ThinkHandy is a small 2 person agency, started less than two years ago and specializing in content marketing. Only four months after starting their activity, they had recurring revenues of $20,000 per month, without making any cold calls. In less than two years, they are already making $400.000 per year and have stopped their sales activity because they cannot handle more customers.
Considering that this is a new agency, without previous experience, they have gotten great results. I especially like this story because they have followed a strategy that can be replicated with success by any communication or marketing agency, no matter if it is large or small, new or with a lot of years of experience. In this article, I explain, step by step, their sales strategy. At the end, I share how their sales strategy can be adapted to a communications agency.
ThinkHandy uses content to attract visitors interested in their services to their website. When they arrive at their website, they are put into a process that captures their data and nurtures them. This strategy helps the agency concentrate only on those they can help the most and who have a higher probability of becoming customers.
ThinkHandy offers a recurring service—that is, services that charge customers every month. Due to this, they do not have to be permanently looking for new customers to get to the end of the month.
How they attract visitors to their website?
ThinkHandy attracts visitors to their website through content marketing. The agency generates content relevant for their potential customers, answering questions they have and which have not yet been answered well. This content attracts visitors through search engines and also through their promotional efforts in LinkedIn.
How they use LinkedIn.
Besides the traffic they get from search engines, the CEO, Chris Handy, goes to LinkedIn to find more prospects.
The strategy he uses is as follows: First, he becomes a member of groups related to those industries they are more interested in. Every morning, he receives a report with a summary of the activity of these groups that gives him an idea of the more active conversations in the groups. If he spots a conversation that is directly related to the services they offer and he sees he can help in any way, he jumps into the group. He shares an article he already has that revolves around a subject they are discussing and which helps to clarify doubts.
If the article is directly related to what is being discussed, it will bring those from the group who are interested in the discussion to the agency’s website.
Chris is a member of about 45 different groups on LinkedIn, but is only active in 4-5 of them, where he invests about 1 hour/day.
What do visitors do when they arrive at their website?
When a visitor arrives at their website, they offer a free report related to the article he just read. In exchange for this report, the agency asks for the email and offers to answer different questions. The free reports are directly related to the content he just read and the types of services that the agency offers. This way, the agency makes sure that all those visitors who want this report will also be interested in a solution related to what is discussed in the report.
In total, the agency has about 15 different reports, although, at a given moment, they only offer 4 or 5, placed in different sections of the website.
In exchange for this free report, ThinkHandy asks for the following information:
- First name
- Last name
- Company name
- URL of the website
- Position of the person at the company
- The company’s biggest challenge
- If the person works at a marketing agency
After completing this information, the visitor gets the free report and the agency gets the details of the customer.
For example, one of the aspects that disqualifies a visitor is if this person does not have a position where he could decide if the agency should be employed or not. They only want to start this process with people who are decision makers. Other prospects will also disqualify as they move through the process, and some of those who arrive at the end of the process will become customers.
The four qualifying and disqualifying parts of the process:
Once you have identified that a visitor has a good profile, the agency starts a 4-step process that will help separate the good candidates from the bad ones. During this process, they will obtain more information from the customer. These conversations are done by phone and through the platform GoToMeeting, where they can share the computer screen.They could also have these conversations through Skype or Google Hangout, which offer similar functionalities.
The 4 steps of the qualifying process are the following:
Step 1: Find out the objectives of the company
First of all, the agency proposes having a telephone conversation with all those visitors that have qualified after completing the initial 8-question questionnaire. To help the customer accept this first conversation, they offer to give them some tips and information that will help them improve their marketing results. This way, the customer understands that this conversation is an opportunity to receive free help and specific tips that will help his business.
Once the customer has agreed to have a telephone conversation that would last between 20 and 30 minutes, the agency finds out all they can about the company and especially what their objectives are. During this conversation, the agency gives the customer tips and specific suggestions on the different improvements they can make on their website, as well as in their marketing efforts.
The objective of this first step is to get enough information from the customer, in exchange for value. It is a great opportunity for the agency to understand all about this prospect, their objectives and what is the likelihood of them becoming a customer. They use this opportunity to ask some questions and obtain information that will be used in the next steps of the process.
The relationship between the agency and the customer starts to build up.
Step 2: Complete the second questionnaire
After the initial conversation, the agency asks the customer to complete a second questionnaire, which includes different questions related to their marketing activity. For example, they ask if the customer currently does certain marketing activities.
Through this questionnaire, the agency achieves two objectives:
- They get information which is important for the customer to help them understand and adjust to the proposal afterwards.
- Through different questions and answers, the customer starts to realize that he is doing very little marketing and could do much more.
Step 3: Analyze how they can obtain their objectives
The next step is to analyze, together with the customer, what they should do to reach their goals. This step lets the prospect realize that he can do more than what he is doing at the present time.
If, for example, one of the objectives of the company is to grow in sales to a certain point, the agency would take the customer through a process to understand what they have been doing up until then and what they have achieved so far. From this information, they would jointly determine how many new visitors they would need and afterwards convert, to achieve these objectives. At this moment, the customer starts to realize that they need to make changes in their marketing. They realize that these better results will not come by themselves and they need to increase their marketing budget.
Step 4: Present and agree on a strategy and sign a contract
In the next step, the agency shows the customer a marketing plan based on a Power Point presentation. This presentation is the same one that is presented to all customers, with a few adaptations, since all the customers that arrive to this part of the process need a similar solution (otherwise they would have been disqualified during the process). In this presentation, the agency presents the proposal and the next steps to achieve the objectives defined in the previous steps. The agency talks about the cost and the time it would take to execute this plan.
When the customer accepts this plan, a contract is signed and the agency begins to work.
The most interesting aspects of this process are:
- During this process, the agency and the customer get to know each other better and a relationship starts to build up, which makes it easier to progress. The agency obtains information from the customer that will help them to adjust their final proposal.
- Only those customers who are convinced of and need a solution in line with what the agency is going to offer will continue the process.
- The process attracts people interested in the services that ThinkHandy offers. The agency does not need to waste time going after prospects who have a low probability of wanting the type of service they will offer.
- If, at the beginning of the sequence, the customer is not convinced that the type of solution which is going to be offered is the proper one, the process will help to convince them.
- This plan will be built from the objectives of the customer and the proposed plan is mutually agreed upon during the process. The agency has gotten enough information to know the type of plan their customer is interested in and what things are especially important.
- During the process, customers receive value through the different tips that they receive. They also have the opportunity to try some of these tips, see the effect, and build up their confidence in the agency.
This is a strategy that, with different variations, can be used by agencies all over the world and of all sizes to get new customers and, which works for all kinds of services. If you are a communications agency, I am going to give you a specific example of how you can adapt this strategy. You would need to:
- Create content around the service and customers you want to sell your services to, so you can attract these type of customers to your website. In this case, if, for example, your target customers are restaurants, you could write articles such as: how to get customers to tweet while they are at your restaurant.
- Detect what other type of information or report your potential customer wants and is ready to offer you his personal data in exchange. This could be a free report, as, for example, a free guide on the 10 steps a restaurant owner needs to follow to get local media to write about the restaurant.
- Join LinkedIn groups or forums where you can find people who need your services and attract them to your website. In our example, this would be groups where restaurant owners get together. When someone in the group talks about not having enough customers, you could jump in and suggest a solution which is further explained in one of your articles. Then you give them a link to the article so all who are interested can read more about it on your website. The moment they arrive at your website, they will see your free reports and may subscribe.
- Get the prospect’s contact details as well as any other information you need to qualify them.
- Adapt the 4-step strategy to your service to give them more and more information to help those customers understand the need of your services.
This article has been written based on a great interview I listened to at BrightIdeas.co. You can find the complete interview by following this link, as well as a transcription of the full interview. In this article you just read, there are a few personal interpretations of the interview. I had to complete certain parts that were not that clear to me at first after listening, analyzing, organizing, and writing this article.