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Design Agency Sales Strategies: Social Selling

In the agency world, I’m somewhat of an anomaly. I’m not a designer and I am most certainly not a developer. Anything that remotely looks like creativity in my work is through osmosis of working with hundreds of talented creatives over nearly 2 decades. However, I am and always will be a student of business and in particular sales. It’s something I enjoy and even to this day, I get a buzz from selling. Yet I realise for many agency owners selling is the hardest part of their role and setting design agency sales strategies is an alien world altogether.

In this article, I will share one of the most important agency sales strategies that everyone in your studio should be working towards daily.  And I do mean everyone. But let me explain why.

Design Agency Sales Strategy: Social selling

I cannot think of any role in an agency where social selling should not be part of their role. And I get it, a designer will say their job is to design. An accountant will say that their role is in Xero or Quickbooks. An MD….well the less we say about them the better. In my opinion, social selling is a task that everyone in the business should focus on, even just a little bit to better the overall business opportunity. 

But what is social selling I hear you ask? 

Think about your local farmer for just one second. He plants seeds in the spring, and tends to them over many weeks and months, before harvesting them when they are ready for sale. He does not dig the seeds up every week checking if they’re ready, but lets sunlight, water and other nutrients support the growth of the seeds into the crop they are to become.

If I bring this back into a sales scenario, the seeds are those connections we make on social media, people we meet at events or those people who are clients already.

Hands up if you like being sold to.

This is the purpose of social selling, instead of focusing on the sale now, we add the connections to our network, and we share our experience and our understanding. We show creativity in our posts and deliver knowledge that will benefit our current and future clients. 

As our connections begin to learn more about us and our studios, as we demonstrate relevance, we grow the connection. I can tell you from experience that more often than not, this strategy promotes significant inbound activity. It doesn’t happen overnight, but over months and years, you position yourself and your agency as experts in their chosen field.

This is and always will be akin to my approach to selling. Being the right agency, at the right time, when the client has a need.

And going back to the original point, everyone in the business can do this. They won’t be saying the same thing but working collectively to build relationships and demonstrate the company’s experience. So that when your network needs your services, they think of you.

I get a little bit of flack for saying this. But no matter what your job title is in a creative agency, you must do a little sales.

How to make a success of social selling

  1. Find the right connections
  2. Build relationships
  3. Demonstrate experience
  4. Build your personal brand

Find the right connections

Let’s pause for a moment. If we were sitting here this time next year chatting about the past 12 months for your agency, what would success look like? Who would be your ideal clients? To successfully build our connections we need to know who we want to work with and why.

Build relationships

Something I have to remind myself a lot is that to succeed in social media, you need to be [drumroll] social. And it’s not that I’m not pleasant or friendly. It’s usually that like most of us, we are consumers and not creators. It’s easier to doom scroll through your feed and put a thumbs up at most at someone’s photo of lunch.

Yet to be an effective social seller, we need to foster our community, engage with others and support them where possible in their network.

I have a strict rule. If I pick up my phone and open a social app, I must add one contribution. I’ll never be forced and it will only be something that adds value to someone else’s social presence. But this task alone ensures that I am positively focused on networking.

Demonstrate experience

One of the biggest objections we face as sales professionals in a design environment is the relevance or lack of experience our agency has. More often than not, this is more perception than reality and so being able to demonstrate our experience educates and informs our prospective clients. And because we work in such visual mediums, this is a great way to present our past work engagingly.

Build your personal brand

Historically, the focus on branding stopped squarely at the feet of the company. Today with the majority of our teams being visible on social media, everyone in your business has the opportunity to build their personal brand. If we were to define this, “It is how you want people to see you”. 

When I was writing that statement I laughed a little bit. Way back when I first launched my agency, I remember our first designer saying that I had two personas. One is the social media version and the other is the real-life one. While that wasn’t necessarily a considered focus at that time, how I conducted myself online was a reflection of my business and so the personal and business brands were the same. 

Building a personal brand should be rooted in your direction of travel. What do you care about, what do you want to achieve and how do you want people to perceive you? 

Growing an audience is one of the top skills you can learn and it all starts with your personal brand.

Do you engage in social selling? If so, I’d love to hear any tips you have for making this a success in your design agency. You can share them over on our Move at Pace Youtube Channel.

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