In this episode, we’re delighted to welcome Joey Gilkey to discuss how to get and drive sales for the digital agency, through his tried and tested blend of processes, people, and enablement.
About Joey Gilkey…
Joey Gilkey is the CEO of Sales Driven Agency, which helps digital marketing agencies actually get sales right. Having built in the region of 350 agency sales operations and driven nearly half a billion dollars in agency revenue, Joey believes every successful agency could – and should – be driven by their sales operation.
When he’s not helping agencies scale via their sales department, Joey enjoys shooting guns, sampling bourbon, and riding 4-wheelers. In unrelated news; we’re particularly enthused to be joined by him for this rescheduled podcast as he’s recently recovered from an unfortunate accident.
Points of Interest…
- Main Issue Holding Agencies Back 4:18
- What Does it Mean to be a Sales Driven Agency? 6:58
- Keys to Becoming a Sales Driven Agency 10:39
- Process 12:15
- People 17:04
- Enablement 20:43
Main Issue Holding Agencies Back
Across 300 plus agencies, Joey has seen some patterns; namely, mistakes or gaps that are holding agencies back from scaling their business and really being in a place where they’ve got a full pipeline at all times. The most common detour being taken is the realization that they are not salespeople.
“They do not have a sales background. Therefore, they don’t know sales, or how to cook a business that is driven by sales. So, they choose what they perceive to be the easier path of ‘How can I accelerate referrals? How’s it going to accelerate inbound, etc. This is what they envisioned for themselves. Unfortunately, in a extremely crowded space, it’s difficult to get paid what you are worth.”
Typically, the founder/CEO/Agency owner finds themselves stuck in the sales cockpit. Usually, they aren’t salespeople and don’t have the necessary background to create an even, steady flow of leads. You can get stuck in this vortex because precious clients come for you. Naturally, you’re reluctant to delegate to someone else for fear of losing that valuable lead.
What Does it Mean to be a ‘Sales Driven’ Agency?
In essence, it’s an agency that is driven by the sales department and thus able to grow in three ways: predictably, sustainably, and scalably. Let’s break it down…
• Predictably: You can accurately predict how many leads are going to land; the rate at which you can close them; and how much you are going to charge for them. This allows you to forecast to make big/necessary decisions. You guessed it; this is where our best friend, Data, comes in.
• Sustainability: Joey says he sees a lot of agencies “silver bullet hunting”, AKA trying to hunt down that one new tactic that will see you through the next quarter. Perhaps it’s starting a podcast and inviting on your ideal customers as guests? At one point, the big “shiny new object” was LinkedIn’s Target Market Automation. These are just two examples of how agencies believe they’ll get leads through the proverbial door. What may seem like the next shiny big object is invariably not optimum for your agency…
“When you’re selective about how you grow, you become attached and dependent on one thing. If that “thing” changes or departs, you plumb it, right? You ride the wave of the tactic… Being sustainable is not having to roll with the waves. You have your set processes in place. It is holistic, it’s omnichannel, it’s not super dependent on just one thing.”
• Scalability: It is very difficult to scale if you can’t transfer knowledge, wisdom, and insight into the next person you bring in. As you grow and scale, you need to bring people in and you need to transfer to get the same outcomes. ***Joey revisits the importance of Scalability at 21:52 minutes***
Keys to Becoming a Sales Driven Agency
Part of Joey’s ethos is Process, People, and Enablement. The sequencing is important and here’s why…
• Process: For the uninitiated; processes are a framework, or – as Joey puts it – “an ecosystem of frameworks and systems” to help generate optimum outcomes. The reason we repeat it a certain way is because that produces Data. And Data tells a story. ***Joey digs into this more at 12:43***
Any process nerd knows you should have a solid process in place internally for how you build processes. Record your sales calls, your leadership meetings, and keeping track of how you assemble campaigns. Collating this info can seem tricky – but it doesn’t have to be. You could start easily by recording live videos, sending those to a VA or technical writer to turn into an SOP. We discuss ***the merits of technical writers when creating processes from the 15:35 minute mark***
Side note: if you’ve got a process for how you go about defining your scopes for projects, it’s best that you install a regular cadence to review and tweak these numbers based on past performance as time goes on. The Agency Profit Toolkit is a free resource that has meeting templates that you could directly apply to this, among other goodies. Grab your copy below!
• People: When you consider Hiring, it’s not too different from sales; it’s a prospect that just happens to be a candidate we want to hire for our company. You need a process to best vet candidates. This helps to determine their attitude, aptitude, and cultural fit.
Unfortunately, in Joey’s experience, even agency salespeople in the digital space don’t know how to sell agency services effectively. They don’t know the tools, or how close a sale with the right people, or conduct a first-time appointment or assemble a proposal. What Training have you built for them?
This brings us to the final component of ‘People’, that being Managing. This is probably one of the more difficult ones for agency owners; we’re usually all terrible managers. Leadership, management, and coaching are what makes for a good sales leader. They need to be pointed in the right direction, plus excited about the destination. ***Joey delves into this at the 20:00 minutes***
• Enablement: You have figured out the right process and the right people, now, how can you leverage technology to bring this all together? What is it that enables a salesperson to do their job very well and run the processes? It’s your tech stack.
What is typically inside your CRM; your sales engagement tool; proposal software; invoicing software; dashboard and reporting software. Your tech stack needs to be well-oiled, integrated and customized. Before you start thinking this can be solved by building your sales process via Salesforce or Hubspot; beware the shiny, new object…
To be blunt; if you don’t fully comprehend how to holistically build out sales operations you’re likely going to get sales completely wrong – blowing a ton of time and money in the process.
A common mistake made by agency owners is hiring a highly-skilled account executive, only for them to burn out doing excessive outreach. When they have an opportunity to create leverage, instead of doing so, they hire another AE to do the same stuff. In actuality, you should hire someone that fills your AE’s calendar so the latter can focus on closing. That is where the leverage is.
Want to see more from Joey?
Joey hosts THE Best Damn Agency podcast. Every Wednesday, he interviews a “bad-ass seven or eight-figure agency.” Additionally, Joey’s mastermind director interviews him every Friday in a segment entitled Sales On The Rocks.
Did you learn anything new from this episode? Let us know in the comments below! Our next installment of #APP, on September 22nd, will see us chat with founder of Serve Don’t Sell, Liston Witherill. Our previous blog with Marcel is here…
Agency Profitability Tool Kit
If you’re looking for more resources to help you improve your agency’s profitability, check out the Agency Profitability Tool Kit. It’s full of templates and checklists used when consulting clients. This helps them improve profitability by over 100% in under 60 days.