Feast and famine. It’s how far too many agencies describe new business. Ups and downs on the revenue rollercoaster aren’t just stressful for agency principals and leaders—they put the entire business at risk. You can’t avoid the peaks and valleys altogether, but there is a way to take back control.
In this article, I’ll explain why consistent lead flow is critical to growing your agency. I’ll also discuss why traditional business development methods are no longer reliable and the strategy you should be focusing on instead.
The problem with traditional new business efforts
Does this situation sound familiar? You’re responsible for generating new biz. To bring in new clients, you’re spending up to half of the week trying to dig up new opportunities.
When you manage to land the new client, your focus quickly shifts to delivery. But the pain is only relieved for a short time. Inevitably, a different client engagement ends, and you’re back to square one, scrambling for new business.
By nature, it’s hard to balance bandwidth and client demands in any service-based business. Weighing down agency principals and leaders with biz dev activities doesn’t leave room for sustained sales and marketing efforts.
This all-too-common scenario is why agencies fall victim to false starts, inconsistent attempts at publishing content, and other failed lead gen tactics.
Navigating the new agency landscape
Today, agencies operate differently. The “tried and true” ways of generating business are no longer reliable. The following are some of the major shifts in the agency landscape. Because of these shifts, agencies must pivot from waiting for referrals to a proactive business development strategy.
- Budget cuts: In today’s challenging market, clients are cutting budgets. This leaves agencies constantly looking for ways to drive down costs.
- Creation of in-house agencies: CMOs create their own in-house marketing teams for more transparency, cost savings, and customer data control.
- Thinning the Agency Roster: By having fewer agencies to manage, marketers can simplify while also cutting costs.
- Increase in project work: Project work allows companies more creative freedom, less reliance on retainers, and lower costs.
All of these changes mean more competition within the agency landscape. It’s no wonder old tactics have lost their impact. This new agency climate requires you to target and win clients more methodically to survive.
Agency growth is dependent on acquiring new business consistently. A systematic lead generation program is a proven way to create a steady stream of high-quality leads.
Why is consistent lead flow so important?
Word of mouth referrals don’t lead to steady results. Relying on referrals ultimately puts you at the mercy of your contacts’ network. Whether your referral sources want to share your organization with others is in their control—not yours.
Waiting on the phone to ring isn’t a scalable strategy. Periods of feast and famine make it nearly impossible for your agency to adequately staff and budget. Long term growth requires a repeatable, predictable system that allows you to project future growth accurately.
Consistent lead flow safeguards you from inevitable business issues like seasonality or weaknesses in your sales process or people. In the agency world, predictable lead generation is the one way to maintain consistency. Predictable lead gen leads to stability, reliable financial growth, and freedom.
Predictable lead generation through outbound business development
Landing that one-off whale will temporarily spike revenue, but it won’t lead to year-after-year growth. The key is to create a repeatable process that helps you forecast business growth, manage your budget, and justify hiring decisions.
Outbound business development is the process of proactively engaging targeted prospects. Examples of measurable outbound activities are cold calling, emailing, and social media outreach. When you perform a specific amount of outbound activities, you can expect them to convert to a specific number of meetings, opportunities, and eventually closes.
By tracking these metrics, you will identify conversion rates across your sales funnel. Once you have your conversion rates, you can dial outbound activities up or down, better forecast revenue, and make adjustments as needed to hit your targets.
The result? Finally, gauging ROI on your efforts, the ability to set reasonable goals, and taking the actions that will grow your business month after month. The ultimate value in outbound business development is control. Outbound biz dev programs are more effective than traditional lead gen efforts because they:
- Create Predictable Pipelines
Predictability gives your efforts a direction. Once you’re off the revenue rollercoaster, a predictable pipeline lets you manage your team better and lead with confidence.
- Win More Significant Deals
A proactive lead generation system is laser-focused on your ideal clients. It gives you the best chance at winning the types of clients and work you want, leading to bigger deals.
- Save Agency Time and Money
Outbound business development is highly targeted, preventing you from wasting time, money, and effort on ineffective tactics and pursuing the wrong prospects.
Most importantly, outbound programs are metrics-driven. Metrics are what ultimately allow you to scale.
To combat the feast and famine cycles, you must create a steady flow of high-quality leads. Agencies who continue to find themselves in dire need of new business will benefit from a consistent lead generation system that allows for long-term growth.
Budget cuts, project work, and thinning agency rosters are the new reality for agencies. Don’t make the mistake of relying on unreliable sources like word of mouth referrals to generate new business.
Creating a proactive outbound business development process allows you to create predictable pipelines, forecast long-term growth, and properly staff and budget. An established outbound strategy frees up time, money, and energy.
It’s time to get laser-focused on winning bigger deals predictably through outbound business development.
To learn more about getting off the revenue rollercoaster, watch my masterclass: Three Keys to Landing 6- and 7-Figure Opportunities Predictably.