business toolsWe recently co-sponsored and released a survey report with Mirren Business Development (The 2013 Mirren-RSW/US Definitive Guide to New Business Tools) that featured 12 platforms/tools agencies use to further their new business efforts. If I had to narrow down those tools from our report that are absolutely essential to a strong new business effort, these would be my picks and why:

1. CRM Software:

Without CRM software, there really is no way to have a vibrant pipeline filling and an effective inbound or outbound program. It’s easy when you start, but prospects will quickly number in the 100s, and you can’t track, incorporate data and follow up with prospects without one. Tracking email campaigns, monitoring your overall sales pipeline and integrating customer data are just a few of the advantages. Too many agencies don't have them or do and let them collect dust. You're paying for it - use it.

Excel is not a CRM by the way.

2. List Building Services:

The backbone of any program is a targeted, clean list, and the majority of agencies do not have time to do it. A good list service gives you research and better quality and quantity of leads. I've heard the argument that you can rely on a really robust inbound program and eschew outbound lists. Not a good move. The ideal program blends both outbound and inbound, so you can target those ideal prospects directly.

3. Social Platforms:

Social is not going anywhere, and marketers are getting younger. We had a prospect tell one of our new business directors recently, “I don’t do voicemail.”

Per Michael Gass,

“Social media ‘teaches’ agencies to promote themselves the way they should have been doing new business all along, to lead with benefits instead of agency capabilities and credentials.”

Gass wants you to go big with an agency blog, content strategy and social as the delivery arm for it all. He’s absolutely right, but you have to be mentally ready to take it on. Your agency mantra should be “start small” with social. Start with LinkedIn and Twitter and spend 15 minutes a day, for example, focusing on it.

4. Email/Auto-Responder Services:

Why do you need it?

In short, time and reach. While many do it poorly, it’s still an entirely viable channel in concert with all the others.

The cost is low, you’re covered when it comes to the CAN-SPAM Act and the list management and stats are invaluable.

But for this last one, you’re going to need content — the large elephant in the room.

You need it because you've got to show your prospects the thinking behind your work and show, indirectly, how you can do it for them, too (And don’t forget the SEO considerations and advantages).

I know you don’t have the time or you don’t know what to write about.

The first one is true, but you really don’t have a choice. Remember, start small —one post a month — and make the time.

As to the second: you’re helping solve client challenges every day with great work in specific verticals.

Write about it, but don’t pound your agency chest and make it a subtle sell. Explain the process around it or how you solved the challenge and how it directly relates to your prospect’s industry.

You can do it. Start now.

Originally published Jul 2, 2013 1:00:40 AM, updated December 02 2014

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