Take Control of Your Agency’s Bottom Line | Build Your Agency Webinar SeriesItamar Gero
Build Your Agency
In Take Control of Your Agency’s Bottom Line, Itamar and Bernard share how talent dependency affects your agency’s scalability and discuss how to avoid the pitfalls of being talent-dependent. They also dive into the importance of making your agency process-driven, identifying your negotiable costs, and calculating your profit margin using our ROI calculator. Finally, they talk about how agency owners should not be heroes – but how they should work on their business, not in it.
Key Takeaways —
12:21 – Allow processes—not your rockstar employees—to deliver results.
13:04 – Make sure your clients are emotionally invested in your brand and agency, not to a specific talent.
16:11 – Focus on the most important things first, and make sure they’re a part of a checklist.
19:20 – To predict and manage your costs, identify what is: your cost to sell, cost to retain clients, your cost of goods and services, and your overhead expenses.
1) How long would you expect the training process to take to get a sales employee on board and what should I expect to pay them?
“When the sales employee has experience, our experience is a 30-day training here just so that they can get familiar with the process and how how you run conversations with your brand. Seems to be sufficient when you’re dealing with experienced salespeople. When you’re not dealing with experienced salespeople, for us, when we talk about minimum viable talent it takes us one to two quarters to groom them into that condition so what we do is we make sure that there’s always somebody going through a training program that can eventually graduate into that sales role….” Listen to the rest of the answer at 49:00
2) Do you have advice on building repeatable sales processes?
“Bernard is our sales processes guy! First things first is, write down the prescription of your sales process and then be the easiest way to implement. This is a call checklist — make your staff follow a checklist of what they need to have addressed on the call so then that they’re not winging their conversations and you know that they’re giving 50 percent time, that they’re asking the right questions, that clients feel like they’re listened to and then teach them how to do the pitches correctly….” More information at 50:30
3) For salesman what is industry standard? Salary + Commission? Commission only? Salary only?
“This is also on a case-to-case basis. There’s a lot of sales-related questions, I think we should do a Webinar about Sales! But I think we should be bringing people on board because I think every geolocation, every type of product, every company would do it differently…We have partners that salary-out there their sales people at the base permissible in their state, but they give them running commission so that’s one example of how they formulate….” Rest of the answer at 54:16
4) What type of resources other than processes and pitch decks are we responsible for when hiring salesman?
“Pre-hiring a salesman I think it’s really a numbers game. They need to know what they’re getting into. They need to know when they’re successful and when they’re not and it starts with you assuming the numbers or asking for advice. It depends on your geolocation of how much you should expect in revenue from that salesperson and you don’t want to overextend meaning fall in love with your card thinking next month that’s the month when they’re going to start producing. If you don’t have a clear cut, then it’s really a budgeting game. Also, for me the goals are super important…..” Continued at 55:26
Since we had to wrap up our webinar in one hour, we didn’t get to answer all of your questions, and of course, we couldn’t have that! So if you had a question that wasn’t answered live, find your answers below:
Q: Do you have better or same results for hiring salesman locally as opposed to telecommuting?
A: It depends on the nature of your business and at what stage of the life cycle. Remember, it’s all about the processes and not just about the talent. As long as the processes are refined to a point that are repeatable to yield the same quality of work, you could have the same results whether they’re local or telecommuting.
In most cases, hiring locally can cost more than hiring a telecommuting salesman, but there are benefits to having that local knowledge as well when it comes to building rapport. In our experience, we’ve had better results with hiring and training locally, and combining that with telecommuting employees but that’s only us. We strive on the combination rather than the “either or”. Just make sure your employees truly embodies and represents your brand and its values.
If you think that’s possible via telecommuting, go for it! If you think local is the way to go to ensure your salesperson is equipped well, then we’d recommend that. The main goal is to ensure your salesperson is empowered with the right materials and processes they need to help you grow your business.
Q: Would salesman responsibility be responsible for the entire sales process from cold to close?
A: Not necessarily. This could be a combined effort of your Marketing & Sales team. Your Marketing team can help bring in the cold leads, which your Sales team can then work on closing.
Remember, your team composition is part of the winning strategy of growing your business, so when you’re salesman is responsible for being the star quarterback, wing receiver and running back all in one – you can bet that a team of three – though less skilled than them when compared individually, will far outperform that rockstar salesman who can do everything.
What your salesman should be responsible for is grooming that relationship and maintaining a high level of rapport. There is opportunity to improve the processes every step of the way. From research of cold niches to gathering leads, service fulfilment and report generation, these are all tasks that can be assigned outside of your salesman and tied to a process that anyone can do. Keep your salesperson nimble and their path clear to keep gaining traction on new sales. Remove them from being responsible for performing what can be automated or outsourced, but keep them informed, and keep them focused on building new campaigns with new clients.
Q: I am starting my Agency business on Nov 1. Do you advice that I work alone to acquire first few clients before hiring or I should start out with hired sales guys?
A: Congratulations and welcome to the fold! First recommendations is leverage your existing network to help you close your first few clients. Understand what you are capable of managing, and what you need help with.
Cold sales is not for everyone and that is a challenge for most who are just starting so leverage those connections you have, to help you gain your first 3-4 clients before looking for an account manager to help you manage the accounts.
Once you’ve ironed out your processes for selling in your agency, that is when you have the capacity to hire a capable salesperson who you can train because you have the right processes defined, support they need to help them build trust and rapport, and materials they need to grow your business for you.
Q: What tips do you have if you currently still have a full time job and are building your agency on the side in order to transition to running the agency full time? P.S i work 16 hours a day between both.
A: There are amazing agency partners of ours doing exactly just this, with the goal to end up transitioning 100% to be growing their own agency business. Our absolute stoics when it comes to building your agency while you have a full time job is to plan out what the financials will look like before making any rash decisions.
Determine what your average lifetime value of a customer is and have those conversations that you need to have with yourself before starting your transition. Once you know how much a client is worth over X time, you can identify at what point will you be able to not just afford to hire an account manager to help your agency grow, but also know when hiring an account manager becomes profitable for your agency.
We recommend 4-5 clients as a foundation for your agency before needing to hire an account manager. And even with 4-5 clients, you won’t necessarily need to leave your full time job yet. The role of the account manager is to help you clear time so you can gain new clients, while they care for your existing clients. The work itself to a degree can be outsourced, so if you’re selling SEO for instance, setting up Google Tag Manager, Analytics, Google My Business, and managing link building, citation building, business listings are all things that can be outsourced affordably.
Q: How do you, as a company, address these two things with your Agency Partners: 1) Make it easy to try / buy (reduce risk & friction), and 2) eliminate up-front costs / risks for new Agency Partners so that no costs are incurred until actual project revenue covers the costs. Basically, your Agency Partners are your “feet on the street”, so it would seem that you want to make it easy and affordable (no-brainer) to say “yes” to work with you.
A: Great question, and I love answering this! Our Agency Partners are vetted through our Project Managers through our kickstart calls to make sure we’re a complementary solution for one another, just like any other partnership. This initial discovery conversation that we have is there to help determine the success of one another, and for the most part, it’s seeing how scalable your agency is – and where our marketing operations expertise fits in. It’s our Project Managers’ job to know more about your agency than you.
Once we’ve agreed that we’re a good fit, it’s as scalable as it comes. To answer the first part of your question – to make it easy to try/buy, the simplest solution we have with our Agency Partners is to follow how we set expectations with the packages that we’ve built to be reseller friendly. Our processes are fortified and perpetually evolving and our project managers are motivated to keep campaigns running. As mentioned earlier, it’s our project managers’ job to understand more about your agency than you, and that takes time. The risk only exists when expectations aren’t being communicated, so we smooth out the conversation about how you set the expectations before starting any new campaign with new partners.
To address the second part of your question about eliminating up-front costs / risks for new projects, that’s quite simple for us as well. Our operational cycles start on the 1st and 15th of the month, which gives you plenty of opportunity to set the same cycles with your clients, and claim payment ahead of time. To minimize the up-front costs, it’s a case of pay-to-play. If your client is expecting work to be completed, then the same follows through with payment to be made before work starts.
Our Agency Partners are exactly that, our partners who run their own agency. To say it’s easy and affordable to work with us is what most agencies will believe when they first start working with us, it’s not uncommon given the industry that we’re in. But once our partners have been with us for a while and we’ve had the time to educate one another on our businesses, the most common thing we hear is that it’s predictable, consistent and essential to work together.