In this episode, we chat with Credo‘s John Doherty about his D.S.S.P framework; a four-step-framework his agency partners use to close more business.

Credo is a platform that connects global brands – such as Google, Airbnb, Adobe, The New York Times, and Atlassian – with vetted agencies to fulfill their digital marketing needs.

About John:

As well as being Founder and CEO of Credo, John is also an independent growth marketing and SEO consultant, who’s work has been featured in many esteemed publications, including The New York Times, TheNextWeb, Moz, TechCrunch, CNBC, WIRED, Entrepreneur, plus more.

When he’s not beavering away at work, John’s spending time with wife Courtney, daughter Tatum, and dog Butterbean, or traversing the mountain ranges of Denver, Colorado!

Points of interest…

There’s more information regarding each point in our blog notes beneath the video.

  • Addressing growth, profitability clients, and scaling 2:16
  • Sharing frameworks with agencies 4:16
  • The D.S.S.P Framework 5:39
  • Closing via the D.S.S.P Framework 9:10
  • Tweaking the definition of ‘Being Sold’ 12:02


Growth, Profitability Clients & Scaling

To kick off things off, we address some of the bigger challenges a lot of agencies face when converting new client leads.

Among them is defining ‘what you do’, and ‘who you serve.’ That may sound arbitrary, but there are a lot of two-to-three-person “full-stack” agencies claiming to be the full package. If you’re a two-to-three-person outfit, you may be falling short on the full-stack front given most offer extensive front-end and back-end services.

“There are a lot of non-differentiated people that are like, ‘We do SEO and PPC and CRO and content and, you know, like, Amazon and Reddit marketing, and ALL the things!’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah, but do you actually write, or have you just been a member of Reddit for eight years?'”

Another potential pitfall for agencies is the lack of a set sales process. You can give that first phone call whatever moniker you want – a ‘discovery call’ or a ‘free consultation’ – but when you go into that call without a set framework, it only serves to waste both party’s time.

So, how can you take a potential client from that initial interaction to being someone that’s ready to work with you?

The first thing you need to do is define what a ‘lead’ is. For example, is it an MQL or an SQL? Is it contact information? The term ‘lead’ suffers from serious ambiguity.

“If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the word ‘lead’ over the last four-and-a-half years, like, I would be Richard Branson levels of rich… I was even talking with an agency owner this morning and we were talking about driving leads from paid social. He was like, ‘Yeah, I was paying about $300 for a lead.’ I’m like, ‘Wait, what’s a lead. Is it contact information?!'”

John uses set terminology to define leads and if they’re the right leads for your agency:

  • Wrong Fit: they either don’t have the budget, or they’re not the kind of business you serve
  • Need Fit: they are the kind of business you serve, however, the way they want to work – or what they want to pay – is mismatched
  • Right Fit: for example, it’s an SQL or prospect that you’re trying to close


Defining The D.S.S.P Framework

When it comes to sales, John has a process honed over the years entitled his D.S.S.P Framework. In the most simplistic terms, it’s a four-step sales process.

“A lot of agencies overall like to complicate their sales process. And they’re like, we have all these freaking decision trees and all this stuff. I’m like, no, there’s four steps to it.”

Those D.S.S.P steps comprise of the following…

  • Discovery: You submit a lead and get into the schedule a discovery call. Keep it simple, a 15-minute call, qualify them – in or out
  • Strategy: A few days later, schedule a follow-up strategy call. Spend time with them, spend time with their site, product, etc. Then, as you dig deeper, come alongside them as a strategic partner, and – at this point – broach pricing
  • Scope: The next step is sending them an email following up on the strategy call. Make sure you’re on the same page, address the pricing you discussed – anchoring them high, not low
  • Proposal: Once they reply saying they’re happy with the points discussed – then send your official proposal (or, better yet, schedule a call to review it with them)


Closing Via The D.S.S.P Framework

Some agencies are so afraid of not closing enough work, they’ll immediately bend over backwards for potential clients.

However, when you implement a repeatable process that will help you find the right fit of client, one that you can work with alongside D.S.S.P, then the sky’s the limit.

“Your budgets go up, your client quality goes up, your happiness goes up, your revenue goes up, like all the things go up!”

It all starts with saying…

  • This is who we are
  • This is what we’re qualified to do
  • And this is who we do it for

If they don’t check all those boxes, they aren’t the right fit. In the event you did manage to close, they probably won’t stick around. So, consider it a win-win; you won’t be wasting time with additional phone calls, or putting together proposals for something that was never a good fit for you in the first place.

Oftentimes, when you tell a prospective client you’re not a good fit and therefore won’t be working with them, you’ll be surprised by the concessions they may be willing to make just to work with you – all because you’ve positioned yourself as an expert.

Tweak the Definition of ‘Being Sold’

There is a refrain John hears from businesses all too frequently…

“I need these five things, but I want a consultant; I don’t want to talk to an agency because I don’t want to be sold.”

Remember, that perception of sales doesn’t have to be “you know, shiny button-down shirt, Vegas-style, slick back hair sort of sale, right?!”

Like we’ve said many times on this blog; if you are the true solution to their problem, then you probably owe it to them to get them to work with you.

Again, questions like “What are the problems you’re dealing with in your business?” or “Have you any new launches you need guidance with” or simply “How can I help you – we’re experts in this, this and this over here” are always golden when offering solutions to prospective clients.


The Take-Away…

When you’re selling, have a framework through which you price your work – such as set packages. You can then mix and match some of those set packages if needs be.

Then, make the following very clear…

  • What you are going to do for them
  • When you’re going to review the campaign software
  • How you’re going to provide them with a report
  • How often you’re going to touch base with them (once a month, at the VERY least)

Concrete clarity and consistent communication are key!

Want to see more of John? Follow him @…

Did you learn anything new from this episode? If so, let us know in the comments below – we value your feedback! Our next installment of #APP, on July 8th, will see us chat with Andy Cabasso. To view our previous blog with Keith Perhac, make your way here


Agency Profitability Tool Kit

If you’re looking for more resources to help you improve your agency’s profitability, then check out the Agency Profitability Tool Kit – it’s full of the same templates and checklists we’ve used with consulting clients to help them improve their profitability by over 100% in under 60 days.