The Hand Talks

Is ‘selling’ too sordid for creative agencies?

by The Hand

Many of us struggle with the notion of ‘selling’. We don’t want to be seen as salespeople because it feels a bit grubby, for some reason. Yet, each of us do sell every single day. When we want to get a new idea across in a creative brainstorm, that’s selling. When we want to persuade our partner to go on that camping trip to the Lakes, we’re selling. When we try to convince our little ones to eat their broccoli, that’s selling. So, why do we get a bit uncomfortable about it when it comes to ‘selling’ in a new business context?

Enter the old (yet still very present) stereotype of the typical salesperson as pushy, overly-confident and aggressive. This type of negative association with sales still exists within the creative agency environment. Some agencies still believe sales is about sending out mass mailings and slamming out as many cold calls as possible. It feels murky, or sordid, even. And, so, many people within creative agencies (unsurprisingly) want nothing to do with it.

But agency new business doesn’t have to be like that. Here’s what it should be about:

  • It’s about exceptional knowledge gathering and research.
    The more information you can gather and the better informed you are, the better the results will be. 

  • It’s about a targeted and tailored approach.
    Gone are the days of the ‘spray and pray’ approachYou need to understand your audience, know what their needs and wants are, and then develop your approach accordingly.

  • It’s about quality interactions that lead to opportunities (not volume of meetings).
    ‘Volume of meetings’ is not a metric worth having. Every interaction should be set up properly, researched extensively and have the best possible chance of leading to opportunity. There needs to be a real reason for the meeting, otherwise it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. A meeting needs an agenda and a purpose, meaning that needs and wants have already been identified. You should rarely settle for just a ‘credentials’ meeting.

  • It’s about a long-term approach, not a quick fix.
    There’s always going to be moments where you need to supercharge your new business efforts. But an ‘always on’ approach to your pipeline is the key to success. Often, unless you’re really lucky, rewards are built over time, rather than immediate.

  • It’s about putting your best foot forward.
    Preparation is everything and you should never ‘wing it’ on a new business meeting. Treat it as your one opportunity to make your best first impression.

  • It’s about making a connection.
    If an opportunity is well researched and prepared for then the rest is down to chemistry. Remember, people buy from people and so taking a human approach will often lead to a good result.

Put simply, selling is about need and fulfilment. It doesn’t have to feel sordid. And it can and should be part of any creative agency role. The more we can embrace this more positive view of selling, the better our opportunities will be. 

If you’d like to talk more about developing an ‘always on’ approach to new business, then do drop me a line at