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Are you getting the attention of your ideal clients? Ever wonder if your sales tactics are working? Wonder what clients think about your sales emails and calls? Most agency salespeople believe in what they sell but are unknowingly going about sales in the worst way, scaring off potential clients. Today’s guest once owned a marketing agency and has moved to the client side with a very successful retail brand he founded. He shares the secret of what sales tactics get his attention and how you can improve your sales to stand out from the competition.

Kelley Thornton is the founder and CEO of Tiege Hanley, a company focused on helping men look and feel amazing with uncomplicated skincare routines. He and his team are always looking for new ways to reach their customers with new marketing for their products. Over the years, his company has worked with several agencies and seen the very best and worst of agency salespeople. He sheds light on why some agencies' sales tactics are not working.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • Why some agency sales tactics are not working.
  • How to improve your sales tactics and convert more prospects into clients.
  • What gets a brand CEO's attention?
  • Why patience can be the best sales tool.



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Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today's episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design, and development agency that has provided white-label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out and get 10% off for the first three months of service.


Kelley founded his agency in 2009 and spent ten years in the grind as CEO. He enjoys looking back and remembering everything they accomplished and how much the agency grew in that time. To him, the agency business is about people but there was a constant struggle to get paid fairly for your expertise. He saw first-hand how difficult it is to scale an agency, which is why he ultimately chose to leave the #agencylife.

Now, as the owner of a big brand, he gets approached by many agencies trying to work with him. In this position, he has witnessed many good and bad sales tactics and strategies. As someone who worked in sales for eighteen years, Kelley says he has the utmost respect for salespeople. However, while some of these strategies stood out to him for very good reasons, there are some sales strategies agencies should stop doing altogether.

Top 4 Agency Sales Tips: Insights from a Brand CEO

1 - Know Who You’re Marketing To and Be Specific

How can you stand out to potential clients for the right reasons? Just like anything else, you have to do your homework and have some idea of who your audience is. A lot of agencies set up email campaigns. Sometimes they take the time to customize them however, most don’t spend the time and energy to really understand their customers.

Even people who do try to understand their ideal customers opt for a spray-and-pray approach because it's more efficient. They send the same email to several people within an organization. However, Kelley believes that is the worst thing to do. If someone in the company finds the email interesting and brings it to someone who also got the email, they both become put off by it. Even worse than that is sending it to multiple people in the same email thread. You will stand out by taking the time to send personalized email communication and research the person whose attention you’re trying to get.

2 - Don’t Make Assumptions or Promises You Can't Keep

Kelley says the worst emails are the ones that make an incredible amount of erroneous assumptions about his business. This includes what the agency thinks it can do for his company. These emails usually contain promises like “We can help you improve your revenue from email by X amount". Kelley immediately trashes this type of email because no one should be making assumptions about how much they can help before they've even had a discussion with him.

Another common tactic he doesn’t like is the “I’ve prepared something very special for you, I just need you to respond to this email to confirm you want me to send it”. Basically, Kelley finds this type of "bait email" very disingenuous. If the salespeople really had something prepared, they would just send it. He has responded to some of these emails only to find the salesperson is not prepared to send the materials they promised.

3-Send Emails That Are Honest, Clear, and Concise

Communicate why you’re reaching out in as few words as possible. Be really precise about what problem you solve and how you’re uniquely capable of solving it. That’s it. A clear and concise email conveys you value the person’s time. Most people won’t even bother to read a long email explaining why you should work with them. Get straight to the point and you'll start converting more prospects.

Being honest will help the prospect also respond with honesty. Kelley says that if he as the client has that problem, he’ll respond. He has felt engaged and compelled to respond when the emails are concise, make suggestions, and maybe ask one question. If he’s interested, he’ll respond to that question. It’s a legitimate way to start a conversation, although it should be specific and not something complicated.

4- Be Courteous in Your Follow-Up 

We all hate the “bump-up” email. Please don’t do that. Or at the very least, don’t just say “Hi. I’m bumping up this email”. At least take the time to restate why you’re sending the email. Some people get creative with these emails and will even send pictures to try to get the prospect’s attention; remember to keep the tone light and don’t take offense if they've decided not to respond. Instead of sending a final email saying something rude like “I guess you’re just not interested in scaling your business,” try leaving the doors open with something like “I sense the timing is not right. We still think we have a great solution for you. I’ll back in X amount of time.”

What Gets a Brand CEO's Attention?

Phone calls are tricky nowadays because you rarely find anyone willing to pick up the phone for an unknown number. However, Kelley occasionally does pick up the phone and he finds he’s more likely to stay on the phone for a longer time when the salesperson gets to the point fast. He’ll ask “How can I help you?” and hopes to get a really succinct answer to assess whether or not he’s interested in the first few minutes of the call.

As someone who enjoys reading. Kelley is more impressed by a direct mail package that includes a letter over fancy boxes people tend to send. In these cases, a handwritten note is even more valuable because it’s such a rare gesture to have. It shows the person is really interested in the client’s business even more so than expensive gifts.

Finally, personalized videos are great for getting a prospect's attention. Of course, just like in text form, they shouldn’t be too long if you want people to watch them. It’s a great way to stand out as long as you make it about the client or their product. You could show you’ve already used their product to start a conversation about how you can help them market them. That’s the type of customization that really moves the needle.

Being Patient May be Your Best Sales Tool 

Sales is a long game and in this day and age, we’re conditioned to getting an instant response. Kelley encourages salespeople to be patient. Just because you struck out on your first attempt to reach a client doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested or won’t engage with you. Most of the time a no just means "not right now." Be patient with your audience. Know who you’re talking to and do not take it personally.

Jason once waited eight months to interview Seth Godin and he came through. Eight months after their initial exchange he reached out again and got the interview he wanted for the podcast. The wait was definitely worth it.

Two or three times a year is a good measure of how many times to reach out to prospects without becoming a nuisance. Sending multiple emails won’t help wear them down. That’s not how it works. Two or three emails are enough to determine if this is something they need right now.

Do You Want to Transform Your Agency from a Liability to an Asset?

If you want to be around amazing agency owners who can see what you may not be able to see and help you grow your agency, go to Agency Mastery 360.  Our agency growth program helps you take a 360-degree view of your agency and gain mastery of the 3 pillar systems (attract, convert, scale) so you can create predictability, wealth, and freedom.

Direct download: Top_4_Agency_Sales_Tactics_That_Work__Insights_from_a_Brand_CEO.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST