The Challenge – You’re working in a creative industry and have a “sales element” to your role that requires you to bring in new business (or you’re in charge of hiring or managing a team to do so). However, you’d probably hate to think of yourself as a “salesperson” and hate the thought of being seen as one, and being seen as too “pushy”.
Do you think this might affect your ability to bring in new business?
Of course it will!
There are a number of reasons you (and a large number of others in the creative sectors) will struggle with sales over the next year or so, and to help you avoid falling into the traps that most of your competition will do, I’ve given you some reasons and some tips below.
So why will you struggle to get new business over the next year or so? Are you ready for some “home truths” that might hurt a little? Okay, off we go……
Reason No 1 – You’re too “soft and fluffy”
This is one of the biggest problems for people trying to sell in a any “creative” industry. You’ve either come into the industry as a “technical person”, i.e. web developer or graphic artist, or you’ve come into a role like PR account manager and think it’s all about taking clients out for lunch and being “nice” to them.
In either case you’re in for a bit of a shock. Winning new business is usually not about your level of technical skills or how “good” you are. Nor is it about how “nice” you are to the potential client. Nor is about how many times you take them out for lunch or the size of your expenses budget. And if the only thing that you think is different between you and your competitors is how much wine or champagne you can buy potential clients, then that’s a pretty sad state of affairs, isn’t it?
Don’t think that the best “creative” will win you new business either – it’s proving to be more and more the case that your sales skills or presentation skills (or lack of them) will either win you the business……or not.
Reason No 2 – You rely too much on your existing clients
For most creative companies and agencies this is most certainly the case. Whether it’s laziness, apathy or your comfort zone, this is probably the case in your company too.
Don’t believe me? Let’s put it to the test. If you were to lose your two biggest clients right now, what kind of impact would that have on your company or your sales figures? Now are you a little more concerned? Thought so!
Don’t think “oh that won’t happen to me” by the way, it happened to a Creative Director friend of mine a few months ago. His company lost two of their biggest clients at pretty much the same time, and the “salespeople” just seemed to accept it! No real efforts to try and win the accounts back, no real efforts to bring in new customers to replace them, just an attitude of “oh well, never mind”. Never mind? Are you mad? That kind of attitude will cost people jobs over the next 12 to 18 months – and expect yours to be one of them.
Most creative companies that I meet are too “top heavy” – they have one or two very large accounts that give them the majority of their business, and then a number of smaller accounts that aren’t as much of a priority. Make sure this isn’t the case for you, or if it is, you do something about it quickly!
As happened to that friend of mine, you can lose business through no fault of your own – companies merging or being taken over, new contact comes from another company with their own relationships and existing suppliers they are happy with for example. Make sure you have enough potential business in your pipeline to cover these eventualities. You do have a sales pipeline, don’t you?!!
Reason No 3 – Clients are cutting back
You’ve probably heard lots of people talking about the fact that we’re heading for a “recession”, or if you believe some people, we’re in one already! Now whilst I don’t completely buy-in to that mentality, it is true that clients are being more careful what they spend – particularly in the areas of marketing and PR.
Now I know that clients really shouldn’t cut back on marketing and PR, particularly in the current economic climate (and I’m sure you say that to them), but the fact is that they are doing so right now!
So even if you don’t lose your current top clients completely, if they suddenly drop their spend by 25%….or 50%…..where are you going to replace that work from? What “prospects” do you have that are spending the “lost” amount (or more) with your competitors? You do know how much your prospects are spending with your competitors don’t you? You do have a list of prospects you’d like to be converting into clients right now, and what you’re currently doing to convert them, don’t you?
The sad fact is for most of you, the answer to both those questions is probably “no”. Now you might have an “idea” in your head of who you might like to be working for, but it’s probably based on the strength of that company’s brand (or your own ego trip) that it is about how good that account would be to have, and how profitable it would be.
Reason No 4 – You lack the sales skills necessary to succeed
Oh, this is another tough one! Why not truly scare yourself and rate your current sales skills on a scale of 1-10, 1 being “hopeless” and 10 being “amazing, couldn’t be any more perfect” and see where you think you are when it comes to new business sales skills. And answer it honestly…… 😉
Why not have a look at the attributes of a top “new business” salesperson and see how you fare in these areas? Things like Tenacity? Determination? Resiliance? Confidence?
How about the skills or activities needed to bring in new business? Cold Calling? (you do that, rather than shy away from it, don’t you?), Getting Past Gatekeepers? Objection Handling? Making Appointments? Closing?
You might think I’m being a little tough on you, but it’s for a good reason! If you don’t do something about this now, you’re going to lose business to your competition that you could have won, and struggle in sales or in business in general.
How would you rate your sales skills against an experienced professional salesperson from one of your biggest competitors? People that you’re probably going to come up against time and time again when you’re trying to get new clients?
When was the last time you invested in yourself (or your business) and had some professional sales training that will help give you the skills you currently lack and help you win more business easily?
And having read this article, are you going to do something about it? Or are you going to continually sit there and be miserable and continue to struggle, while your competition are taking business off you hand-over-fist?
I hope I’ve inspired you to take the steps necessary to focus on (and win) more new business. I look forward to hearing about your sales “wins” and the situations you learn from!
If you liked what you read above, and you’re interested in knowing more about how we may be able to help you, call 0845 130 6779 or contact us here….
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