Smart Agency Podcast: The #1 Digital Agency Podcast for Social Media, SEO, PPC & Creative Agencies

Do you feel stuck in a rut? Overwhelmed or uncertain? You are not alone! A lot of agency owners feel the same way. If you need help finding clarity or getting focused, check out this episode. This is the perfect time of year to look at where you’re at and where you’re headed. Get re-energized and meet your goals in the new year.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 3 characteristics you need to build a successful agency.
  • Finding clarity in your agency life.
  • How to find and keep your focus.
  • #1 thing holding you back.

Today’s guest is Aaron Walker, successful businessman and life coach at the third business he’s built, View from the Top. Through his mastermind, Iron Sharpens Iron, Aaron helps people be their best selves and how to carry that into their professional lives. Aaron’s passion in coaching and today he shares with us some advice and nuggets of knowledge on how to take that first step towards clarity and success.

3 Characteristics Necessary To Build A Successful Agency

Lots of us who are out there trying to build our agency and make a name for ourselves are creators/developers, not maintainers/managers.

This can be where the problem is: you can’t get clarity.

Today we have more opportunities than ever before. It paralyzes us and clouds our judgement. The overwhelm can even cause a leadership crash.

That is why you need to have:

  1. Determination, Tenacity, Grit to persevere.
  2. Be Organized and Intentional to lead.
  3. Most importantly, you need FOCUS.

With that focus you also need consistency. If you aren’t willing to devote two years to your venture, don’t even start it.

Stay focused on the long game and do what you set out to do. Every. Single. Day.

Aaron shares a little phrase his mom used to say to him, that he hated, but now is part of his mantra: “Can’t couldn’t do it, and Could did it all.

You know, inspiration isn’t forever, it’s really about finding your purpose -- that thing that gets you out of bed every morning. That’s what is going to keep you going.

How To Find Clarity In Your Agency Life

For entrepreneurs, a lot of our clarity is muddled by constantly looking over our shoulder, wondering if we should have done that other thing instead. Stop worrying if the grass is greener on the other side and realize the grass is greener where you water it.

Realize that you will never get to a point where you will feel a sense of security, so stop looking for that. Instead, fill yourself with confidence.

The first step is -- you gotta launch. Whatever it is - just do it. As my friend Ian says, “Version done is better than version none.” He’s so right!

You need to realize that it’s never going to be perfect, so just take that first step and go from there. You will figure it out.

Once you find your purpose, it will help bring you clarity. Your purpose will become the thing that really drives you, steers your ship and it’s guides your decision-making. When you start doing this, then you will find your significance.

How to Find and Keep Your Focus

First, if your focus is on making money, then it’s not going to keep you focused long-term. You need a purpose for that! Sure, there’s definitely a portion of our focus that is tied to money. If it weren’t of any importance, we’d be giving everything away for free.

It’s not wrong to want to make money, just make sure you own your money and your money doesn’t own you.

You can, however, use money and finances as a measurement tool, not based on how much you make, but on the fact that if people are paying for the products/services you provide, then you’re helping people and are providing a valuable resource. Besides, if you gave your stuff away for free, nobody would pay attention to you.

It’s the same thing if you underprice yourself. By underpricing, you will cause people to undervalue what you provide; thinking what you have to offer isn’t very good because it’s too cheap.


Direct download: How_to_Find_Your_Focus_and_Clarity_to_Grow_A_Successful_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT

Having a hard time scaling your agency? Finding it difficult to stop doing it all, all by yourself? Thinking of building an agency team but don’t know where to begin? Learn how to find and hire the right people for your agency and how to set them up for immediate success.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • How to avoid common pitfalls of a virtual agency team.
  • How to find top agency talent that fits with your core values.
  • What to look for when hiring and building your team.

Today I was excited to talk to Ralph Burns, founder and CEO of Antares Enterprises, Inc. As one of the premier Facebook direct response marketers in the industry, he has built an agency around an interesting business model. Ralph’s agency team is entirely virtual, and everyone is certified in his agency’s processes before they even start on the job! Learning things the hard way, or the long way, Ralph shares how he overcame challenges by building and leading a successful team.

How to Overcome Common Pitfalls of a Virtual Agency Team

The biggest challenge, and one where it’s easy to get stuck, is getting past the "1-man model" and allowing yourself be OK not doing everything yourself.

Once you get someone on board with you and you’re able to realize that you both bring unique abilities to grow the agency in different directions, from there you can begin the talent search.

The hardest part about bringing on virtual talent is:

  • Teaching them the ways of your agency.
  • Building systems and documenting processes.
  • Passing on the knowledge so someone can duplicate what you’ve been doing.

Once you get through that, you will be able to scale up from there. 1-on-1 Method - personally train the new employee, be in daily contact, coaching and mentoring them. While this can be effective, it also takes a long time and can be inefficient. Mentorship - utilize your current staff to build out documents such as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to utilize moving forward with future new hires. SOPs are so important and should really become the basis for everything you do.

Documenting can be painful, but it’s the first step you have to take.

Listen, without SOPs -- you’re SOL :)

A Unique Method for Discovering Agency Talent

It is important to have an educational platform on what you do in the agency...

Ralph actually took it a step further and decided to use his agency’s certification program as a pool for finding ideal candidates to hire as his agency grows. Get this...

Their rigorous 5-day training course is a stand alone program for individuals who want to get certified in Facebook Ads, with a practical test at the end. With access to the test results, this gives Ralph and his team a way to identify the best of the best and has opened up a new avenue for potential agency talent candidates.

Essentially, these people are trained on the agency’s processes and SOP, which eliminates a lot of the learning curve of a typical new hire, which could take another 3-5 months. Now, candidates are ready to roll and can get acclimated much faster to working with actual paying customers.

The beauty of this unique recruitment system is that they know people's intentions because they are paying for the training and know how to do things, right when they start!

Plus as an agency, you owe it to your clients to have people who not only know how to run Facebook ads (whatever your speciality), but also know how to do it the way you do it - within your systems, inside your agency. Because ultimately, your clients are paying you for your expertise, including those systems you’ve developed.

What’s the #1 Account Manager Dilemma?

We all know this story... you have a great account manager on a large account and something happens that takes them out of commission, which means you and your clients are screwed.

The solution? Large accounts, those that are unwieldy or have a lot of moving parts can be co-managed. You have a lead account manager and a secondary account manager.

Another solution is to create smaller teams within your account management department. Have these teams meet once a week, even if they’re virtual, and talk through issues going on with their accounts. That way, if an account only has one manager, there are still two or three other managers familiar with that client.

What to Look for When Hiring Agency Talent

When you are in the process of recruiting agency talent people, don’t just go after the folks that are the best with a technical skill.

Consider your agency’s culture and core values. Then think of some key characteristics that are important to have. Technical skill can be taught, but culture and value is either there or not.

Things to consider in your recruitment efforts:

  • Able to collaborate and innovate
    • Collaboration is huge, especially if virtual.
  • Be solution-oriented
    • Hire people to solve problems for your clients.
    • Problems are ok, but need to also work on solutions.
  • Hungry and humble
    • Have the drive to get better and improve without a cocky attitude.

ALSO: Consider creating your own agency manifesto as a vision to guide your decisions and get you through the tough times. It takes time to create, but it will become your compass and worth the investment of time.


Direct download: How_to_Build_an_Effective_Agency_Virtual_Team.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT

Do you feel like your agency sales needs to grow beyond you, the owner? Are you having a hard time recruiting and training successful salespeople? Then it’s time to start putting the right systems in place in order to build a scalable agency sales team.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 2 things to be aware of before a sales hire.
  • Is it the right time to hire for agency sales?
  • Key traits to look for when hiring a salesperson.
  • How long until a new salesperson is successful?
  • Top 7 take away tips.

Today I got to talk with Wayne Herring, owner of Herring Coach, where he specializes in coaching and consulting business owners who are looking to scale their agency sales team. Wayne is the guy who teaches business owners to hire, train, hold accountable, and basically build their sales team. Today he’s giving us tips on how you can do the same for your agency.

2 Important Things To Be Aware Of Before You Hire

  1. Owner’s advantage. Even if you aren’t stating it when you’re selling, if you’re the owner and you’re selling - you have an advantage. Remember that your salespeople will not have this advantage.
  2. There are very few superhero salespeople. It is unrealistic to think you’re going to hire someone who is going to come in and kill it, right off the bat. Don’t look for it, you may never find it.

Is It The Right Time To Hire?

It’s hard to know when it’s the right time to hire for agency sales, as all agencies are in different situations.

But, I can tell you when not to:

DON’T hire your first sales rep if you’re already overwhelmed. If you can’t spend time with a new sales hire and you’re not prepared to invest a significant amount of time into their on-boarding, coaching, role playing, etc. then you aren’t ready to hire.

DON’T hire a sales rep if you don’t have systems in place. If you're not prepared to hire, train and retain good salespeople you're setting up for failure.

What You Need In Place If It Is The Right Time To Hire:

You need to have a strong foundation, including a definition of who you are as an agency and where you are going. You need to know this so you can give direction and keep everyone on the same page.

Have a set audience for them to sell to. Every business is not your ideal customer, define this for your new salesperson and set them up for success.

Start small... Give them one thing, one goal, to focus on. Don’t overwhelm by throwing the whole shebang at them.

Getting someone oriented and quickly on-boarding them to sell a small first step (such as your foot in the door offer) does a couple of things:

  • It helps to prove if this person is going to make it within your agency.
  • It helps them feel successful quickly and give them a win to start off.

Traits to Look for When Hiring for Agency Sales

Again, don’t go looking for a sales superhero. Instead, help them grow into one.

Another trip-up can be hiring based on gut, without really defining the type of person you are looking for. Think ahead about qualities you need, and don’t completely focus on likability and personality, this can get you stuck.

Pay attention to how they interview. Are they running the show? Are they asking a lot of questions? A good salesperson will do both these things! A lot of times we feel like we need to sell our agency to the candidate by telling them how wonderful it is. This is where there needs to be a shift in mindset...

Treat yourself and the interview process as a prospect you would want them to go after. Let them run the conversation, see how they lead and if they follow-up. Let the process demonstrate how they would work with a prospective client. Then decide if there's a fit and a future.

Salesperson recruiting is a marketing activity. It is something that deserves serious attention.

How Long Until a New Salesperson is Successful?

Everyone needs a little time to prove their worth, but for agency sales it usually depends on two things:

  1. The length of your sales cycle.
  2. Past experience and observations.

If you have a long sales cycle then you might benefit from creating “ramp up" report, which breaks down the early steps of the sales process, (contacts, meetings, audits, etc.) and charts them in a grid format and plots progress over time. With this data, eventually you’ll discover that salesperson’s “ramp up curve” which indicates whether they’re following a path you know is going to lead to long term success.

Measuring activity can tell you a lot. If they don’t start off coming out the gate fast and hard, it’s a tell tale sign they’re going to struggle.

Be sure to avoid “happy ears” or overly optimistic situations. I’ve been guilty of hanging on to someone because of all the big deals they have “in the works” but never actually come to fruition. See things for what they are and measure the activity.

Ask your salespeople the questions: who, what, where why, and when… “What’s the next step?” or “When’s that going to happen?” When you’re consistently coaching it will become abundantly clear whether they’re going to be successful.

Top 7 Take Aways

When you’re going to start building a sales team:

  1. Remember owner’s advantage and there are no sales superheroes.
  2. Clearly define work that needs to be done.
  3. Clearly define the role, key accountabilities.
  4. Be willing to work hard through the entire hiring phase and have a process for phone calls, interviews, assessment, etc.
  5. Be prepared to spend time to onboard intentionally, track the activity/progress, and help sell the smallest engagement first.
  6. Using a CRM isn’t optional.
  7. Understand the importance of coaching and role playing, even if it’s uncomfortable.

Need Guidance and Support to Grow Your Agency 3X Faster?

Are you overwhelmed by all the information out there on various ways to grow your agency? Do you want direction on how you can grow your agency faster and easier?

Then you’re in luck! I created an innovative mentorship called Agency University.

Agency University is a program which provides the 1-on-1 mentorship and ongoing support that is crucial to the success of your agency. Click here to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Direct download: Smart_Agency_Master_Class_Podcast_-_Wayne_Herring.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT