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The Profitable Agency: Reduce Business Development Time

Clock_GraphicIf your agency is publishing content, engaging on social, sending targeted emails and investing in paid campaigns, you can generate a stream of new, qualified leads.

New leads intrinsically translate to potential profits. However, spending too much time in the business development process (10+ hours), and giving away your best strategy and creative to win new business could have the opposite effect.

Every minute you spend trying to win new business is a minute you spend not making money.

Instead of wasting time on nurturing and building out proposals for low quality leads, define and commit to a lead qualification process. Use this process to quickly identify those leads that truly want to work with you, and are a good fit for the services you offer.

To qualify leads faster, you’ll need to develop a standard process for assessing and prioritizing quality leads.

1. Create an Ideal Client Profile

Start by building out a profile that details what an ideal client looks like. This profile can be used to give you a quick lead evaluation checklist and/or to set up lead scoring.

To build this profile, ask yourself the following questions about your best clients:

  • Are they project or campaign based?
  • What are their budgets?
  • What are their growth goals?
  • What metrics matter most, and how do they define success?
  • What are their problems, pain points and obstacles to success?
  • What are their priority needs?
  • What industry are they in?
  • What is the account’s growth potential?
  • What type of assets did they have available at the start of your partnership?
  • What is their decision-making process?
  • Are they primarily seeking tactical or strategic support?
  • How big is their internal marketing team?

2. Use Technology to Collect Answers

Agencies have a variety of technologies at their disposal that can be used to collect valuable information about leads. This technology is often what we put into practice to support our own client marketing campaigns, including analytics, survey tools and automation.

  • Build lead form fields to collect essential information about a contact, including: job title, website URL, industry, company size and revenue range. Marketing automation tools, such as HubSpot, are ideal for this.
  • Lead-intelligence platforms, like HubSpot, can help assess a lead’s level of interest in you based on their onsite activity (i.e. repeat visits, pages visited, number of conversions).
  • Use Google search, their website and LinkedIn to learn about the company. Are there any red flags, such as bad press, poor reviews, no website, unremarkable products/services or lack of marketing assets?
  • Request access to their web analytics accounts to view historical website and conversion performance data.
  • Finally, send them a survey that asks them to rate their business as it relates to marketing. Include questions about business financials, opportunities for growth, brand awareness, existing marketing efforts, lead sources and net promoter score. We’ve used this approach to great effect, and it was the impetus behind Marketing Score, which is a free tool that asks users to assess 130 different factors of their marketing across 10 core business areas.

3. Make a Determination Faster

From the information gathered above, and your one-on-one communications with the prospect, you’ll have sufficient information to determine if the lead is a good fit for your agency.

If you know they’re not a fit, don’t draw things out. Be prepared to decline the opportunity and refocus your time on profit-generating client work.

Learn to trust your instincts. Commit your talent and energy only to those prospects who value it and where you know you can make an impact. These are the clients that will remain with you for the long term, and that can help you establish a solid client portfolio. Less churn equates to predictable revenue and greater profits.

Learn about more opportunities to grow a profitable agency by registering for our upcoming webinar. Paul Roetzer and Chirag Ahuja will walk you through the impact of talent, tech and strategy on the long-term success and profitability of your agency.

Image Credit: Wikimedia.org