Last year at the NMA Top 100 party a number of former colleagues who have gone on to start up their own creative agencies asked how our sales model works at Endava. Last week I went through some of the suggestions to another person who is starting up a new agency, and they recommend I publish these thoughts on this blog.
The main issue with small creative agencies is that the creative director does the selling. Creative directors are excellent at selling, and that’s exactly why it’s the main issue.
The reason why that is the main issue is because at some point the creative director will make a successful sale, and move into the delivery mode for the client. The project may take a couple of months or longer, and once the creative director is ‘free’ to continue working outside of that project – everyone looks to the creative director and asks why there’s no other work in the pipeline.
The new business pipeline will be erratic and delivery will be even more difficult.
If you’re a creative director reading this, chances are your blood is already boiling despite recognising the issue. Take a break now because the next part will make you even more angry.
Hire a sales team.
The instant reaction from small creative agencies at the NMA event was extremely negative towards sales teams. Many agencies have been sold an external telesales teams or tried employing sales people and spent too much time and effort without any returns.
My suggestions are
- Start with a telesales team to book introduction meetings.
- Use in house telesales teams. As a small company it’s very difficult to outsource telesales.
- Only hire telesales staff with experience. It’s a tough job that requires thick skin, and you need someone who knows what they’re in for.
- Sit the telesales people near to the creative teams so that both teams can overhear each other. Encourage feedback and conversation between the two teams.
Once you feel comfortable with telesales results, hire a sales person. You will have a steady stream of leads/ a pipeline, and the sales person will be able to work on the pipeline to convert some potentials into paying customers.
As for the creative director, they could become the best pre-sales person to work alongside the sales person, but the key point is to let the creative director work on paid for projects, not the constant flipping between sales and delivery.