The Difference in Development – My Agency Sales Experience Thus Far

Written by 5ivecanons Staff

Now that it’s been a little less than two months adjusting to the #agencylife, I can already see the difference in clientele and the ability to secure new business – compared to the large format printing industry. Here are a few personal struggles that I’ve had adjusting to the industry switch.

1) It’s about relationships

Clients who deal with agencies are much more committed to relationships than they are with printers. Most of the clients I have dealt with in my printing career will either go with the cheapest price or whoever can produce it the fastest, that’s really it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard over the last 11 years, “If you can’t get it done by this date, then we’ll take it to someone who can” – with no love lost. Agency clients value stability and consistency. They tend to stick with what they know and who they’ve used before. Sometimes if it’s not broke, they don’t believe there is a need to fix it.*

(*If you have any suggestions to rebut this other than we’re more creative, please comment below.)

2) It’s as much about convenience as anything else.

What I’ve noticed with agency clients or potential new business, is that sometimes it’s just more convenient to stay where you are. I’ve equated it to changing banks. No matter what a bank can offer you to move your accounts over to their bank, the reality is you just don’t want to deal with the headache. Waiting for your new debit cards, setting up your bill-pay accounts again, remembering to change your automatic withdrawal accounts, updating your billing info all over the internet. It’s a major hassle.

So in order for a potential client to want to deal with this transitional headache, it comes down to three things: disdain for their current agency, a change in management, or offering something their current agency can’t. As much as agency people want to believe it’s about their creative work and their process, the bottom line is if the client likes you and you’re responsive, they’ll stay.

3) Clients would rather have a stable of experts than a “one-stop-shop”

Let me first say how much I hate the term “one-stop-shop”, if I hear it one more time, I honestly might lose it. All that says to me is that you’re half-ass at a lot of things, but not really great at anything.

Clients are now looking for a variety of services and skills. They want a traditional agency, a digital agency, a software development group, mobile group, – they want everything, but not within any one company. Putting all your eggs in one basket can prove disastrous.

Most clients would rather have you tell them that it’s not something you handle in-house, but you have a resource of experts that can get it done. Gone are the days where “outsourcing” was a bad word. Now its referred to as “crowdsourcing” and clients will pay you to manage it. Admitting what you know and what you don’t know builds trust, and clients who trust the relationship will trust you to make the proper decisions.

4) Clients want to buy, not be sold.

I can tell you by my recent experience that cold calling and email blasts are not bringing home the bacon. These tactics still work in some industries, printing being one of them, but that doesn’t seem to hold true to advertising agencies.

I’ve noticed the road to new business comes down to two thingsnetworking and opportunity. It reminds me of that old quote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, ” and clients are now looking to choose an agency that they, or someone on their staff, are familiar with. Agencies that follow up over a longer period of time seem to have the best opportunity to win business, especially when a client isn’t familiar with them. I personally think this equates to the client truly feeling like the agency wants to work specifically with them and not just any client in their space. It gives them the feeling that they’re choosing an agency, not being sold. For agencies, it’s about timing and positioning and getting those two things to line up properly.

My closing disclaimer:

These are just my personal opinions and observations based on two months in the agency world, which probably means nothing. I’m learning that, in this industry, good things come to those who wait, work hard, and network. Advertising agencies are not an impulse purchase. Preparation has to meet opportunity at the right time. All I can do is work to win the opportunities that we can create, and help position our agency as a future resource to ones we don’t. The goal is not win every opportunity, the goal is to always be included in the conversation.

Questions? Drop me a line

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