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Why Your Inbound Marketing Agency’s Sales Process Is Confusing Prospects

Posted by Mike Lieberman on Sep 29, 2015 10:00:00 AM

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Confused_About_Inbound_AgenciesToday there are more inbound agencies on the planet than ever before. Regardless of what they look on the inside, from your prospect’s perspective they all look alike. It’s your job as an inbound agency owner and as a marketer to make your agency look different.

This differentiation exercise has to start from the first time a potential client visits your website. The prospect is probably visiting three or four inbound marketing agency websites and if they don’t know what makes you special in the first ten seconds, they might never come back.

But that’s an article for another day, today we’re talking about what happens when they actually reach out to you and ask to speak with you. 

Remember, they’re talking to three or four other inbound agencies too. But now that the ball is in your court—what do you do and what do you say to make them hire you?

We Have To Hire This Company!

This should be the mantra all through your process. You have to give them such a remarkable experience and you have to design a process to produce this phrase, “we have to hire this company.” If your prospects are not uttering those words, you have more work to do.

They Have to Feel Safe

This means from the first time you reach out via email, every single phone conversation and each personal interaction you have to deliver value and you have to make progress getting them to feel safe. Yes, you have to create an emotional feeling inside each of the decision makers. They have to FEEL that your agency is the safest pick. In fact, your sales cycle is going to last as long as it needs to last until they get that feeling.

The question you might be asking is, “how do I get them to feel safe?” The answer lies with inbound sales and a very well defined sales process. So instead of doing an agency capabilities presentation or a HubSpot demo instead work harder to understand their goals, their concerns and the areas they’re most worried about.

Adapt The Process For Each Prospect

For instance, if they say they’re concerned that the people working on their account might not be experienced enough to deal with their challenges, then it has to be part of your sales process to connect them directly with the specific people they’re going to be working with. This should help them get to know their team, ask them any specific questions, get to know their background and experience and hopefully like the people they’re going to work with.

Here’s another example, if they are concerned about the time it’s going to take to see results, make sure you have the right conversations with the right people around that issue. It might make sense for them to talk with a client who was comfortable waiting 8 months because they can tell their story of how they were patient and it did pay off.

Practice What You Preach

Make sure you walk them through a process that matches perfectly with what you’re going to recommend for them. Use content in the sales process, just like you’d want them to do with their prospects. Co-create the set of recommendations with them, just like you’re going to suggest they do with their prospects. Resist the urge to sell, or push during the sales process. Treat them like you’d want to be treated and model the correct behavior for them. This helps them get extremely comfortable with the process and when they see you using the tools you’re recommending to them, they will start feeling safer.

Talk Numbers

People with certain personality types get very comfortable when you talk specifics. Others are interested in the big picture and not the details. Understanding who Power (the person who signs the agreement or the check) is and tailoring your stories to Power is very important. If details are what Power wants, give her the details. You clearly let her know that these are not promises, guarantees, or projections but highly educated guesses based on experiences with other clients and other inbound programs.

However, you are going to be setting these projections for her on a regular basis and adjusting those projections based on her data as soon as that information is available. Over time these numbers will be very reliable and over time, you would be willing to put some of your compensation at risk, assuming she’s following your direction and not asking for deliverables that are out of line with delivering these numbers.

Be Confident

If you’re not sure, they’re not going to be sure either and uncertainty leads to anxiousness which means no sale. I promise you even if this is your second inbound engagement you know twice as much as any of your clients who have no experience with inbound. If you’ve been practicing inbound for a few years, than you have exponentially more experience than any of your clients, even those who are executing a single engagement for their company. Keep that in mind. There is value in that experience.

Finally, dance like no one is looking. If you have to beg for the work, no one is going to feel safe. Discounting your services doesn’t make anyone feel safe. Changing payment terms doesn’t make anyone feel safe. What makes people feel safe is saying no. “This might not be a good fit for us, I suggest you consider some other agencies." This is the fastest way to getting them to listen to you, to accept your price and payment schedule, and to get started. Try it. You’ll be surprised.

Start Today Tip – You MUST HAVE a mapped out sales process. It has to be on paper, so you can share it with everyone in your company. If you don’t have this, you need to work on this immediately. If you do have it and no one has seen it, you have to share it and train everyone on it. If this process is missing any of the key ingredients you’d be recommending to clients, add them immediately. Make sure it includes content, video, blog articles, and key stories that feature your clients as the hero. NEVER deviate from the process. NEVER leave it because a prospect asks you to. ALWAYS tell your prospects that you have a process and share each of the steps with them on the very first call. They should feel very good that you have this and that they know what to expect.

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Topics: inbound agency new business development, new business development, Sales Process, inbound sales

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