Why risk using a new business agency when I can do it myself? 

by rob

Before I give you any opinion about this subject, let me shed some light on what we actually do, so you can read this with some context. Alchemis is in the business of generating new business. We work with a wide range of clients that would broadly be categorised within the marketing services industry, but this can be very far reaching. For example, a video production company is poles apart from a company that does shop fit-outs for retail chains (and whilst we say “we mainly work with agencies”, neither of the above are likely to consider themselves “agencies” as such). Likewise, a crisis management PR agency wouldn’t usually be thought of in the same space as a PPC agency. However, what all of our clients have in common is they ultimately target other businesses with a high value offer to expand or manage their brand image and ambitions in some way, shape or form… and it is our job to work the necessary magic to spark these relationships.

So, back to the subject…

A lot of agency owners will have a certain amount of trepidation when it comes to using a new business agency to help drive their growth. This may certainly be the case with agencies that have gained a fair bit of traction on their own – they have grown their business from scratch so far, why get anyone else involved? 

We have written previous articles alluding to how handing over your business development process to a third party can feel like handing your baby over to a childminder. How do you know it is safe if you are not looking over it 24/7? 

Frankly, having worked within the industry myself for three decades, you would be right to be slightly concerned. 

I am bombarded relentlessly with offers that I would seemingly be mad to ignore, guaranteeing me the moon on a stick or, failing that, an instant ROI at the very least. 

The trouble is, most of these approaches have been so badly written or targeted that they are immediately binned. The fact that they are offering to do our own day job for us (albeit we would definitely do it more professionally) is a red flag for a start. A two second glance at our website would tell them this. 

However, there certainly are some decent and reputable specialist new business agencies out there. And the good ones can add a lot of value to their clients. 

Here are some of the typical concerns an agency owner may have when considering whether an outsourced approach would work for them. 

Cost: Hiring a new business agency often comes with a significant cost. Their services can be expensive, especially for startups or smaller agencies with limited budgets. 

The flip side of this is that they may offer an element of flexibility which limits the risk of your investment. For example, a pilot project of three or four months would allow you to gauge the sort of potential that a longer-term campaign may bring before you commit to it. This should be enough time for the agency to set 8 or 9 good meetings with decision makers who would be in the right sector, have a sufficient budget and a genuine reason/interest to meet you. That may not sound like a lot, but the emphasis of a good new business agency will be about meeting quality. Sure, an agency could set you way more shorter “appointments” with a load of junior people across any number of companies, but that will be time intensive for you and, given the likely budgets you are hoping to attract from a potential client, is less likely to generate a significant return on investment. 

As an agency owner, your time is precious. If you can outsource the grinding process of finding the right people at the right companies at the right time, that will present you with an opportunity to win their business whilst saving you a heap of your own time. It will allow you to actually focus on preparing for these meetings, rather than the chore of finding the suitable ones in the first place! 

Confidentiality Concerns: You may be worried about divulging sensitive business information to an external agency or the possibility of data breaches or leaks.  

Reputable new business agencies will be happy to sign an NDA – it is fairly common practice. They are also likely to have Professional Indemnity Insurance (you can always ask for proof to put your mind at ease). In terms of data breaches or leaks, a decent new business agency is more likely to have better safeguards in place than a lot of their clients. After all, dealing with a large amount of b2b data across a wide ranging client base will be a significant part of their day job. This data should be ringfenced, to protect information specific to each separate client campaign, and it should be GDPR compliant. If you are going to trust a new business agency to run a campaign for you, it is always a good idea to visit their office, see the set up for yourself and ask them to demonstrate the systems they have in place. 

How Will They Understand My Business? You may be concerned that an outsourced new business agency may not fully understand the intricacies of your business, industry, or target market as well as an in-house team might. If that was the case it could result in strategies that are not as tailored or effective. 

Communication is absolutely key here. A good new business agency really will act as an invisible extension of your own team. When they approach prospects on your behalf, they will be doing it exactly as if calling from your agency, not as a third party. 

Prior to any outbound activity by a new business agency, you would have likely spent at least a couple of hours with them in person going through your process, your strengths, your points of difference, etc. Then, if you are using a good new business agency, they would have produced a campaign plan outlining exactly what they will do for you, who they will be targeting, how they will be doing it. This campaign plan is for you to check that your Account Manager at the new business agency has fully understood your offer. On top of this there should be regular contact with the Account Manager – probably weekly or fortnightly catch up calls to discuss progress, targeting and any tweaks to the approach that might be beneficial.  

Finally there should be regular, fully documented reports from your new business agency outlining all activity, transcripts of conversations with prospects, any suggestions from their end to maximise results, etc. 

At a professional new business agency the Account Directors, who ultimately oversee each client campaign, may well have decades of experience across a vast range of marketing disciplines and industry sectors. Their guidance may be just as useful for you (on a wider scale) as yours is to them when it comes to the specifics of your own business. 

If you have all these components in place then there should be no barrier to your new business agency successfully conveying your offer to your target market. 

New business agencies typically handle multiple clients simultaneously. This could result in my business not receiving the level of attention or focus it deserves. 

It’s true that for a new business agency to be profitable, it will need to be servicing multiple clients simultaneously. However, there should be systems in place to manage this efficiently. 

For example, if an Account Manager at the new business agency has four separate clients, you should expect that: 

None of those clients will have competing offers (i.e none of their clients will be targeting the same type of prospects at the same type of companies and therefore there will be no conflict of interest or overlap). 

The Account Manager will be incentivised to deliver to all of their clients, not just the “easy” ones. One way of doing this is that the new business agency may pay bonuses to the Account Manager based on the feedback of each client for the meetings they have attended. If a meeting doesn’t hit specific quality criteria, the Account Manager does not receive a bonus.  

Likewise, if the Account Manager has not hit the agreed activity and deliverables target for each of their clients, there will be various interventions and additional support provided to ensure this is achieved. Ultimately, you are paying a new business agency for time and activity, but the process should result in genuine opportunities. If it didn’t, the new business agency would soon get a bad reputation and struggle to attract new clients of its own (or retain existing ones). 

Long-term Sustainability: While an agency might provide short-term boosts in acquiring new business, building in-house capabilities ensures long-term sustainability. 

All business models are slightly different. However, having worked with our own longest client for 20 years, there is no barrier to sustainability when it comes to using a good new business agency. In most cases, we work alongside existing in-house teams as our clients grow their business anyway. One great advantage in doing this is that our clients can scale up (or down) activity as and when required in order to achieve their business goals without the disruption of constantly hiring (or firing) their own staff. This offers great flexibility to meet their needs. 

So, in summary… If you have ever considered using a new business agency but have been put off by doubts such as those outlined above, it may just be worth speaking to a few of them. There are some good ones out there and with a bit of due diligence, along with obtaining some relevant references from their own clients, it may just be the start of a beautiful, profitable relationship!