Referral business is great, in that you generally have a client that has used your services and is happy with your work. They refer a colleague or someone within their industry to your business because of the great job that you’ve done.

Is it wise though to put too much emphasis on referral business only or do you need to spend time reaching out to find prospects as new clients for your agency?

A combination of both is a sound strategy for new business that can be implemented in a phased approach that can achieve optimal business goals. 

As a director of business development for over 10 years working directly for marketing, web development and design agencies, we of course had our share of referral business which was relied upon fairly heavily in the early stages of the organizations. Most of the business development work was being done by the CEO of the company before they hired me. As the companies grew, they were running out of the time needed to effectively acquire new clients. 

Everyone knows it’s easier and less expensive to keep an existing client rather than try to find new ones, but I think it’s important that you mix approaches up and make sure that you’ve got somebody that’s dedicated to bringing in new business either internally or from the outside. 

So let’s say an agency doesn’t have the resources to hire somebody full-time to take care of new business development, well there are companies that offer outsourced new business development services at every level of the development process.

I’m familiar with said outsourced services. When directly employed with the agencies over the years, we worked with outside firms for some of the lead generation on a contract basis. I also had the opportunity to start a consulting business that offered outsourced business development activities as individual activities or as an all encompassing bundle. Whatever the agency needed overtime, we offered. If an agency wanted to work on certain business development activities themselves, such as proposal writing, the agency could hire my firm for other tasks as they needed them. Scalability either up or down was available with this model. 

I think it’s important when you’re approaching new clients that you do so in a solutions oriented manner. There may be a variety of different services that you have to offer. Perhaps it’s primarily web design but there are other added services that you can offer such as site maintenance which provides a value add. 

WP Manage Prime for example, is a WordPress site maintenance company at its core but we believe in the solutions model and offer additional solutions, one of which is outsourced business development. We help agencies bring in new clients and if they offer a maintenance plan we can provide that on a white label basis. We also coach the agency on selling those plans. 

The business development piece is key to sustainability and particularly in these changing times it’s more crucial than ever. If you don’t have the capability to handle business development in house then why not hire an expert who can concentrate on that for you?

Our approach is to first consult with an agency and get a clear understanding of what all of their offerings are and what portions of their service brings in the most revenue. What are the areas that require a little more work to get new clients on board with. What’s been successful and what has failed in your efforts to obtain new clients? 

Once we’ve got a clear picture of what you want to go after and who your ideal client is, we work together to come up with a prospect list.

Often the leaders of an agency are the ones that come up with a prospect list which is perfectly understandable because they have a good understanding of the organization and where they want that organization to go. That’s all wonderful,  but there’s another strategy that I’ve personally used in prospect development which was to ask your team members what kinds of projects they would find interesting to work on and what companies they might like to work with. You might be surprised how that broadens the list of possible prospects. 

Once you’ve got that list together then it’s time to consider who is going to implement the business development program. Do you as the senior leader of the agency have the time to dedicate yourself to that or would it be advisable to look at outsourcing to a business development consulting firm?

Due to the current environment, many agencies have had to lay off employees which is extremely difficult but they still need to spend time on business development. This would actually be one of the best times to look at outsourcing a variety of different business development services to a third-party firm. You can determine the budget and hours are worked accordingly.

So here’s how we can help. Consider WP Manage Prime business development services for agencies. Go to our website at wpmanageprime.com and navigate to the agency business development page. There you’ll find our hourly rate and the various services that we have to offer. You can also schedule a complimentary 15 minute discovery call with the founder of the company (who is our business development expert) to discuss your current circumstances and how we might be able to help. 

If it looks like there’s a good fit between our two organizations we will discuss a strategic plan on achieving your goals. Don’t let new business acquisition go by the wayside. It’s something that should be worked on everyday to keep your agency thriving.