As you consider how to improve your new business success going into 2017, you may want to first identify why some opportunities did not convert.
We’ve pulled together a short list of the key factors that impact lead conversion. When working with agency clients, we first bucket these factors into those that are within agency control, and those that are not. And while it’s great to understand the latter for perspective, it’s more important to know what can be done to address the former – to ensure these factors do not get in the way of winning new business.
What you can’t control
Here are the most common reasons why agencies lose opportunities with seemingly interested and engaged prospects, even after a great first meeting and proposal:
- The prospect moves to another division or leaves the company altogether, and you have to start all over with a new person in the role.
- The company decides to spend the earmarked budget elsewhere, or has no realistic budget set aside for the project.
- Someone at the company has a relationship with X agency and brings them in last minute (because they were just shopping after all).
- The prospect gets a new boss and has to start all over to justify budgets and plans.
- The company or division gets bought out.
These situations happen all the time, at all kinds and sizes of prospect companies. You just can’t plan for them, and you can’t avoid them either.
The good news is that there are factors that are in your control. If you’re prepared to address them, you ensure a full pipeline of engaged prospects, which in turns means that opportunities lost for reasons above do not derail all your new business goals.
What you can control
The most common reasons why agencies do not succeed in engaging prospects to get to the first meeting, or reasons why they have lost the opportunity after the first meeting, are:
- The agency does not have the relevant expertise (i.e. You’re going after the wrong target brands or responding to RFPs because you “need the business.”)
- Your agency case studies do not show results that provide credibility.
- The agency does not follow-up diligently to nurture the prospect and his/her influencers by using all avenues such as social, LinkedIn, email, customized drip content, direct mail.
- The agency presentation is focused on the agency and not on the prospects’ pain points.
- Leads are not properly qualified to identify the prospect’s needs in relation to what the agency provides.
- The agency does not demonstrate that they walk the talk on expertise, category insights, digital platforms (i.e. marketing automation, social media).
- The agency does not have strong thought leadership or unique sales content that demonstrates subject matter expertise and unique point of view.
So what can you do to prevent these issues from getting in the way of new business success? In my experience, there are five key elements to optimizing lead conversion that must be in place:
- A focused agency positioning that clearly defines your unique point of view, provides the basis for thought leadership, and gives a tight definition of your ideal prospect target audience.
- Walk the talk: Utilize content marketing and automation, social media, direct marketing, and all other customer engagement and sales methodologies for your own agency growth plan.
- Develop a large universe of targets for the Top of the Funnel to drive awareness and demand for your agency, and deploy a system that can track and analyze a prospect’s activity and engagement.
- Use Account Based Marketing (ABM) in the Middle of the Funnel to move engaged prospects deeper into a relationship and provide them with the content needed to educate them about your services and solutions.
- Once you have established a relationship, never give up on nurturing – most often, a “no” really means “not now/yet” or “I need more info. Are you listening to me?” If you stop nurturing, you will not be there when the prospect is finally ready. And the Bottom of the Funnel is where you can make the most impact, as you already have a foot in the door.
As you prepare your new business plan for 2017, review the lists above and ask yourself if you have the key elements in place. Or download our Agency New Business Elements checklist to identify the gaps and how you can fill them.
While it sometimes seems like the “win” is out of your control, you can make an impact on your lead conversions and accelerate your new business wins once you break things down and focus on the elements you can control.
Marian Temesvary is a new business pro who has created growth for marketing agencies and B2B service firms. Prior to that, she worked with several major brands including Weber Grills, Nike and Apple, and has extensive healthcare experience from a progressive career at Johnson & Johnson. In her current role as Managing Partner at Linkergy, Marian brings extensive expertise in market planning, new business strategy, content marketing, prospect engagement, and professional services branding.