Even though the term “Sales” is a dirty word in the Ad Agency world, here are a few basic sales tips that will help your new business efforts this year. 1. BE PROACTIVE Referrals and networking are what I consider 'reactive prospecting'… You don't move until an outside source moves you. Proactive prospecting involves the most dreaded duty required of every salesperson: Cold Calling. I have some great tips on making Cold Calling less painful. Let me know if you want them 2. BE PROTECTIVE Desperate times call for desperate measures… from your competitors. Keep your finger on the pulse of your current clients. Contact them, consult them, and coddle them. Do all the crap you did to win their business and they will likely shun any uninvited suitors. 3. BE SMART Don't waste your creative time on mundane tasks like research. Outsource work that doesn't interest you to companies that like to spend hours pouring over raw data for relevant insights (like Ad-ology.net) 4. BE PERSISTENT Lots of people try sales, for a while. If they aren't successful, they quit and move on. Successful salespeople are persistent. Persistent may actually be too modest of a description…Successful salespeople are like pit bulls. It’s almost as if they can't take the hint that you're not interested. They continue the conversation long after the prospect has said "No, thank you". They are not necessarily rude, or even pushy. In fact, they are quite often friendly, approachable and interested in talking about your favorite subject: You. 5. BE PERSISTENT Seriously! Persistence is THAT important. It's human nature to stop asking for business after a few "No's", but a good salesperson will continue to pursue a prospect just past the point of politeness. Try this exercise the next time you're on the hunt… Call on the prospect until you feel it is a complete Dead-End… Then call on them 2 more times! 6. BE RESPONSIBLE Someone has to be in charge of the New Business process. Don't make the mistake of giving shared responsibility to the whole team. Your receptionist and Art Director are not Salespeople… If they were, you'd have hired them to be the New Biz Hunter. 7. BE EDUCATED An overwhelming majority of the Small Business Owners who responded to a recent Ad-ology Research survey said the MOST IMPORTANT factor for any salesperson is to "Know MY business". Tire Manufacturers couldn't care less about your 20+ years of combined experience with Snack Foods, your lofty awards or your sacrificial pro-bono project. Do your homework on THEIR business and walk in the door with a base knowledge of the challenges and opportunities THEY face everyday. 8. BE INTERESTING Which do you think people like better? Hearing about you, or talking about themselves? Being “interesting” is really nothing more than knowing what to say to keep them talking about their business. Do number 7 and number 8 should come naturally. 9. BE THE CLIENT I don’t mean it like, "Be the ball" (Chevy Chase as Ty Webb in Caddyshack). I mean, treat your agency like it's a client. For all the great ideas we have for others, we do a poor job of marketing ourselves. It's the "the shoe-maker's kids go barefoot" syndrome. Start promoting your services with the same zeal you usually reserve for your biggest client. (To gauge how well you're doing in this area, clear your Internet browser's cookies & cache, then Google your agency's name. If you show up in the first few pages, you're doing better than most Small-to-Mid sized agencies I've worked with). 10. BE CAUTIOUS Business will eventually get better and the recession will give way to fruitful days once more. As eager and as desperate you may be for New Business now, keep in mind that you are entering into a long term relationship with the clients you pick up today. If they are not the type of client that you normally work well with, you may consider taking a pass. Don't let a short-term gain turn into a long-term pain.