Business Development for Agencies
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Chris Willow
Founder of SPP
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Business Development Insights for Agencies To Boost Growth

Regardless of starting a new agency business, or running an established company: cash flow gives you the freedom to invest in new services, bigger marketing ventures, and better tools. Without funds, a new agency is destined to struggle with development.

If your agency can’t grow, it’ll quickly be swallowed in debt and expenses. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, here are actionable business development insights to help your agency grow faster and more sustainably.

What is business development for agencies?

Business development are activities that grow your company, for instance finding new clients, expanding to new markets, or upselling existing clients. 

Business developers can focus on almost any part of a company. Their efforts include implementing strategies, initiatives, partnerships, technologies, and more.

Here is a quick look at the role that business development could take within various aspects of your company:

  • Marketing: The goal of business development in marketing is to reach new audiences or better engage with the existing audience. For example, when launching a new product, you might spend time brainstorming keywords for SEO or PPC campaigns to reach your ideal customers.

  • Networking: A strong business development strategy also includes growing partnerships with other companies, communities, and stakeholders. These relationships become long term assets that will open up countless opportunities in the future.

  • Sales: Your sales business development strategies play a key role in picking up where your marketing efforts leave off. A PPC ad might capture a lead, but it’s often up to a sales rep, email drip campaign, or landing page to convert that lead into a paying customer.

  • Fulfillment: Once the order is placed or the deal is struck, fulfillment can make the difference between a one-shot sale and a repeat customer. Therefore, designing a seamless order management process is key to successful business growth.

10 steps to streamline business development for agencies

As a business developer or a founder, it’s your job to implement a strategic plan to grow your agency’s bottomline. Let’s look at a few ideas that you can start implementing today.

1. Feel your customers’ pain and address them in your positioning

Empathy isn’t a word that gets thrown around by business development marketing agencies much.

At the end of the day, a business won’t thrive without relationships. And a relationship won’t thrive without empathy.

Feel how stretched for time they are. Feel how hungry for rankings they are. And acknowledge their pain in your messaging. This includes what you mention in your case studies, testimonials, and email templates. Show that you understand what they’re going through and build your authority and credibility around solving those pain points.

The first step in business development is to be aware of the pain your customers are feeling. For instance, if you’re an SEO agency, focus less on pitching your services. Instead, educate prospects on how search engine optimization can help them scale.

2. Niche down

As a small agency, you can only do so much. Johnathan Solorzano of Solo Media Group learned the hard way that stretching yourself thin can limit your scalability. After niching down his web development agency to exclusively work on Shopify and WooCommerce projects, he was able to focus his services on a small audience with very specific needs.

Working in a narrow niche allowed Johnathan to transform the most common questions from customers into a series of services using Service Provider Pro’s simple one-page checkout solution.

3. Productize your services

If you aren’t familiar with the term, productizing involves turning what is usually a bespoke service into streamlined packages at fixed prices that are easier to sell, manage, and fulfill.

For example, Garrett Smith from GMB Gorilla had a productized business idea that he tested as a minimum viable product (MVP) with the help of SPP. He set up a simple website, put SPP in the backend to work, and used ads to test the demand. Once he noticed that the business had potential, Garrett was able to predict his monthly cash flow thanks to SPP’s recurring service feature, and scale his business strategically.

4. Cross-sell and upsell

Taking the productization route one step further, you also need to provide options to pay for your services with different billing cycles (e.g., monthly, every three months, etc.):

  • Provide longer-term plans. Many loyal customers would prefer to pay over a longer period of time, provided that there’s a discount (e.g. 15–30%). These packages could renew every 3/6/12 months.

  • Upsell to your loyal client base. According to a study done for the book Marketing Metrics, there’s a 5–20% chance of selling to a new prospect. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70% though. Too many agencies focus on acquiring new customers and ignore the fact that existing ones may be willing to pay more.

You can also supplement your revenue by providing additional services that provide more value to your clients. This is a tried-and-true tactic to increase sales done by businesses across many different verticals, including McDonald’s. With SPP, you can easily provide the option to purchase additional services in the client portal.

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5. Build a brand, not just a business

Business development goes hand in hand with brand development.

Your brand is the story your company is telling to the world. It encompasses your mission and values just as much as it does the services you offer.

As you position yourself as the solution for your customers’ biggest pain points, your brand evolves based on the memories and emotions that they associate with your company. Every experience they have with you determines how you are branded.

Here are actionable steps to achieve a more purposeful brand:

  1. Tell your origin story (for example, in a blog post or on your about page).

  2. Push your unique selling proposition. What is it that separates your product or service from the competition’s?

  3. Add a human element to your branding by sharing photos or stories of employees and customers (with permission, of course).

  4. Differentiate yourself from fly-by-night agencies by investing in professional visual design for elements like your logo, website, and ad creatives.

6. Implement a referral program

All that extra trust you earn from building a strong brand means that you can enlist an army of brand ambassadors to make sales for you while you sleep. All you need is a referral or affiliate program that encourages satisfied customers to share the love.

SPP affiliate program client view

While you might worry that a referral program will involve a lot of custom coding and routine maintenance, using software like Service Provider Pro makes it almost effortless. With SPP, as soon as customers are signed up for your client portal, they have instant access to their referral link (if you allow anyone to be an affiliate).

7. Build trust with case studies

Without a lot of experience under your belt, you may struggle to convince potential customers to trust you—especially when it comes to high ticket services.

That’s why compiling and publishing case studies is so important to business development for agencies. With proof of past success, you’ll be able to show clients that you are worth the investment. 

There are countless templates and outlines for case studies out there, but you can check out some of SPP’s most impressive case studies if you are looking for concrete examples of how to highlight your customer success stories.

Key elements to a successful case study include the following:

  • Demonstrate the struggle the customer was having.

  • Explain how your product or service solved this problem.

  • Showcase concrete metrics to demonstrate the success story.

8. Streamline order management

The key to scaling your business is eliminating choke points from your sales funnel. Anything that requires manual input is going to add extra time or expense that will limit your ability to expand.

Choke points are a result of creating processes and procedures under pressure as your company grows. You end up with what Derek Iwasiuk, owner of DigitalPush, described as a “random mishmash of products” that don’t play well together.

To run his SEO agency, Derek was trying to juggle Wufoo forms and WordPress plug-ins similar to WooCommerce. Since replacing this mishmash with SPP as an all-in-one solution, he has been able to automate order management for 5,000 different websites that DigitalPush services.

9. Get your metrics right

Gathering and analyzing data is the only way to quantify your business growth. But with so many metrics to focus on, which ones are most important for you?

There isn’t a cut and dry answer. And your key performance indicators will evolve as your company grows. However, here are a few of the more obscure metrics that every business should probably be tracking as they focus more on business development:

  • Revenue growth: The rate at which your revenue is growing over time. This helps track how quickly your business is developing. If a single month flatlines or veers downhill, don’t panic. As long as you are moving upward over the long haul, you are in a good spot.

  • Units sold: More sales is obviously better. However, if you break units sold down by product, you may notice that some are vastly underperforming. You’ll have to decide if they need to be marketed better or removed from the menu altogether.

  • Average order value: By understanding how much a customer typically spends on a single order, you can better predict the ROI that you will get from marketing campaigns like SEO or pay-per-click ads. For example, if you know that your average customer acquisition cost is around $200, and the average order value is $300, you can presume that your campaign will be successful.

SPP admin dashboard reports

Service Provider Pro has a variety of native reports that you can use to see how your business is doing.

10. Hire a business development service

Not every business owner has the time or talent to handle all of these strategies on their own. Don’t feel shy about investing in a business development marketing agency to take over some or all of the responsibilities of business development for you.

Depending on your budget and goals, you could…

  • Hire a sales agency to help you get more leads and refine your outreach strategy.

  • Outsource individual tasks to freelancers if you still want to handle most of the business development in-house.

  • Pay for business development consulting if you want to do much of the work yourself but don’t feel confident about your strategy.

Key takeaways

If you walk away from this post with nothing else, we hope you’ve learned that…

  • Strategic business development for agencies is integral to scaling your business.

  • It’s better to take little steps over time than to get so overwhelmed that you do nothing.

  • You can jumpstart success by hiring a professional business developer or investing in tools that make business growth easier.

Now it’s time to stop reading and take action. Make a plan to put one or more of these tips into play now.

Ready to give it a try?

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