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News & Views from Alchemis

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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or Email Jim Piper or David Newman

Don’t waste your hard earned money on the wrong new business consultant


I’ve already written this year about how the UK creative industry continues to grow in importance within the economy. Agencies are forming all the time and of course, the on-going digital revolution has given rise to a new industry/industries within the agency world.

However, I have a great concern about the advice that some agencies receive about developing new business and the partners (both individuals and companies) they are using to help the, build their agency.

There is a lot of bad press about “cold-calling” (really the agency world should stop calling it that!) and intermediaries, such as the AAR.

I recently read an article that said:

“Picking up the phone and cold calling may sometimes get you through to the right person at the right time when they are looking for an agency, if you’re lucky”. Of course on a “cold call” that would be lucky (although it does happen more often than you think), but once you have spoken to someone and ascertained their situation, goals, requirements and established a follow up process that everyone is comfortable with, then they are no longer a cold prospect. There is a relationship, human contact has been made and information has been gleaned. Can you say the same of emails, content or social marketing? Categorically no!

  • Yes there are bad telephone sales people out there that sound like cold callers and they will be found out quickly
  • Yes, marketing decision makers will say in any survey that they dislike the interruption of a call, but if done politely, professionally and the call is focused on providing potential help and guidance, then you may get a different answer

The problem faced by a lot of agencies is the plethora of often mixed messages surrounding new business. Actually it is simple.

– Identify the right profile of businesses your agency wants to work with, deselecting those that are unlikely to want to work with you

– Generate a quality lead and make sure you have the resource and process in place to nurture it effectively.

– Understand quickly which prospects you have engaged with that could and would use you and focus on them.

Unfortunately, there are many badly qualified consultants out there offering poor and sometimes detrimental advice to agencies. Often, they are quick to dismiss telemarketing as part of the mix, but why? We hear with concerning frequency of individuals, agencies or consultants coming into businesses, talking very eloquently and compellingly, but delivering absolutely nothing. Ultimately the agency parts company with them after an expensive experience and more importantly any new business has been stalled. For example, we recently heard of a “strategic” consultant, who came in, dismissed cold calling, and in 3 months delivered “absolutely nothing and told me nothing I did not already know”

As controversial as it is, my guess and in fact my understanding from our clients is these consultants have set up a lifestyle business and doing anything but actually working hard. They’ll work “at home” or “off-site”. They have no real vested interest in your business. Often their CVs will be chequered with jobs for a few months here and there and that is always a warning sign.

To a degree this is good for companies like Alchemis as we deliver quantifiable results. We have expectations and KPIs. We don’t always get it 100% right, but we bust a gut to deliver and most of the time we do. It is through hard work, dedication and a skill that most people don’t have and as a result are quick to dismiss. We are experts at having intelligent conversations with marketing decision makers and that is not something that most people are good at or want to do. It is often easier to talk “strategy” than actually action anything.

We are not suggesting that phone calls are the be all and end all. Content, social, email etc. all have merit and should be used, but if you genuinely think that your agency will stand out amongst the noise without proactive prospecting, then you may as well pack up and go home as it won’t.

In this world you need to make things happen. You could wait for 3-4 months for a consultant to come in, critique a proposition, give you some basic activities to undertake and deliver that in a lovely presentation, which tells you what you already knew, or you could go out there and find some clients.

The better news is that there are some fantastic consultants out there and many work for agencies we work with. They are forward thinking, understand the sales process and see the whole picture. Where their strength really lies is in generating a culture of new business within an agency. They can play to people’s skills and organise a new business team to make all parts of the machine work smoothly.

If you feel you need help to develop sales leads and appointments into conversions, please talk to us as we have a number of sales consultants we would recommend.

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