Your products, services, and overall company is nothing unless you can sell. Do you know why salespeople get treated like kings and queens at companies? Because, if it weren’t for them, the company would be no company at all. They drive the revenue; they make things happen — you have to (initially) make things happen.
You will have no trouble selling digital marketing services in today’s market since there are many more businesses sprouting up that need marketing than not. Creating perceived value is critical to easily get clients to hand over money to you and your agency — have them believe you’re worth what you’re saying and you will always sell your digital marketing services.
Your services are nothing if you fail to invite people to them and hold their hand through the process of going from lead to closed client. The sales process required for a digital agency like yours will include a pipeline with a structure like: Lead, initial touch, meeting, proposal, negotiation, close — win/lose.
Every single person you meet should go in the lead portion of your pipeline. It won’t be hard to determine if they’re qualified immediately and if you should invest any time in pursuing them. Once you reach out to your leads, give a quick pitch to what it is your agency does, and attempt to set up a meeting, you will record how that initial touch went in your CRM so you can refer back to what was said and if they dropped any hints as to what they might want in their proposal, should they receive one down the line.
Preparing for this initial meeting shouldn’t be too daunting. You’re merely grabbing a coffee or visiting them at their office. As far as they should be able to tell, you’re not yet selling them on anything. This is beneficial for them and for you because it puts them in a more comfortable frame of mind and it prevents you from getting bent out of shape if you’re nervous about the sales process. Since we’re only meeting and greeting, there is absolutely no pressure.
Like a perfect match on a first date, this meeting can very quickly turn into something more and heat up in a matter of minutes. The second you hear them describe how they’re unhappy with their current supplier of digital services is your cue to jump in and start qualifying.
How are you currently getting your leads?
Do you have an email list that you keep in contact with?
Do you drive any paid traffic to your website currently?
These are all great questions that will get the prospect thinking in terms of what they’re not doing and what you can potentially provide since you’re the one getting them to consider it at all. If their answers are anything that isn’t completely shooting down what you’re saying — you have a solid shot at making this sale. At this point, they’re a red-hot qualified lead; don’t mess it up.
Casually mention how all the problems that they’re struggling with are things that your agency actually works on with existing clients.
You mention that you don’t email your list as often as you’d like — we actually manage some clients’ email lists and maintain their email marketing strategies for them; it’s included in the marketing package they have with us.
You’ve now opened up the floor for them to dig more into what it is that you provide and how you can help them. Get in there and describe your services and how they can help your client. More importantly — remember — focus on the results that these services provide.
By sending out weekly email blasts to their contact list of over 20,000, they get at least 100 responses of interested buyers every time an email goes out. More importantly, the rest of the people with our open rate of nearly 50% are constantly reminded of the client and what they do so they’re always top of mind.
This is a solid pitch for email marketing because you’re proposing multiple streams of potential value with technically only one service. Email marketing is providing brand awareness, lead generation, and constant contact with their potential buyers. You’re not telling them about the software you’re using to blast out the emails or the layouts you’re using to generate the funnel pages — you’re simply giving them the overall tool that is used to get them the results that increase their bottom line.
Once you talk about all you can do and the benefits of everything, ask if they have a marketing budget and what they’re looking to spend on this. We’ll go into tactics to hit them with if they’re pushing back on your prices in later programs but for right now laying down on your first client isn’t the worst thing that has happened to an early agency owner. Explain to them that you’ll write something up for them and be in touch very shortly.
The minute you leave their vicinity you should begin writing up their proposal. Give a detailed description of what you’re doing to do, what benefits they can see, and cater it extremely specifically to their unique situation and business. This will give them a sense that you understand their industry and their issues and that you are more fit than anyone else to serve them because competing agencies handed them a templated proposal that is generic enough to be handed to just about any business owner in any market.
As soon as you shoot them the write-up, give a call and follow up so you can walk through the proposal together and there’s no ambiguity regarding your services, their expectations, and your pricing. Send over a payable-by-credit card invoice and begin building a foundation for your first client.
How to Sell
"Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission." ~ Zig Ziglar
You have to always be working. Everyone in real estate says things along the lines of, "No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I want everyone to know I’ll sell their house or sell them a house."
That is absolute and true devotion to the mission and this has to be you if you hope to sell more digital marketing services. If you’re at the ice cream parlor with your kids and see they have a poor Facebook page, you have to take some initiative and say to the manager that you can help them drive more traffic and increase sales.
You have to be aggressive with follow up as well. You must be shameless when it comes to rejection and you have to believe in yourself and your product too heavily that these things come so easily and naturally to you.
You’ll find people appreciate your seemingly severe outreach instead of being annoyed by it. Buyers rarely want to take initiative and hand someone a fat check for digital services that they can’t even tangibly handle — this doesn’t mean that they do not want it and it certainly doesn’t mean that they do not need it. The art of sales is knowing how to hold someone’s hand through their entire buying process and removing all effort and friction from them so that all they have to do is sign on the dotted line and start directly depositing your money.
Your CRM and pipeline
Your CRM is your customer relationship manager — this is where all your leads go and how you keep track of where accounts are in the sales process and what your next actions on them are. You’ll be including things such as leads, their info, important dates, organizations, and more.
Incoming Leads: This is how you can ensure that everyone you come in contact with is going to get pitched eventually and somehow. This is the way you want it to be. Everyone starts off as a lead and you disqualify from there.
Since digital services are so broad and widely desired, nearly every person you encounter from plumbers to hotel managers could do business with you. Because of this, your pipeline should be extremely full as opposed to enterprise SaaS products’ sales teams’ who may only have 1000 buyers in the entire country.
Contact Info: This is important because even those that you’re not directly doing business with can be great contacts. You want to keep their birthdays, special events they tell you about so you can be reminded about them later on, and other things like that in your CRM so you’re always on top of the people that matter most to you and your business.
Your pipeline is one of the most important things to your business. You want to keep your pipeline full and always moving to the right (toward the close column). You’re going to walk prospects through your sales process delicately and eventually close the sale — whether that closing is a win or lose. Keep in mind, losing deals is fine if you’re losing them in a timely fashion. Get people to say no during the first meeting instead of five meetings and three months down the line when you’ve invested time and energy into them.
Your CRM is also useful to track how certain projects for specific accounts are going. Since your CRM is, hopefully, cloud-based and everyone on the team has access to it, you can easily collaborate and ensure everyone’s on the same track regarding one accounts’ website and another’s video production.
Organizations: You’ll find many CRMs do a great (and sometimes confusing) job at partitioning between the individual, organization, type of lead, and so many other parameters. This is good and bad: bad because it may be confusing at first, but good for literally every other reason. You want to ensure that you aren’t pitching to the wrong person, going over someone’s head, or someone that doesn’t like the other person in the same company — it may sound absurd, but never forget that you’re dealing with people, not logical computer programs or robots, people with feelings. By tracking which companies you’re pitching to, the actual person, their role, and their history, you’ll have a much better idea of how to close the sale.
Collaboration: Like we mentioned before, your CRM should be in the cloud. Don’t be foolish and ensure your connections are always secure and such since this is extremely sensitive information. Once you claim a client, everyone on the sales team should understand and respect that they’re yours. Similarly, if you lost a client, everyone needs to know that in case someone planned on doing something with the account later on.
Dates & Misc. Info: Your CRM should act as your second mind and secretary. Instead of having an intern follow you around during parties giving you factoids on who is who, you can always whip out your CRM’s mobile application and do enough due diligence to intelligently speak to somebody.
Great CRM’s have data from years in the past that have been organized and cultivated for a while. This is great for you if you’re enjoying all the free information, but somebody had to create that system in the first place. Be the one for your agency to add all the important and personable information so your future salesforce will effectively take over.
Since you should consider anyone and everyone a lead no matter what, how can we properly manage them all in our pipeline? Put them through your sales process and if they have other qualifications or can be useful somewhere else just put them where they belong in whichever pipeline is best at the time.
You may have separate pipelines for a video production project than you do for a website project. You may have certain prospects in multiple pipelines at once. Whatever the individual case calls for, it’s important to organize everyone where they belong so contacts don’t fall through the cracks — there’s nothing worse than losing a deal because you failed to follow up.
Next is prospecting. That person you met at the bar who gave you their business card to stay in touch is only a lead. You know nothing about them. Prospecting is getting leads that would be ever so slightly more valuable — you probably wouldn’t actively go to the bar to prospect and generate leads unless you were selling booze or cigarettes. This is when you send emails to only those that are working in the medical field, or only going to real estate meetups, for example. You’re prospecting because you’re hitting the people that have a higher potential of doing business with you. You’re cutting out the fat and intentionally putting yourself in the environment that your perfect lead hangs out in.
This can be especially difficult if you don’t know where your perfect lead hangs out. Calaborationdoes work for municipalities and politicians. It’s not always intuitive where to find a list of every public figure running for office — it’s always easy to find a group of real estate agents. Finding where your ideal client hangs out is crucial to how full your pipeline remains.
Qualifying can be done during the first meeting or even the first phone call or email. This is when you ask them the questions that would indicate if they’d be interested in and willing to take action on your services. Ask things like:
- What’s your budget?
- Are you working with other agencies at the moment?
- What’s your timeline?
All these contribute to your next step which is determining their needs.
Needs Analysis. Here, you are in the meeting and figuring out exactly how you can work together. You’re deciding on timelines together and hashing out details about how it may look if you all move forward. If this all goes well and everyone is comfortable with pricing and timing, then you can send over the proposal.
You never want anyone to be surprised when they get the proposal. Include all the nitty-gritty details and such and ensure you don’t sticker shock them with pricing that wasn’t discussed earlier. This should be done a week, at maximum, after your needs analysis meeting. Obviously, offer to come in or hop on a call so you can walk through the proposal together and not have them sitting there wondering what you’re actually going to be doing for them.
Negotiation. They will likely come back at you with some requests to change and remove some things. This is perfectly fine but ensure you’re not taking any losses.
An early Calaboration client’s agreement came out to just about over $2,000 per month. The exact figure was an odd number that only came out that way because it was such a custom package. There were too many negotiations we eventually pulled the agreement altogether.
The prospect firstly wanted to bring the cost down to an even number which was oddly annoying because this delayed the entire process an extra week so they can save a couple hundred dollars. This was a red flag immediately because if someone is going to cause a fuss over that kind of savings they will likely not be a fun client to work with.
Further, negotiations cost you money. You’re not only losing money by bringing down the price for this prospect, but you’re actively rewriting proposals and scheduling more meetings to go over revisions. After three negotiating meetings, that deal is dead and no longer worth it.
Close. Finally, you’re there. If you made it this far and still lost the client, eat the time and energy wasted and put it away as a learning experience. Cut your deadweight prospects before you make it this far by aggressively selling and getting them to say no early and often — this will save you hundreds of hours.
If you won the client, congratulations! Now get to work.
Sales Process and Follow Up
You’re going to start with the initial meeting. This is where you get introduced via email, cold call, or at an event. You’re both very cold but it’s your job to warm them up and get them to do business with you.
You always want to follow up with your leads and prospects.
Like we mentioned earlier, you should always stay on top of people until they tell you no. Even when they tell you no, you want to reach back out to them in a few months once their situation has changed.
You want to email them right away after you receive their business card for the first time. If no answer, you want to hit them again a week later. If it’s someone you really want, you would even give a call and even drop by.
Here is the typical process we take at Calaboriton. It can be refined and if you’re a master salesperson you would get this all done in one step but we’re not all Zig Ziglar.
Set up a meeting. I don’t care who it is or what they do but just get in front of them. If absolutely nothing else, you’ll be able to ask them who they know who may need you.
During this meeting, you’ll be doing one of two things. They’re either expecting a pitch and want you to tell them more about what you do, or they’ll just be networking. Come ready to sell and give the presentation. This is where you figure out what deck you’ll actually use to sell your products and services.
After your meeting, they may tell you thanks and to talk soon or to send a proposal. Send them the proposal and follow up immediately. Let them know you’re thinking about them and you’d like to go over the proposal with them. This is where a lot of people are going to drop off because they don’t want to actually spend money. It’s your job to make it easy and justifiable for them to give you money since you’re helping them with their business.
If they need it, give them space. You’re only going to agitate the waters if you are too aggressive. However, you want to have healthy follow up. Give them a week, at most. If they say they need a month to think about it, ask them the right questions like:
- What’s holding you back?
- What do you need to start right now?
If they still say they need a month call them in two weeks.
If your follow up is working, you will set up another meeting and expect payment during that time. Ensure all the decision makers are in the room, give one final presentation, and get to work.
Hopefully, you will encounter people that don’t even ask some of these questions and simply accept their ignorance on technology and allow you to do the work. They’ve probably heard that digital marketing is essential and if you were there at the right time and place you may be the one they have to choose from.
- "Our customers aren’t on these platforms"
This is just silly. You’re telling me that out of the 2 billion people on Facebook and the 40,000 google searches per second that none of these would be qualified leads for you?
The truth is, just about everyone and their mother is on Facebook. Everyone especially has at least email and email marketing can be part of your package. Simply tell them the people you have now don’t seem like candidates but you will find a new wave of leads once we start this up.
- "Direct mail is the only platform that works!"
I’m sure it works great — but this works better.
- "Nobody falls for ads."
If no one clicked on advertisements these platforms that rely on ads for revenue wouldn’t be in business.
- "This is way too expensive!"
We are a premium agency. I implore you to go with the cheaper agency but we may have moved up in price by the time you want to come back.
If you proposed your services properly and demonstrated how the client would be making a return on their investment, saying it’s too expensive is their attempt at lowballing you or telling you to forget about it and they’re not interested. The value you get for digital advertising is too great for anyone to be complaining about pricing and the services you’re providing by handling these accounts for them will make them money in their sleep.
- "It’s not the right time"
It’s never the right time. This is something that builds upon itself and only grows over time. If you’re not able to justify the cost and essentially have our services pay for itself, then you’re free to drop off.
- "I have to talk to my partner."
I love/hate this one. First of all, why aren’t you talking to both of them? The overall decision maker is not there.
Secondly, you have to convince this one person that the deal is going to be worth it and that their partner would be mad that they didn’t just pull the trigger right then and there. Tell them how they’d be doing a favor to their entire company by signing right now and instead of badgering their partner with discussions, they can barrel in with the solution already implemented.
- "I don’t want contracts that I can’t back out of."
This is actually to benefit you and us. If we were to sign on for a month-by-month deal, we’d be spinning our wheels trying to get you any and every result we can just for the sake of getting you to continue working with us next month. Once we know we have a runway of six months, we can actually do this correctly and figure things out for the long term.
Don’t make the same mistake Jerry Maguire did. You’re going to have to put the agreement on paper and lock your client in for a period of time. If they can’t understand this, then they have no business running a business themselves.
Once you’re comfortable with your services, what you’re selling, and how they can help businesses, you’ll have no trouble selling them. Understand your worth and you’ll have no problem selling your digital marketing services.