Hello there, ad agency new business maven. Last week, you might have read about the pros and cons of an outsourced commission-based prospector. Despite these cons, you may feel as though this is something you may want to add to your new business efforts. So, here are some thoughts on how to actually make something like this work.
For the record, the idea – as previously defined – goes something like this. “You, agency outsider. Yeah, you. Give us a lead that turns into business, and we’ll pay you when we win.” You are being spared the rant. Instead, let’s explore some ways to make this kind of program more efficient and effective:
1. Get rid of the idea of paying for the business
What?! Work with me here. You may not actually need to pay for the leads. Money complicates things. Fact is, some billable professions pay for referrals. Others don’t. Hundreds of words could be written about all the ethical and moral implications here. Generally speaking, in the agency business, it is a professional courtesy to share a lead should hear of something that’s not good for your firm. But that’s just one type of person you might have in the program. And while we’re on that subject…
2. Avoid the people who do this for a living
The people that make connections for a living or who are outsourced new business professionals that generate leads are the wrong kinds of people you want in the program. They will expect to be paid (with good reason). There are plenty of variations of models and middlemen. There is always be a catch if this is their business.
You’re looking for people that will be in a position to know potential clients or hear of something that can lead to a review. This could include other professional service providers, media professionals, agency suppliers, well-connected friends, former employees, and more. Look at your own transom – the unexpected calls you get – you will find a referral or six from someone who fits this bill.
3. Make these people feel special and valued
Beyond keeping them in touch about agency goings-on, I’m talking about doing something smart, nice and cool for these people. “Crawl” versions of this could be pizza and beer every quarter. “Walk” and “run” versions could be corporate retreats; high-end experiences; access to your rolodex; free agency strategic work; etc. You get the idea.
4. Rebrand the program
We went away from commission-based in the first thought. Consider calling it a “Friends” or an “Advisory Group” or something like that. Those titles alone can have very different connotations, right?
So, without paying for the lead, isn’t this just a fancy referral program? Absolutely. You could argue this post is actually mis-labeled. But I was on a roll. And gotta hop.
Of course, and this should probably go without saying, this should be just ONE of the strategies in your prospecting plan. Should you need help with any of that kinda thing, I encourage you to give Thunderclap a call. They’re very nice. I understand most people who hire them hire them again or refer them to someone else.
Or, explore this site. There are well over 200 posts related to ad agency new business prospecting and closing. Enjoy!