How to Grow Your Agency’s Client Roster [13 Sales Strategies]
I remember a professor of mine told me years ago in business school how sales and marketing teams often despise one another…
Each simply thinks that they reign supreme.
But I’m here to tell you that when trying to close a client for your agency, you must excel in both departments.
And if you run an agency, you need to sell your brand to potential clients.
But how do you do that?
Well, in this article you’ll:
- Familiarize yourself with 13 sales strategies proven to work that your agency can use.
- Understand how to leverage these strategies to grow your client roster.
- And learn how AutoGrow can actually help your agency manage your clients through an easy-to-use web app.
So, let’s dive right into the best sales strategies used by successful agencies. Here’s sales strategy #1…
#1 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Offer Discounts to Attract New Clients
Have you ever tried backing out of a subscription only to be met with an aggressive discount?
You know, something like “please stay with us and the next month will only be 50% off”.
It’s happened to you, right?
Well, that company doesn’t want to lose you as a client or as a customer and will do anything to keep you in its ecosystem.
But as annoying as it sounds, this strategy actually works.
You see, sometimes your agency might run into this situation with a client.
Or a client may completely avoid your agency’s service because the cost is simply too high for them.
(Don’t forget about the little guys here.)
One sales strategy that works is offering a client a discount.
Offering a discount entices the price-conscious client.
It reduces uncertainty.
As a result, they perceive your agency as a superior option.
For instance, UK marketing agency Effective Inbound Marketing tapped into a new market during last year’s pandemic with price reduction.
When COVID-19 turned our worlds upside down, this agency found a way to keep its clients and gain new ones—while marketing budgets were shrinking.
According to AP News, CEO Ayodeji Onibalusi knew that demand for online marketing agencies exploded because everyone was stuck at home. But at the same time, many small and medium-sized businesses were struggling to afford these services.
The company offered 50% off to clients selling cosmetic essentials and 75% off to clients selling critical products such as FDA approved drugs, masks, and gloves.
By helping out businesses the most in need, EIM was able to keep a growing client roster instead of turning them away. And this also helped build up good PR.
EIM remains an industry leader because of its ability to adapt and reach otherwise uninterested clients.
And now that you’ve read about this sales strategy used by this particular agency, think of how you can apply it in your own flavour.
For example, if a prospect isn’t nudging after your first three emails, offer a package discount on a fourth email.
Promotional tactics lead to higher conversion rates.
Ok, so now that you’ve learned about this first sales strategy for your agency, let’s jump to the next one.
#2 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Customize a Roadmap for Your Clients
Your clients look for agencies that can offer them a long-term solution to their marketing needs.
And a roadmap clearly shows your potential client that you are devoted to his or her business.
Take Element Three for example.
As one aspect to its list of sales strategies, a roadmap offering tells its clients exactly how they will achieve their goals.
Roadmaps examine their business model, target audience, sales process, and the technology used by the client. And a thorough examination allows Element Three to create a custom roadmap that perfectly suits their clients’ unique needs.
On one of their landing pages, there’s even an FAQ section and a quick video for clients to learn more about this service that caters to them.
In turn, the client feels valued when his or her questions are already answered. Again, it removes uncertainty and takes a step out of the sales process.
And it exemplifies the agency’s commitment to its clients.
As a result, the client trusts your brand more.
And a marketing roadmap is a nice touch in your sales strategy for your agency because it’s a personalized service.
Below is an example of a roadmap template you can use to model…
Alright, now that we’ve reviewed the first 2 sales strategies for your agency, let’s dive into the next one.
#3 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Make Referrals Your New Best Friend
We all know how big of a deal referrals are when it comes to both B2C and B2B sales funnels.
In fact, according to Influitive, 84% of B2B buyers start their buying process with a referral.
Because referrals are like the ultimate social proof. You find it not only in marketing and sales, but in your personal life too.
You see, you don’t go for a ride with some random person you’ve never met before, right?
But if your best friend tells you “Hey, he’s cool”, then you don’t think about it twice.
And the same thing happens with your agency. When it comes to growing your client roster, referrals are perhaps the most crucial of all sales strategies for agencies.
In fact, Wordstream has found that 55% of agencies report client referrals as its main source for acquiring new clients.
To put that in context, this means that referrals are over twice as effective in acquiring new clients than all your online advertising combined.
So, do everything in your power to get your clients to vouch for you. Without sounding too desperate, of course.
And how do you do this?—you may wonder.
Make it clear to your clients that your agency offers them a referral program.
For example, Digital Media Team has one of the best agency referral programs out there.
And it’s explained in an easy-to-read format too.
One of the menu tabs reads “Refer & Earn”. And once you click on it, it explains how they offer a 7.5% uncapped revenue per month for every business you refer them to.
There’s even an example that explains things more clearly.
If the friend you recommended does business with the Digital Media Team, you earn 7.5% of the agency’s monthly revenue from that project.
Another example is DropBox. They have possibly the most successful referral strategies ever.
In September of 2008, the company had 100k registered users.
15 months later, and they had 4 million.
That’s a 3,900% increase in a relatively short time span.
Now, we know that selling cloud storage is an entirely different ball game than trying to grow an agency client list. But take a look at its core fundamentals.
For starters, it’s part of their onboarding process. As soon as you register, they ask you if you want to refer a friend for an additional 16GB of space.
And as an agency, that might mean you could send an email early on to a new client that notifies them of your referral program.
A benefit of this could mean you extend the contract an extra month at no additional cost. It could mean a price reduction. But you can do whatever you want really.
Perhaps the best part of DropBox’s successful referral program is its simplicity to make the referral.
As soon as you sign up for DropBox, you’re presented with four easy methods to refer a friend.
Dropbox even allows you to import a contact list in bulk if you desire.
With these referral examples in mind, make sure your agency has a similar program. And be sure to make it as accessible to the client as possible.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to invent another sharing method.
Besides, a referral program should be considered an investment in your agency.
Successful sales strategies sometimes don’t have immediate payoffs. And actually, in the short run, you might lose a few bucks. But in the end, your clients will be happy and you will be too.
If you don’t have a social proof, learn how to ask for testimonials from clients as a start.
#4 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Don’t Sleep on Social Selling
Do you find that traditional sales strategies are not helping grow your agency’s client roster?
Well, you’re not alone.
Outbound B2B sales are not as effective as they once used to be.
Even if you got your leads, they likely won’t be responding too positively.
Social selling is a different take on sale strategies and it has seen great results. This is because social selling refers to using social media networks to sell products and services as opposed to general brand awareness.
It differs from social media marketing in that it usually involves a one-on-one form of communication.
Think of the LinkedIn recruiters that want to talk about their service offering…
Social selling will create a stronger bond between you and your client. You do extensive research on their business and you use digital messages to discuss your services.
Subsequently, your outreach is more personalized.
Bottom line is, all the data points towards social selling being a proven-to-convert sales strategy for agencies.
You see, according to LinkedIn, 75% of B2B buyers rely on social platforms to discuss buying decisions with colleagues.
In fact, in one survey by DemandBase , 53% of respondents stated that social selling played a major role in making a final purchasing decision.
Another example is LinkedIn Sales Solutions. They found that 78% of social sellers outperform their peers who don’t use social selling.
Clearly, social media can be used in your sales strategy to win over new agency clients too. And there are plenty of social media campaigns you can model as well as some social media sites for lead generation too.
Ok, let’s continue with the next strategy.
#5 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Ask the Right Questions to Your Clients
Imagine going to a car dealership and the salesperson doesn’t really engage with you.
No questions are asked about you and your needs.
You’d at least expect the salesperson to show some kind of concern for you, right? But no.
Zero rapport built.
If that sounds like an experience you’ve gone through, then you’re not alone. (That exact scenario happened to me a few months ago)
When trying to win over new clients, avoid acting like the lazy car salesperson.
Customers and clients shouldn’t be the ones that have to probe the other party with the right questions.
That’s not how sales strategies work for successful agencies like yours. Or else their client roster would never grow.
As Michael Zipursky of Consulting Success says, “Good, deep, thorough questions are a consultant’s best friends”.
So asking thoughtful questions shows your client that you actually care about his or her goals. It also tells them that you’re not looking to make a quick buck.
Now, here are some questions that clients will be eager to hear from you:
- Has everything been clear so far?
- What particular needs do you have at this time?
- Would these benefits be useful to you at all?
- How can we get you all set up?
- Are there any areas that take precedence over everything else?
- Is there a specific time table that you want to share with us?
Implementing a quality Q&A in your list of sales strategies for your agency also ties in nicely with exemplifying your empathy.
And emotional appeal is one of the best persuasion tactics known to man.
#6 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Build Case Studies to Social Proof Your Agency
“Without a doubt, the most effective piece of collateral for closing enterprise level sales is the case study” – Graham Onak, owner of digital marketing agency GainTap
Agencies that don’t have case studies will struggle to close deals with clients.
You see, case studies exemplify your agency’s past work and show your clients real-world results. Because at the end of the day, clients seek validation of your expertise.
That’s why according to Demand Gen, 73% of B2B companies are seeking out case studies specifically.
So if it’s not within your list of sales strategies to grow your agency’s client roster, then you are at a disadvantage.
And although case studies are similar to referrals in the way that they provide social proof to potential clients, the former goes much deeper.
By digging deep into all the KPIs you hit, your agency builds more credibility with your client.
For example, on your website you can design a graph that sums up the following for a past client:
- Monthly website traffic increase
- Sign-up form conversions
- Increase in leads generated
- Yearly revenue increase
Cardinal Digital Marketing actually makes it easy for clients to see the results they’ve made in the past with their case studies page.
For each client case study, they walk you through each step of the process. They define the problem, tell the reader what the solution was, provide in-depth details of the strategies used, and sum up the results.
So think about your most successful client success stories and if you can, track down the results.
Own your case studies with data-backed facts and showcase them. This will be your best social proof—along with testimonials and reviews of course (just like we have them on our website)…
So to sum up, if your agency has had clients in the past that function in the same industry as your current prospects, use it to your advantage.
It will be much tougher for them to say “no” when you have a good track record in their niche.
#7 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Include a Tiers of Service on Your Website
A lot of marketing agencies don’t bother listing a pricing section on their websites.
Rather, they believe in customized packages since “every client is different”.
While this is true, it still doesn’t hurt to lay things out for potential clients.
Now, think about it.
Imagine if a prospective client was reading AutoGrow’s case studies and loves what we have to offer.
But when they looked for a pricing plan, there was none.
Say that AutoGrow only had a generic “call us now” CTA on its website.
No table comparing its different plans.
We know that potential clients will be much more hesitant to do business with us.
They’ ll simply move on and find another company to do its marketing. One that makes it easy to see a service plan that works for them.
In other words, you’re being transparent.
Customers want to know what they’re getting into.
It also saves time answering questions during the communication process.
Clodagh Higgins is the digital agency director of Growit.
In his humble opinion, a good way to lay things out for the client is to
Customer avatars are almost like personas but go a little deeper. It factors in goals, values, professional aspirations, sources of information, pain points in the sales process, etc. It’s very in-depth.
Basically, you want to look at this client from as many angles as possible to get the full picture.
And reviewing your experience with past clients is a great starting point for creating the customer avatar.
So once you have your customer avatar, you can then create packages that this avatar would likely choose.
Penguin Strategies is a very successful advertising agency that makes use of the tiers of service. They’ve had numerous high-end Israeli clients such as Guard Knox and Percepto.
With the different tiers of service, clients can see how quickly they can expect to see results when investing X amount of cash.
And even though the agency still offers a customized package, it gives clients an idea of how much of an investment they would need to make. It simply gets them thinking. And it can get them to talk to you.
Tiers of service packages are also useful when you know what you’re good at. And what parts of digital marketing you might not enjoy so much.
So create packages based on what you like instead of just offering services that you hate. Make sure the prices reflect it too.
#8 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Back Up Your Sales Pitch With Data
If you’re open to supplementing the marketing efforts for in-house departments, then you better be prepared to show some hardcore numbers.
In a study carried out by Vennli, it was found that the most successful agencies did their homework.
70% of marketers expect agencies to use primary research in their sales pitch.
Moreover, 82% expect agencies to conduct competitive research as well.
When one in-house marketer was asked what the biggest mistake agencies make when making a pitch, he responded: “Not showing how they plan to back up their claims to increase revenue”.
You have to remember that clients you’re trying to win over have bosses too. And their bosses are materialistic people.
They don’t care about anything other than ROI when it comes to running their business.
So your primary research testifies determination and willingness to commit to your client.
And of the agencies who reportedly have win rates above 50%, 9/10 of them say they use primary research when conducting a sales pitch according to Vennli.
High-quality clients almost always end up partnering with agencies that value quantitative insights.
#9 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Flip the Script on Clients By Asking the Right Questions & Using the Challenger Sale
Nico Prins works for content marketing agency LaunchSpace
He’s been in the industry for a number of years and has plenty of experience trying to close deals with potential clients.
According to Mailshake, he’s closed deals with multinational corporations, Russell Group Universities, and numerous banks.
In his opinion, you absolutely must have a gamelan for your sales pitch. We’re not just talking about a roadmap either.
That should be a given…
He says that before your meeting or sales call, have your client:
- Fill out a questionnaire
- Provide access to to their CRM, if applicable
According to Mailshake, asking these 2 questions gives you a better understanding of the client’s particular needs and it flips the script.
Because usually, your clients are the ones asking all the questions. But your agency is the one who should be trying to impress your clients.
So by asking a couple of questions, you take control of the situation. Now, you are seeing if these clients are the right fit for your agency.
See how psychology works? There are plenty of psychology sales hacks to sell more and better.
So Prins goes on to also mention the importance of how you decide to word your sales pitch.
For instance, don’t say “For $2,000, I can do web design and email for you using NicePage and MailChimp”.
Instead, tell the client “Your ROI will be roughly $15,000 per month if you want to use our $2,000/month package”.
Lastly, Prins stresses the 80/20 rule. That is, spend 80% of the time listening to your prospective client and 20% of the time answering their questions.
Nobody likes a motor mouth.
Successful sales strategies always make the client/customer feel like the center of attention.
And another thing to consider is to make a habit of using visual aides in your sales strategies.
Did you know that most humans are visual learners?
Not only does Prins vouch for it, so too does Jason Parks, owner of Media Captain.
His agency sends prospective clients both online and offline forms of a brochure.
Brochures are a user-friendly form of communication. It allows potential clients to understand the agency’s plan more easily.
Presentation software such as PowerPoint are also tools to add into your sales strategy because they make it easier for clients to gauge your worthiness.
To illustrate, say that your prospect needs SEO services specifically. Send them a customized slideshow detailing your entire gameplan.
Use bullet points to discuss long-tail keywords and topic clusters that you want to focus on.
Use visual aides like graphs and charts too. A pie chart would sum up how much time you plan to spend on each strategy.
An ROI graph brings all your strategies to life in the form of monetary value.
Imagine you’re in the market for finding supplemental help at your own agency. In the selection process, I’d imagine you would want to get straight to the point.
An agency that visualizes the value of your investment will likely be a good candidate. They get that your time is precious and you’re looking for results, not a new friend.
#10 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Make Sure Your Homepage Includes User-Generated Content From Past Clients
Five-time entrepreneur and sales trainer Jennifer Martin says testimonials have always been the most effective sales closing strategy she’s used, according to CallBox.
Because as I’ve said before, nothing convinces your client better than a good old reputation.
So if a client doesn’t know you, how do you show them that you are worthy of their attention?
By providing more social proof on your website from happy clients.
For example, The Good Marketer features the brand logos of some of its top clients.
Doing so builds more credibility in the eyes of the client.
And it’s also what we do on our website…
Additionally, ask for testimonials from happy clients that are willing to share with everyone how awesome your agency is.
And if you don’t know how, here’s how to ask clients for a review.
And remember, reviews and testimonials are a form of user-generated content. And search engines LOVE user-generated content.
As a matter of fact, YotPo, an ecommerce marketing platform, did a study on how reviews on a company website can drastically alter your SEO performance.
What did they find?
In a 9-month span, site traffic for companies that started using online reviews increased by 45%.
This strategy assumes that you have built up some goodwill with clients in the past.
But if you’re a newer agency or if you haven’t been recommended, you should consider an ambassador program. That will incentivize clients to vouch for you.
#11 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Remove Client Hesitancy With a Free Offer
Agencies always deal with cautious clients. It’s only natural to be wary in high-stakes investment decisions.
Your job is to try and implement a form of reassurance in your sales strategies.
And if all your social proof hasn’t helped remove the skepticism from your potential client, then an enticing free offer definitely will.
Take Thrive as an example. They are a digital marketing agency that gets this.
By using a bright orange CTA button that reads “Get My Free Proposal”, clients can feel at ease with setting up services with Thrive.
Because it reduces buyer’s uncertainty since there is no high-stakes investment.
A free proposal gets the client talking about his or her needs and how Thrive can help them.
Rapport is established here (and you already know the sales rapport building tactics to turn leads into buyers) and Thrive can provide an offer to their clients based on unique service requirements.
Just look at the perfect use of color to highlight the free proposal.
#12 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Save Time & Resources By Focusing on the Right Clients for Your Agency And Cutting Down the Sales Process
It would be great to be able to offer services to everyone. But the reality is, it’s not possible.
Sometimes, you are the one who ought to be rejecting the client instead of the other way around.
Carol Martindale knows a thing or two about the client closing process.
She’s head of Global Partnerships & Operations at Leadfeeder.
According to her, one way to really weed out the bad prospective clients is by giving them a little bit of “homework”.
You might want to extract a little more information about your prospects.
So using your CRM, have them read a case study, fill out a short questionnaire, a checklist, or some kind of qualitative feedback.
Once you see the client has completed your “test”, then you know he or she is the real deal 👌.
As for the clients that don’t bother getting back, they are likely lost causes.
That’s why it’s always important to follow strategies for qualifying leads and weed out the ones who aren’t a fit for your services.
So to narrow down the stages of the sales cycle, you should definitely have a Frequently Asked Questions section on your website.
Take a look at our FAQ section on our website…
We cover every single question our potential clients may have about our service.
So instead of wasting time telling a prospective client what kind of CRM tools your agency uses, the information will already be known because it will be right there on your website 🥤.
Clodagh also stresses that successful sales strategies always have an accompanying template to serve as the central hub of the process.
That means everything from your “Thank You” email to a sales deck are based on a proposal template. Each template is tailor-made for your prospective client since client personas are used to create each one.
Think of how much more time you’ll have saved in your sales strategy when you weed out the uninterested clients.
Better yet, now you have a game all ready to go for each stage of the sales closing process.
On the flip side, don’t get discouraged too easily.
As you can see above, clients for an investment agency take a bit of time to close.
A close after a week is definitely possible but you’re likely going to need a little more patience.
If the potential client doesn’t respond to your first email, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s a dead end.
In fact, did you know that only 44% of salespeople admit defeat after just one call according to IRC Sales Solutions.
It’s especially jarring since 80% of sales conversions occur on a fifth call.
The idea here is that you can’t throw in the towel after a couple points of contact with a potential client. All the best agencies simply stay aggressive in their approach.
Using these 2 statistics, it’s obvious that successful sales strategies should follow a clear format. So have specific key points to bring up during each call.
Maybe on your first call, it’s more of a meet and greet.
Perhaps the second one discusses what the client has done in the past.
And by the time you get to the fifth call, you are discussing service packages and pricing.
And lastly, a follow-up schedule can also be used in email automation too. Because a call schedule reinforces the importance of building a proven-to-convert template to be obliged by.
#13 Sales Strategy for Agencies: Find a Way to Differentiate Yourself From the Competition
It goes without saying that if your agency can offer clients something that other agencies can’t, then you have a huge leg up.
And that’s exactly what WordStream did back in the day.
“WordStream is one of the world’s largest online advertising agencies, and one key way we were able to do this was by offering something new and differentiated” – Larry Kim, CEO and Founder of MobileMonkey
Back when Google Ads wasn’t that prevalent, WordStream was there to support it.
They did the same with Facebook ads.
By offering services that most other agencies couldn’t, WordStream was able to grow its client roster. It was simple supply and demand.
It doesn’t have to be something revolutionary either.
Whereas virtually all agencies have the same generic services listed on their website, Avalaunch Media differentiates itself by offering presentation services.
For example, for an exec that routinely has investor calls, Avalaunch will be a better agency to work with than most others. Their sales strategy includes pitching a unique service that is simply in demand.
Modicum is another successful agency that uses this sales strategy (differentiating yourself from the competition).
By offering pitch decks and sales presentations, Modicum possesses a great propositional value to prospective clients. Especially Fortune 500 companies.
So when thinking about it today, how can your agency stand out?
Have you thought of any innovative ways to reach out to customers?
Nothing is off the table.
Always keeping an open mind to the trends you read about is not a bad idea. Don’t scoff at seemingly worthless ideas.
As technology continues to evolve, so too will the ways in which we market to customers. There will be opportunities to get in on the hype train for new and exciting sales strategies.
That’s the time to really understand how the future may hold. It will take a bit off gut instinct in addition to extensive insights.
Treat it like an investor would when trading stock.
Be bold and don’t be afraid to fail. Simply find a way to differentiate your agency from the competition.
From free promotional offers to differentiation, all the most successful agencies have proven-to-convert tactics and strategies to close deals with clients. And without them, you’re simply winging it and hoping for the best.
With this article, you have a resource to build upon. Now, you’re now equipped with 13 of the best sales strategies that will help grow your agency’s client roster. 💪
Whether it’s copywriting, design, project management, web development, or anything in between, we got you covered. And all through an easy-to-use web app. You just simply delegate which marketing projects you want us to work on, and we do it right away.
Because as demand for digital marketing operations continues to grow, some agencies are struggling to keep up. And if you’re agency is struggling to keep up with your client demand, just reach out to us,
That way, you can focus more on growing your client roster without worrying about capacity bottlenecks.
Nothing is stopping you from using these sales strategies too and becoming the agency juggernaut that we all know you are.
Now tell me something, which of these strategies have you already been using?
Are there any that helped close a sale?
Let me know in the comments below.
Keep AutoGrowin’, stay focused.