One for the agencies this……
New business meetings – you always need them if you want to grow, in fact if you want to survive. But they’re hard to get. Budget-holders are busy. You’re competing against dozens, hundreds, thousands of other agencies, and let’s face it no one enjoys picking up the phone to call someone they don’t know.
Most agencies respond in one of three ways to this:
1) Rely on referrals, networking, and cross-selling for as long as they possibly can, until they realise – often too late – that this source isn’t going to support them forever.
2) Hire an in-house person to make calls, set meetings and possibly attend introductory meetings. How well this works depends on the ability of the person hired, and this can vary. Even the most talented and experienced tend to struggle because few of their colleagues understand their job and they quickly become isolated and demotivated. I’ve seen it happen time after time.
3) Outsource meeting setting to a specialist agency. There are many very bad telemarketing and new business agencies, and plenty of companies get their fingers burned. However, there are some that are good (if you want a recommendation for one I’d be happy to provide you with one). The problem is that they’re expensive. Their fees start at around £2,000 per month – if you’re paying any less you’re almost certainly throwing your money away – and few small agencies can afford that.
I believe there is a fourth option for those agencies with up to ten people: get your existing team to do the calling. Set aside one, two, three or four hours a week when everyone is on the phone trying to arrange meetings for the MD to attend. This is cheaper than hiring an agency, more effective and cheaper than hiring an in-house person, and best of all it produces a regular stream of new business opportunities for your agency.
Wondering how you’ll persuade your staff to take on this extra work?
Well, firstly you should point out that they have a vested interest in the future of this agency. They will also be able to influence the direction of the agency – they can call companies they want to work for. And you will probably have to give them a financial incentive. This could be dinner for two in a top restaurant for whoever sets the most meetings that week or it could be a direct payment for each meeting set. Whatever it is, it will be cheaper than hiring an agency or in-house person.
So, what do you need to do to make this happen?
Firstly, get the buy-in of your team as above.
Secondly, develop a list of target companies. You might need to spend a small amount of money on this and supplement it with some telephone research by your office junior.
Thirdly, train your staff on how to make these calls. I have spent many years setting new business meetings for PR agencies, and then training and managing a team of people who did it. I now offer a training course that will give your team the skills, knowledge and confidence to help you grow your business.
For more details see here: http://www.alex-blyth.co.uk/training_details.php?id=16