In its most basic form, a sales funnel consists of leads, prospects, and customers. Agencies need to fill the funnel at the top, nurture in the middle, and convert at the end. (See Figure 6.1.) Every agency, no matter its size, can benefit from having a formal system in place to manage its new business development efforts. However, as we discussed in earlier chapters, growth in model agencies is driven by the need to attract and retain top talent. So it is important that agencies work to find balance when building their sales systems and plans.
If you grow too quickly, without the proper infrastructure and personnel in place, you run the risk of failing to deliver on promises to clients, stretching account teams too thin, and inflicting irreparable damage to your brand. Meanwhile, if you struggle to maintain a strong pipeline of qualified leads, you may face difficult challenges that can lead to cash flow crunches, cutbacks, and talent turnover. The key is to concentrate on creating a sales system that meets your current needs for lead generation and is scalable to your long-term growth goals. Let’s start by considering some basic questions relevant to assessing and building your agency sales system. We further explore the following topics.
People, tools, and processes
The three core elements of an effective agency sales system are people, tools, and processes. Let’s examine each of these areas. People During my sophomore year at Ohio University, my Marketing 101 professor challenged the class to name a profession that was not sales. The room went silent for a few moments, then people started chiming in with careers such as a doctor, lawyer, homebuilder, librarian, and professional athlete.
He proceeded to demonstrate how, in fact, every one of them was in sales. He explained how their livelihoods depended on their ability to engage audiences and keep them coming back for more. His point was that everything is sales. The same holds true in a marketing agency. You are always selling. You are selling an idea, vision, service, agency brand, personal brand, and belief that your firm is more capable and qualified than the next one.
Traits of Successful Salespeople Steve W. Martin, who teaches sales strategy at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and is the author of the critically acclaimed Heavy Hitter book series about enterprise sales strategies, has interviewed thousands of top business-to-business salespeople. He has also administered personality tests to more than 1,000 of them, primarily in high technology and business services.
Top performers with sports backgrounds “are able to handle emotional disappointments, bounce back from losses, and mentally prepare themselves for the next opportunity to come.
Evaluating and Training Agency Salespeople Kurland & Associates was founded in 1985 by Dave Kurlan, a renowned expert in sales-force assessments, training, and strategic growth strategies, and author of Baseline Selling—How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball. The firm has helped companies of all sizes achieve growth, improve margins, recruit stronger salespeople, and develop high-performing sales professionals.