Give your agency sales teams some love
Being in agency sales is hard!
Digital, marketing, tech, and creative agencies with £1m+ turnover often pitch for complex work, which requires a multi-discipline pitch, involving multiple teams. Sales people must be relationship managers, project managers, industry and discipline specialists, storytelling experts...and the list goes on.
I have spoken to many sales teams over the years to understand how agencies can support them better. Sales people are often left to their own devices, having to juggle internal teams, client relationships, and pressure to meet targets.
Here are nine example actions sales teams wish their agency would put in place (there are many more, and I'd love to hear from you about how you support your sales teams)…
1. DELIVERY TEAM RESOURCE
Delivery team resource planning to incorporate and account for new business and pitch time
Teams to be empowered and encouraged to spend time on new business
Quick win: Ask sales teams to share pipeline data with delivery teams to improve pitch resource planning.
2. DELIVERY TEAM INCENTIVES
Delivery team bonus and incentive programmes to reward winning new work
Teams that happily contribute to new business, rather than regarding it as an inconvenience
Quick win: Allow a budget that encourages sales teams to reward internal teams e.g. with meals out to celebrate new wins
3. EMPOWERMENT TO PUSH BACK
Sales teams that are empowered to push back on prospects when timelines or requirements are unrealistic
Teams are encouraged to deliver high-quality proposals and pitches, rather than rushing them
Quick win: Work out how much time you typically need to deliver a high-quality pitch. Be transparent with prospects about required timelines.
4. PITCH PROJECT MANAGER
Admin support to enable sales person to focus on getting buy-in and creating a strong narrative for the pitch
For complex pitches, a project manager to ensure timely creation of pitch contents, chasing internal deadlines, booking rehearsals, scheduling meetings
Quick win: If you have a capable project manager in-house already, can they help out on large pitches?
5. CLEAR POSITIONING & NARRATIVE
Positioning & narrative clearly defined by the agency
Templates & collateral about the agency’s USP, values etc.
Training & guidance given to the sales team on how to communicate about the agency
Quick win: If your positioning and narrative aren’t clear, work with a specialist agency to nail this down (not a quick win, but absolutely essential to close deals)
6. ACCESS TO TEMPLATES & DESIGNERS
Sales teams aren’t expected to design collateral themselves
Access to bank of well-designed and reusable pitch templates
Access to designers to polish and co-brand sales decks
Quick win: Work with your sales team to list the most important sales collateral required, and design it for them. Can you work with an external designer?
7. OBJECTIVITY & IMPARTIALITY
An objective and impartial person is assigned to the pitch process to lend a second pair of eyes
An impartial person represents the client and provides feedback during pitch rehearsals
Quick win: Assign a board sponsor to key opportunities.
8. DELIVERY TEAM ACCOUNTABILITY & TRAINING
Client teams are held to account when missing deadlines
Level of pitch content QA provided by department lead
Delivery teams working on pitches are trained on presentation skills and best practice pitching
Quick win: Educate delivery teams on your pitch audiences, what they’re looking for in a pitch, and how to get buy-in from all stakeholders.
9. POST-PITCH FEEDBACK
An impartial person to collect post-pitch feedback
Someone to analyse and action pitch feedback
Someone to help sales teams action pitch feedback and make improvements to the pitch process
Sales teams that are encouraged to voice their needs provide feedback to internal teams
Quick win: Appoint an objective person and start collecting pitch feedback. You can finetune the process over time.
If time, budget, and resources were no object, how would you support your sales teams?