Getting new business used to be about word-of-mouth buzz, good old referrals, knowing when to strike, and presenting unique creative ideas. While these are still important, this approach can take a bunch of time just to land one new client, and results are often sporadic.

An old-school pitch was kind of an abstract promise: “See how well we get along? Let’s work together.” It was more about pitching the agency than pitching the skill set and results. Similarly, the client buyer used to be searching for good chemistry and solid creative.

Not anymore.

Now, client acquisition is data-driven. “See what we’ve done in the past? We can do the same for you. You need to boost sales? We can increase your lead gen by 5x and boost your conversions 3x.” The proof is in the pudding.

While brand reputation and strong relationships are still important, pitching new business today has to be highly scientific and clearly mapped out. Leaving things up to “good chemistry” or reputation is just hoping things will fall into place.

In today’s competitive marketplace, you have to make your own luck, and for that to happen, there are a few key things you can do to seal the deal.

1. Develop a “Value Promise”

When it comes to your pitch, don’t hedge on what you might be able to do for the client. They’re deciding whether to put their trust (and dollars) into your services, so it’s up to you to make it worth their while – and this begins with being precise about what you have to offer. Don’t waste time coming up with generic elevator pitches. Instead, spend your time developing clear “value promises” that tell clients exactly what they can expect to receive from you.

2. Zone In on Your Niche

You win some, you win some. The more you’re able to show similar results for a certain client type, the better your chances will be in winning over more of that business. Then, once you’ve figured out your ideal client types and you’ve got some case studies to prove it, just keep hammering the story about why you are the expert in this area. Make it clear to clients that you won’t need any learning curve. You’re ready to hit the ground running.

3. Be Persistent Without Being Pushy

“No” doesn’t always mean “no” when it comes to doing business. We’ve all heard it a million times: “No thanks, I’m happy with our current services. We’re not in the market for a new agency to work with.” This is where it pays to be clear and precise. By tracking everything you do in a CRM, you’ll have the ammunition you need to say: “OK great, we’re not here to pitch an agency relationship. We’re here to pitch added leads, higher engagement rates, increased sales, and better profit margins. And here’s how we’ll do it.”

4. Make It All About the Client

Position yourself as an extension of the client’s internal team. If you beat your chest and give the impression that you think you can do things better than they can, they’ll just be downright put off. OK, you’re an expert. We get it. Put yourself in the shoes of the client and walk through the buying journey with them. Provide useful data and evidence to support your pitch, and be open in your communications. You’re here to work with them.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Out

How is everyone else in the agency market pitching business? Whatever it is, you should do something different. If they zig, you should zag. If they push, you should pull. To set your brand apart, you have to be willing to break out of the template. Don’t do the expected pitch about your awesome creative team and content strategy. That’s great and should be mentioned, but give your pitch a real “WOW” factor with actionable data points. Make a promise you can deliver on, and then bring up those handy case studies to give it an extra oomph.

6. Remember to Use Your Tools

Don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk. You’re offering marketing automation to your clients, but don’t forget to use it for yourself too. Some of the most successful agency principals use marketing automation to sell marketing automation. Leverage anonymous visitor ID, dynamic emails and landing pages to target people with the right messages. Shift from a “go-to-market” strategy to a “go-to-persona” one. Win by being precise and personalizing your content. And remember – lead scores aren’t just a theoretical thing. Use them. Work them. Focus your efforts on the folks who are most interested.

Making Your Own Luck

There’s no need to start throwing every old-school sales method out the window just yet. But in order to cut through all the noise and bring more clients on board, you can’t just make vague promises anymore. You have to show clients exactly what their money is going to buy them, how you’re going to do it, and when they can expect to start seeing results.


Koertni Adams