the very best light down to the smallest detail. Actually, you have almost finished the president, because you always take it? Forget that! The first appointment only has to do one thing: show that you understand the future customer! So don’t be vain, do your homework.
Start researching the prospect. Take your time, take notes and make a mind map, a learning poster or other diagrams. Because you have to know exactly where the company comes from, who has something to say in the company and what line and strategy the company takes. This is the only way you can show genuine interest at the right moment and ask smart questions so that your future external boss feels understood.
Tip: If the contact was mediated by someone, this is your first and most important source of information. But be careful not to leak confidential information from old to new customer.
In addition to understanding , trust is also crucial to your success. If you lose the order despite perfect preparation, it is only due to soft factors. The decision-maker had not received a sufficiently positive gut feeling. Or he didn’t like your style purely subjectively. That’s all it is! The rejection of a prospect
almost never has anything to do with your qualification or performance .
Clear the stage: the pitch
You’ve prepared yourself, packed the most capable teammates, don’t forget your intellectual glasses *wink* and wear a Sacco for once? Wow! In the meantime, you have long since welcomed the decision-maker and his advisors (mostly the specialist department, the son, who will soon take over the company). You stand at the front of the beamer or in front of the huge TV. The presentation has begun. From now on, there is only one thing left for you: follow your feelings, because you are in your element.
A few basic rules of conduct for the “first date”
Exchange ideas openly and positively. Don’t be self-centered, but interested. Try to understand the company even better. When new information comes, write it down or otherwise record it. If you are corrected, see this as a chance to understand better!
You should only be careful at the end, because here the negotiation about services and conditions begins. Negotiation is not for everyone. You and your team need to notice when you reach this stage: now the creatives should be silent and your senior manager (you?) should talk to the decision maker.
Contract ping-pong: skillful negotiation
Between the first pitch and the conclusion of the contract, some time moves into the country. That’s a good thing: rose-colored glasses give way to critical scrutiny. Bit by bit, they agree on how to strive for a common goal over the next few months with fun and élan.
This is the stage of your application process that determines whether you are successful. And not because of the money to be negotiated, but because of the framework conditions. What result will you deliver? How (and how quickly) will you achieve it? What does the client have to do? How is communication done? How is it transferred?
- Take your time.
- Aim for a mutually realistic goal.
- Consult an experienced colleague and a lawyer if you are unsure.
The kick-off: a great (interim) goal
The contract is signed. This is a first, great success! You have to do two things. First, you must complete the previous stage worthily. A small speech, a thanksgiving, a handshake or maybe even a fine drop are appropriate. Secondly, you have to consciously guide the upcoming project work in ways and paths.
At this moment, two teams collide. Well-rehearsed teams, with power and experience. If you think of a football game or the movie 300, you know what can go wrong. That’s why the kick-off ritual is very important. If you did it right, the kick-off is even recorded in some detail in the contract.
At the kick-off, the kick-off, the participants meet for the first time in full strength. The kick-off meeting is the basis of the project team. It should take place as an open, friendly meeting where you can get the information you need first-hand. You share data, files, accesses and exchange essential knowledge . In addition to food and drinks, you could have creative tools, a whiteboard, and writing and sticky notes for everyone.
No meeting without a goal and a result. However, the kick-off meeting is there for information exchange and motivation. Therefore, we can summarize the objective and the result quite succinctly:
Objective of the kick-off meeting:
– getting to know each other
– Exchange of important information and access
– Arrange cooperation and responsibilities
Result of the kick-off meeting:
– The commitment of all team members
– Responsibilities and communication are formally fixed (if this was not already contractually regulated)
The project phase
The project phase is, of course, very different from task to task . Your project manager (maybe yourself?) will rock the child. Unfortunately, it is too often forgotten that many new opportunities can occur unexpectedly. You have to understand that your company has grown immensely with this project work. It has more freedom of movement, opens up new knowledge and maintains new contacts. It has become part of a Greater Whole. Does that not feelgood?
Therefore, use the project phase to make yourself useful elsewhere. Show that you care about the customer’s company and that you have even more to offer. Talk to other departments if the opportunity arises. Become a member of the family (figuratively speaking, of course: the decision-maker should perceive you as an employee).
Just don’t make one mistake: don’t hold your hand up too much. Nobody likes greedy or stingy people! Instead, you should understand the project phase as an acquisition process. (Mindset … Mindset… Mindset!)
For example, if you are asked to look at a little something, press a few buttons or give an assessment, then do not book the time in the current project. Instead, book the time in the acquisition account. Remember: If you are committed and motivated now, the chances of more orders and a long-term cooperation increase.
From the end of the project to sustainable cooperation
At least now it shows whether you have negotiated the contract well and the project has worked from kick-off to the end of the project . Were you able to achieve the goals? Where was the problem? Where did you overshoot the mark?
Finally, the project result is handed over. Now you talk to the formerly new customer like an old companion. In any case, it is desirable that you now have solid common ground. Be open, show successes, but also mistakes. Assess the work realistically and show ways forward .
If you’ve always been in acquisition mode throughout the cycle, now comes the inevitable: the work starts all over again! Just with a follow-up project. From a marketing point of view, you now have to develop or adapt your product. The customer no longer has any need for the old product. But he trusts in your performance, because he can now assess it and hopefully has had a very good experience with you. What do I mean by “product development”? Well, you have the classic options of product development, namely one of the following options:
- Vary your performance. Example: learn from the mistakes and offer the client performance-enhancing measures based on them. (variation, upgrading)
- Innovate your performance. Example: Agree on a service contract to regularly adapt the changes to business processes and technology made in the project to the development. (Innovation)
- Differentiate your performance: Use the generated knowledge and team structure to offer similar solutions to the customer in other areas.
The big advantage of this pragmatic approach is that there is now no other agency that can compete with you. On the one hand, you have your foot in the door. On the other hand, you have already completed the arduous part, the scheduling of the project and the cooperation. No agency can bid on that.
If, despite the best omens, there is no direct follow-up cooperation , then you will still emerge from winners. Keep in touch with this satisfied customer, because more orders for agencies rarely arise immediately, but only in the future. Follow the steps in the “New Customer Acquisition” section (above). Also, look at related industries : maybe you can offer your lessons from the past project elsewhere without committing a breach of trust…
Well, we are at the end (… arrived… *wink*). We wish you continued success and hope you can implement some ideas for yourself and your agency. If so, let us know in the comments. However, even if we forgot something important or you have other comments, feel free to leave a comment.
We have received a great many questions on this subject. You can find them as a summary in our FAQ: “Successful in Marketing”