A key question to consider before your agency begins any prospecting effort is ‘What are we selling?’ What do you mean, what are we selling? We’re selling strategy! We’re selling creative! We’re selling analytics! Remember, we already established that these are your departments, and prospects aren't buying your departments. Well, we’re selling results! While trite, this gets closer to what you are selling, but it’s still not right. To reiterate, you are ultimately selling solutions to client problems, with solutions defined as a ‘means of solving a problem.’ So, as a first step, evaluate the problems you have solved for clients over the years. Pull together all your ‘greatest hit’ case studies and consider the problem the client hired you to solve in each scenario and the unique way you solved it. What was the client’s ‘whole problem’ in each scenario? What capabilities did you bring together to solve the whole problem? What about your solution was unique? What was the exact process you used to solve this problem? What did you learn by solving this problem that could help you solve it again for someone else? Even large agencies won’t have more than four or five problems they have solved once they bucket the cases by client pain (pain that aligns to what the client is hired and fired for – so, the major pains). These ‘solutions’ form the back bone of what you can now proactively sell to other companies with similar problems. But you might need to think creatively. Here’s an example. A full service digital agency based in Europe was opening an office in the US and wanted to begin prospecting to Fortune 500s. Their services and capabilities were at parity with their competitive set, and the world certainly wasn’t interested in hearing about the capabilities of another digital agency. But! They had solved a particularly vexing problem for event marketers in a unique and differentiating way using digital technologies that other event marketers would recognize as valuable (and hard to get from their current digital agencies). We turned it into a solution, and it became the first thing we sold. Importantly, the agency was able to break through in a cluttered market by thinking creatively about the problems it solved for clients.

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