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This is an open letter to all you entrepreneurial, my-way-or-the-highway, smartest-person-in-the-room types that have decided that in order to get your business to the next level you need to engage the services of a new agency, consultant or adviser.
In a word – PLEASE DON’T!
Seriously, don’t hire anyone, it will be better for everyone! Better for the consultants. Better for your team. Better for your business. And better for you!
This piece of advice comes from years of personal experience and is reflected in the saying, “If you are going to do all the barking, don’t buy a dog!”
Strong, me-driven leaders have a hard time with “new.” They understand they need to make a change – at least intellectually. And in their more rational moments, they know they can’t take the company any further and need the infusion of new thinking. So they send out an RFP and give the qualifying agencies the same pitch, “I want your best work. Think out of the box. Nothing is off limits. We need cutting edge ideas. Etc. Etc. Etc.”
Invariably the agency comes back with solutions that fit those marching orders and are met with, “I don’t think so. I know my customer and they won’t buy that. I don’t like those colors. Absolutely not. No. No. No.”
The match made in heaven quickly ends up in purgatory on the slippery slope to hell…
So what can prevent that fate and turn a potential disaster into a win-win partnership?
Set Reasonable Objectives
You know what kind of leader you are. (Or you should be getting some help understanding what kind of leader you are!) You know how much ‘new’ you can tolerate. You know how willing you are to let go of the reigns and let others take control. And you should be familiar with how your team responds to change and challenge.
So before you send out those RFPs and start interviewing candidates, set some reasonable objectives for the assignment. Certainly push the limits of your personal comfort zone, but there is no use setting the moon as your objective if you aren’t willing to leave earth’s atmosphere. Be willing to accept a sub-orbital objective while realizing that you can always extend the mission later.
By setting reasonable objectives, you save the agency from engaging in flights of fantasy that will crash shortly after lift-off. You also save your team the agonizing ordeal of rejecting everything out of hand. And you save the frustration of wasting valuable time in exploring non-viable ‘solutions.’
Setting reasonable expectations gets everyone on the same page more quickly, focuses the solutions to ‘can-do” alternatives, and energizes your team for the executional phase.
Or at least as dispassionately as possible.
I have sat in many pitch review meetings where a strong leader has gotten all excited about the chemistry with the agency’s pitch leader. You’ve probably said it yourself, “I love that guy. They get me and what I want to accomplish. We’re a perfect match. This is going to be great!”
All the while your team is sitting there, hopefully not in a paralyzed state of submission to ‘what the big guy wants’, thinking, “Yeah you guys connected, but his team is a bunch of head-bobbing non-starters. We can’t work with them. This is going to be a disaster!”
Set up an Agency Evaluation form before the pitch. Include all the things you think will be essential to a good partnership, including chemistry, competency, results from similar assignments, etc. Have each team member fill it out, anonymously if necessary, tabulate the response and then conduct your post mortem from that baseline. If a moment of wisdom breaks out, you might consider weighting your team’s response above yours since they are going to be the boots on the ground once you get up and running.
This is the hard part for most of you…trust!
You know the little voices in your head: “Can I really trust my team?” “Can I really trust my agency partner?” “What are the guarantees everything is going to work out if I don’t get all hands-onish and take control of this process?”
Bottom line is you are really asking, “Can I trust myself?” Can I trust my choice of the people on my team? Can I trust the choice of objectives I have laid out? Can I trust the process I set in place to select our partner? Can I trust others enough so that I don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room?
The hard truth is that you’re never going to get to the next level if you’re not willing to trust others with the outcome. You have your part. You have your piece. But unless you are willing to let the dogs out, you are destined to get laryngitis…and remain pretty much where you are.
So, if you are going to do all the barking, don’t buy a dog! If you are determined to get to the next level in your business, set reasonable objectives, select dispassionately and practice trust.
Stay tuned for more relevant content on creating world-class digital marketing strategies and B2B telemarketing sales strategies. We at SalesFish Brand Marketing & Sales thank you for joining us in our commitment to unwavering strategic planning, B2B brand marketing and B2B sales execution.
Call today and our “high-touch” dedicated team will assist you in assessing your strategic sales goals to tailor our marketing and sales tactics to your specific needs.
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