The right tool for the job is as accurate today as it ever was. However, what is the right tool for ad agency business development – today? Your process should determine what tools are best, and business development processes vary by agency and by the person. There are tools up and down the price and feature spectrum, and every one of them has advantages. How you work and what features you will utilize, and of course budget, will narrow the list down significantly.
I am always exploring the next best tools to find time-savers, performance enhancers, results boosters; you name it. I’ve also experienced the opposite effect by signing up for too many tools leaving little time for the essential tasks of the day. There is a balance between too many and too few, and I think I’ve found it. I have three that are my go-to tools every day; a marketing automation platform, a prospect intelligence resource, and LinkedIn. There are others that I use on occasion, but these three are always open in my browser.
Marketing Automation Platform
When it comes to marketing automation, I’ve used Salesforce, HubSpot, Act, Marketo, Pardot, and others, and demoed even more. Each has their unique features and workflow, as well as price tag, from free to a mortgage payment. Of all the ones I’ve used I prefer SharpSpring, and I use it every day for my business and all my clients. SharpSpring is a robust marketing automation platform designed explicitly for ad agency business development. Because it was designed with me in mind, it is the easiest to learn, setup, and use, and feels like a natural extension of my work style. That doesn’t mean it is right for you, but I would recommend you check it out. If you’d like to hear more about why I use it, I’d be happy to share my reasons. While you're doing your research, check out how SharpSpring compares to other marketing automation alternatives.
I’ve seen statistics that say almost 65% of these systems fail to gain adoption or usage. For an industry that continues to grow and expand that is a pretty alarming number, but believe it is true. I’ve talked to marketing executives about their MarTech stack, and many have expressed frustrations about platforms that have powerful features but go mostly unused by their team. I’ve talked to agency leaders who share the same sentiment. They have subscribed to Salesforce, and there BD people never get past the contact database. That is a lot of wasted money. For a system to be successful, it has to be easy, intuitive, and fit into the user’s workflow behaviors or it will fail. I don’t know what SharpSpring’s adoption rate is but I will bet, because of the system it is much better than most.
There are a couple of prospect databases on the market, and I’ve used most. My experience and success have proven over the years that there is really only one worth investing in and that is Winmo, formerly known as TheList. If you haven’t tried Winmo recently, you are in for a treat. It gets even better. Recently Winmo acquired the database Access Confidential, the second-best database, and Redbooks making them unrivaled in ad agency sales intelligence. Honestly, I wouldn’t waste time with any other. Granted, no one provider has every single lead, but Winmo’s database has more key decision-makers, more insights about opportunities, timelines, and executive changes than the others, and they make sure I know when to pitch, whom to talk to, and what to say to win more often.
When developing or enhancing prospect lists, I go to Winmo first to find the companies, brands, and people that fit my criteria. There are times when they don’t have a company I’m looking for but not very often. When I’m not building lists, Winmo sends me daily reports first thing every morning about essential activities among my companies and prospects that may signal a pending need, a reason to connect, or a future opportunity to put on my prospect timeline. The platform includes many other features I haven’t mention and suggest you take advantage of their free trial to see everything they offer. If you don’t have access, you are stepping into the Octagon with both hands tied behind your back. Let’s schedule a call, and I’ll tell you how I use it.
My other essential tool is LinkedIn. Let’s connect, and you’ll have access to my network to see how powerful a tool it is when you grow your connections. While it is true that not everyone is a member of LinkedIn, and many are not active members, no other resource allows you to discover over 95% of the people out there across all industries, geographies, functions, and titles. Tapping into its full potential requires you to grow your network of connections. I’ve got over 5,000, and that opens up visibility to more than 5.6 million members. I have yet not to find a prospect when I go hunting. Read this article on LinkedIn searching, especially the Boolean search functions.
In addition to finding prospects, LinkedIn is a rich resource for gathering information about prospects, industries, and brands. Moreover, it is the best channel to reach prospects with free content like your posts and paid advertising. No other network comes close to the audience on LinkedIn, especially the audience of marketing decision makers you go after. Of course, smartly leveraging this vast resource is the key. There are countless strategies, techniques, and LinkedIn hacks you can find through a quick Google search. Just remember to continue to grow your connections. Every connection you add opens up more and more possibilities.
There are other tools I like or have tried, but either isn’t worth the cost, duplicate the intelligence I already have, or are too hard to use. I have bookmarked a few others because they are free and offer other data that I find helpful and will gladly share if interested. Of all the tasks in my business development process, research is the most important. Compiling my list of companies and prospects, understanding their challenges and the cycles of their industry and market, uncovering the personalities, experiences, and behaviors of specific prospects all make it easier to engage and articulate your value proposition, and open the door more often and with better results.
I’d enjoy talking to you about the tools I use to get more clients today and better clients tomorrow. I’m always open to a conversation regardless of your needs. If you like this post, click the thumbs up, so I’ll know and then sign up for my new business newsletter. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn so we can both grow our networks. #LetsGrow!