Written by Michael Keenan

January 29, 2020

Agency business development is often overlooked for new owners, something you should do when you get the time or money to hire a specialist. 

In reality, how you drive business development is a valuable agency practice, one that influences the type of clients you take on, creates a first impression for employees and clients alike, expresses key information about your business, and turns leads into paying customers. 

Aside from relying on word-of-mouth business to grow your agency, what else can you do to stimulate growth and make the most of your business development efforts? 

Here are five key tips you can implement today to help scale your agency. 

1. Solve one problem, and solve it well

However you decide to develop your agency, the first thing you need to accomplish is explaining the problem you solve and who you serve. 

When interested prospects discover your agency for the first time, you need to quickly give them the information they need to keep sticking around. Agencies that try to be the “all in one” for everyone won’t keep prospects’ attention for too long. You want to focus on the end goal: How can I specialize and start eliminating competition?

For many agencies, such as Misfit Media, that means spelling out exactly who they are for visitors in clear and simple terms. 

Agency Business Development Example - Do One Thing and Do It Well

Your specialty doesn’t always have to be an industry either. It can be a problem a few industries have that you can solve; for example, generating revenue from webinars. A skill set like this would include everything from generating leads for the webinar, improving sign-up rates, creating follow-up flows, and helping the business pull in revenue. 

If you’re not sure where to start, look at everything you’re already doing. Then do a process of elimination. What’s one thing you don’t like doing anymore? And get rid of it. The best approach early on is to try different things, and test what works and is most profitable. 

Then you can build a foundation for growing an agency. A good process to follow for this type of agency development is:

  1. Drill down far enough to understand what clients want and their biggest challenges.
  2. Position yourself to solve the problem.
  3. Find a small commitment, low-risk offer for prospects who want to try you out. 
  4. Grab their attention. 
  5. Build a relationship with them and help them when they need it. 

Not sure who your best clients are? Take a look back at your past projects and determine:

  • Who were the best clients to work with?
  • Which clients were the most profitable?
  • Who were you able to deliver extraordinary results for?

Once you have a framework for the problem you solve and who your clients are, you don’t have to say yes to everything. You can turn down work, and put more time into saying yes to the right clients, and build a community around your brand — which can lead to boosting the value of your agency. 

2. Set up a pricing strategy

Setting a pricing strategy for your agency can be valuable as you take it to the next level. A set pricing strategy helps in two ways. One, you can quickly scope and price projects. Two, it can significantly increase cash flow. 

There are a number of different pricing models you can use in your agency. So consider what would be most valuable to your agency before you implement a strategy. 

Here are a few approaches you can take with your pricing strategy:

  • Fixed-fee: You scope out a price for client deliverables and get paid said price. This works for “one and done” type projects; for example, you build a birthday bot and hand it off to a client — and that’s it. 
  • Hourly: You charge clients for the amount of time put into a project. This is a common strategy for consultants, freelancers, and agencies who provide Chat Marketing services.
  • Retainer: Client pays a set fee based on time or deliverables. 

Jason Swenk, an expert in growing and selling agencies, shares his pricing strategy on the Outsourcing and Scaling podcast: 

“If it’s a retainer, I’m always billing ahead of time. If they don’t pay, they don’t get any work. I don’t have to chase them down. If you’re in a project, what we would do is we would change this up a little bit so we could increase cash flow. Let’s say you get $100,000 project and you get 50% upfront, but the client keeps dragging their heels. I’ve never seen a client get me stuff I need on time, which always delays the project, which always delays when I’m getting paid.”

No matter the pricing strategy you use, there are a few best practices to always keep in mind: 

  • Consider whether or not you want to make pricing public. Some agencies prefer not to. Instead, they use a Messenger bot to field pricing requests and contact forms. There are many different variables in digital services, so it can be hard to state one price for all. 
  • Offer packages. If you have a definitive scope and experience in delivering certain projects, opt for offering pricing packages. They can be helpful for potential clients who don’t know much about Chat Marketing services. 
  • Aim for recurring revenue models. Whether you’re running Facebook ad campaigns or Messenger bot maintenance, you want to create recurring income for your agency. Chat Marketing services are typically not something you can wrap up in a single project. They require a recurring revenue model such as retainers. 

Keep in mind that you can increase your pricing as you become more valuable as an agency. You want to make sure you can deliver on your promise, however, because those clients won’t stick around for long if you don’t help hit their goals. 

3. Get the right tools

With the right marketing tools, there are plenty of options to drive results for clients. Make use of a Chat Marketing platform and marketing automation to deliver content and build closer ties with leads in time, whether it’s a YouTube video or mini-course. 

Many agencies miss the mark by not leveraging tools that support both the agency and the clients. In addition to sharing content, tools can help you keep track of leads and all the communication you have with them. For example, you can jump in a live chat to answer questions in real-time, send text reminders, and more. 

Here are some of the best marketing tools you can use to develop your agency skillset:

  • ManyChat: Automate and build relationships with leads with SMS, Messenger, and email, all in one place.
  • Agorapulse: Manage all your social networks and monitor competitors in one intuitive dashboard.
  • Notion: Write, plan, and collaborate with your team and keep everyone on the same page.
  • HubSpot: Bring all your marketing and sales tools together, convert leads, and so much more. 
  • Klipfolio: define, monitor, and report on analytics for your agency and it’s clients.  

Whatever tools you choose, keep your goals in mind and determine how they all fit together to help you grow ROI for both clients and your agency. 

Drive more revenue and scale your agency easier with ManyChat. Sign up today.

4. Spend time building and improving your processes

It’s extremely common for early-stage agency owners to run without a defined process. Sometimes they’ll end up an agency on accident. Their client base grew fast, and they kind of wing it as they go. 

But standardizing a process for your agency can improve productivity and remove inefficiencies — which is why it’s important to take a step back and build, or continually improve, your process. 

One way to approach building an agency process is:

  1. Take note of how salespeople respond to incoming queries.
  2. Take industry best practices and adapt them to your agency. 
  3. Eliminate any activities that don’t bring value. 
  4. Develop workflows and templates based on new practices that work.

As an agency owner, you shouldn’t be spending too much time on client work. Whether it’s your scoping process or delivery system, you want to build processes that people talk about. Your goal is to build processes that help your team work better so you can work on growing your business. 

When you put good systems in place, everyone from new team members to clients can follow them without question. This keeps everyone organized and on the same page. 

5. Train sales on NBAT

Sales is an essential part of agency business development, and training a sales team on remembering NBAT can help you close deals faster — whether that sales team is a few people or just yourself. N.B.A.T. stands for “Need, Budget, Authority, and Timing”, and is a tactic taught by Jason Swenk to streamline the agency sales process. 

Before your next project conversation, remember NBAT:

  • Need: Find out the clients’ needs and what results they expect from you. Ask how the work you’ll be doing fits into the company’s overall vision. If more than one person needs to answer the question, hang on to this information. 
  • Budget: Ask what their budget is. Odds are, you won’t get a real number. So start by saying something ridiculously high, such as, “What if the project comes in at $500,000? $300,000?” Their response will likely be a more realistic number or will point you in the direction of someone who can answer it.
  • Authority: Are you talking to the decision maker? Could they answer your questions about needs and budget? If not, ask for another person so you can talk with someone who will actually be able to hire you. 
  • Timing: Make sure the client’s timeline works for you. If not, you’ll set yourself up for failure. 

Not only will training your sales team improve efficiencies, but you’ll also be able to empower them by providing them with a framework that works and helps them close more deals, faster. Remember, not every client will be the best fit for your agency. If their needs or budget doesn’t match up with what you can deliver, pass it off to someone else. Don’t take on work that will make your business look bad. 

Making the most of your agency business development

If you want to get more leads and close more deals, you need to work on developing your business. As you go about building relationships with clients on Messenger and creating processes for your agency, both prospects and clients are bound to engage with you out of curiosity or to ask for help. It’ll help you grow and scale with less struggle, plus, differentiate you from other agencies so you find greater success. 

Ready to take your agency to the next level? Get a ManyChat account today.