The 1-2-3 Guide to Business Development for Agencies

Business development guide for agencies

If you’re a B2B digital agency, you face a unique challenge – your focus is split between execution and growth. Often, your primary focus is towards clients by providing your services to help their own business succeed. However, you can’t neglect business expansion and customer growth for your own agency.

This creates a rather difficult conundrum for sales and marketing teams, specifically. They certainly cannot drive in leads and provide clients with a superior experience or service if the company itself is struggling. Yet, agencies can only survive by running faster and faster on the treadmill of lead generation and conversion.

According to HubSpot’s Marketing Agency Growth Report, 60% of agency leaders claim that their greatest challenge is lead generation. However, another significant challenge was a lack of strategic resources for sales and marketing, and 55% agreed that this was also standing in the way of their agency’s growth.

factors hindering agency growth

Source: HubSpot

This is why a business development strategy is so essential for agencies. This gives teams across all departments a blueprint to follow to create a unified brand voice and provides direction for sales, marketing, and growth initiatives.

While business development may be not be easy, thankfully, getting started can be as simple as 1-2-3. Let me elaborate.

Key Takeaways:

  • Agencies need to take the time to analyze their services and processes in detail, and clearly articulate and package the offer for potential clients.
  • Think of yourself as your best client. Implement an evolving lead generation strategy that uses both technology and specialist insights.
  • If you can’t measure it, you can’t grow it.

1. Know Your Offerings – And Your Advantage

It’s nearly impossible to design an effective business development plan if there is not a unified objective. But the first step is to have a deep understanding of what your agency brings to the table that sets it apart from competitors. Again, this is a major challenge for most agencies. The HubSpot report states that 1 out of 4 agencies struggle to differentiate themselves in their industry.

Your competitive advantage or core service needs to be abundantly clear within your organization and through all of your content, marketing, messaging, and direct conversations with leads and customers. This could be one or more areas where you could be pushing the envelope, such as:

  • Exceptional customer service that goes above and beyond
  • Personalized experiences with expert creatives and specialists working one-on-one with clients
  • Proven track record with results from past clients
  • Cutting-edge technology or innovative strategies

Whatever your agency’s differentiating factor may be, everyone within your organization needs to know exactly what it is. This sets the foundation for a business development plan with a growth trajectory, as it determines the primary messaging for lead generation and development strategies. It also helps to ensure that your sales and marketing teams have a unified approach that supports a growing business.

2. Customize Lead Gen for Yourself

The next step is all about action – you need to develop a game plan for lead generation to help your business grow. But your sales and marketing team will just be shooting in the dark unless they know exactly who their audience is.

Agencies take great pains to create customized and detailed lead generation strategies for their clients, but don’t make the same effort when it comes to themselves.

Deep dive into customer research and analysis so you can design strategies that will attract, nurture, and convert those leads. Avoid creating generalized overviews and get down to the nitty-gritty of the exact segments that qualify as a verified lead. You can use past customer data or competitor analysis here – just be sure that you create a crystal-clear image of your target audience.

Once you have this guideline, your sales and marketing teams should work together to develop strategies for lead generation and nurturing. If you want to spray a particular niche with industry-specific offers, go for it. If you think account-based marketing (ABM) works better for you, go for it.

lead generation process

Source: Strategic Sales & Marketing

Technology is crucial to ensure that all teams have the necessary resources and support for any and all lead generation strategies. For instance, here at RevBoss, we offer a managed lead gen service that involves building a sales pipeline, ABM, as well as automation and tracking through our own home-grown sales software for marketing agencies.

Since every agency has something different to offer its clients (as you’ve probably figured out in the previous section), every lead generation strategy is also unique. Your customer success team can build customized strategies based on industry data (or your own) to deliver results.

3. Religiously Track Your KPIs

If you have no benchmarks to compare your business development results to, you’ll end up in the same cycle as before, having no clue as to which strategies are working and which aren’t.

The same goes for when you are working with clients. You need to be able to clearly communicate metrics and prove your agency’s worth – show them exactly where they’re growing, how your company has helped, and where they’re headed.

And you must show them the path before you even embark on your journey.

First, you must clarify the internal metrics that will guide your scaling objectives. This may include:

  • Client profitability: What are the direct results of your work with each client? If profitability rates struggle to reach past 10% past the first or second quarter, the project or campaign may not be a good fit – or your team needs to try something new.
  • Project write-ups and billable services: You need to closely track the cost of each service you provide the client. How many hours does it take to complete common, defined tasks? What is the internal cost both in hours and money, compared to your charged rates in billable hours?
  • Maximum and minimum contract rates: Do you know exactly how much work (and what kind) you can take on based on your internal capabilities. This should influence – and also be determined by – your contracted rate. Knowing the minimum billing per quarter or year along with the maximum output for the same period will help your business grow far quicker.

External key performance indicators (KPIs) should also be closely monitored to determine how well and how quickly your agency is growing. Some metrics to keep an eye on include:

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) for each channel
  • Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) for PPC and digital ads
  • SEO performance (impressions, rankings, traffic)
  • Conversion rates for each marketing method (email, online advertising, referrals, etc.)
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

If you manage to tie together a set of metrics with a specific business or sales objective for your clients, you’d do better to put together to monitor these custom KPIs with a real-time dashboard.

Over to You

Whether you are a brand-new agency just starting out or you’ve realized that it’s time to make some changes, business development is an ongoing process that needs to be taken very seriously. And you need to see it through to the end –  there’s no point putting in place a lead generation program if you don’t go all out to convert leads.

Today, most small-to-medium digital agencies and consulting firms can’t afford to have their sales and marketing teams focus solely on lead generation. This can cause other strategies and even client work to suffer, making it difficult to reach growth objectives.

RevBoss helps fill the gap by supporting successful lead generation so your team can focus on closing deals, rather than hunting down prospects. We can work closely with multiple teams on your end to streamline your sales pipeline. This means that you’ll not just drive in more leads, but also qualified prospects that are more likely to convert.

Schedule a free consultation with us and discover how our innovative strategies can make a difference to your agency!