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Your Sales Process Is Killing Your Chances Of Signing New Inbound Marketing Agency Clients

Posted by Mike Lieberman on Jun 13, 2017 10:05:00 AM

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Three Out Of Four New Clients Said, “We Chose You Because Of Your Sales Process”

Inbound Marketing Agency Sales ProcessOn average Square 2 Marketing closes three to five new clients every single month. Granted sometimes they come in bunches, no new clients for three weeks and then three new clients in a single week, but you get the idea.

With all those data points, I’ve been asking our new clients why they chose use over other agencies and the answers are startling. “You took the time to listen to us.” “You and your team demonstrated expertise during the sales process.” “Your recommendations were exactly what we asked for and were aligned perfectly with our stated challenges.”

I want you to notice that not ONE SINGLE new client stated we were the cheapest. Or that we offered the most value for their budget. We got them to trust us and the other agencies didn’t. Let’s be crystal clear. We don’t win every opportunity and sometimes we fail to get them to trust us, but our process produces the right kind of leads and it helps us close the clients who are the best fit for our agency.

You should build the same type of process for your agency new business development efforts. Here’s how you either rebuild or fix your existing inbound marketing agency sales process to produce more opportunities and more new clients.


The key to getting new clients for your inbound marketing agency is spending all your time with those prospects who are going to make great clients and none of your time with those who will NEVER be great clients. This means qualification is a key first step that a lot of agency owners miss.

Here are three elements of qualification that we use.

PAIN – It’s the most important. Do they have pain? How acute is that pain? Show me a company with acute pain and I’ll show you a new client who signs their agreement in days instead of weeks or even months.

POWER – Are you talking to the person or people who have the final say on your work? Here’s a clever phrase to use. Will you be signing our agreement? Will you be signing our checks each month? If not, you’re not talking to power.

FIT – Do they need what you’re great at? If it’s inbound, are they all in on inbound? Do they want an inbound agency? If it’s about HubSpot, do they use HubSpot? Do they love HubSpot? The better the fit, the better chances you have of getting the business.

Make Then Feel Safe

I’m obsessed with this. IF they don’t feel safe with you, they’re never signing no matter what else you do. Your entire sales process has to be designed to get them to feel safe as fast as possible. That’s why an extensive questioning and get to know you session is so important. The more questions you ask and the more you get them talking about themselves (their favorite topic) the safer they’ll feel.

Content is another wonderful way to make prospects feel safe. If you share contextual and relevant content with them along the way, they’ll feel like you’re trying to educate them instead of controlling the information. Sales people historically controlled the flow of information by design. Today people get their own information. The more forthcoming you are with great content, the safer your prospects will feel.

Understand Their Pain Has To Be Acute

Inbound Marketing Agency Sales ProcessI talked about acute pain earlier, but it’s worth digging into more deeply. Acute pain or lack of acute pain doesn’t have much to do with the quality of the opportunity, but it has everything to do with the timing of the opportunity. No acute pain, no new business this month. Acute pain, new business this week.

When you find great opportunities without acute pain, just understand you might be working on that deal for months. The longer the sales cycle, the more risk. The mores chances for something to impact your ability to get the client.

Here’s an example. You’ve done a wonderful job with this prospect, they tell you how great your agency is and that they want to work with you but they’re not in a hurry and need a few more weeks to talk about it internally. You think you got it.

Here’s what goes on behind the scenes during those short few weeks. They lose their biggest client and budgets get frozen. They meet another agency who has something interesting to say. They go to a conference and rethink their entire marketing approach. Their incumbent agency offers to cut their fees to hold onto the business. All legitimate factors that you have no control over and all introduced because their pain was not acute enough for them to get started with you.

Dance Like No One Is Watching

Since you’re not selling you never offer discounts, special incentives to sign, no reduced fees or extra services. You help, you guide, you advise and you provide information. When they’re ready to sign, you’re ready to work with them. Maybe.

Maybe, what does that mean? It means you have to give them the impression that you’re so busy, you don’t NEED their business. You might want to work with them, that’s different. But whether they sign or not, it’s no different to you. In fact, you’re so busy that it might be hard finding a team for them if they wait too long. Or the pricing in your agreement might not be valid in a month, when they’re finally ready to get going.

Making it seem like your dance card is full or nearly full is important. It adds an element of acute pain to their decision. “If we don’t do something now, they might not be available.” Human beings want what they can’t have. Make your agency a little more exclusive or unavailable and watch the interest level rise.  

I talk to a lot of agency owners who say, “I hate selling, I’m just not comfortable in that role.” My response is almost always the same. If you set this up right, you won’t ever be selling or thinking you’re selling again. First, your prospects don’t want to be sold to, so why would you sell. They want advice, education and guidance. The better you do delivering that the safer they’re feel and the faster they’ll hire you.

Finally, what we do to engage with new business is a continual process of evaluation and matching, not selling. Do they have challenges you can help them with? Do they have money to pay you to help? Do they value the help you would be providing? Will they be able to benefit from the advice and guidance you provide and do they feel like you’re uniquely qualified to help them get to their goals? If the answer is yes, for both parties, you should have a new customer. It’s that simple. Design your process and their experience to deliver that mutual matching exercise and you’ll be swimming in new clients.

Start Today Tip – Once you change your perspective from sales person to Guide. That’s the phrase we use, you should change your entire approach. No more convincing. Only questions, answers and guidance. The more you guide, the more you’ll close. The more you help, the more they’ll trust you and the more you’ll close. Don’t forget to be selective. No matter what. No matter how badly you need the revenue, don’t take clients that are not going to be profitable, not going to be nice, or not going to ever give you a reference. Stick to these principles and you’ll grow. I guarantee it.


Agencies 2 Inbound – Helping Agencies GO ALL IN ON Inbound!

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

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