5 Areas of Your Business Operations to Optimize Today
Many of the problems we see agencies face stem from broken or mismanaged operations and business functions. These problems can usually be fixed easily but make all the difference in the effectiveness and success of your agency. You might think that getting more sales or leads will solve your business's problems, but that is only sometimes the case. There are five main areas of your business that you should optimize over time. Sales, Marketing, Fulfillment, Security, and Accounting/Finances. Please continue reading for our advice in each area!
Sales should always be a business's first priority. You need to constantly be working on bringing in new business because you never know what might happen or which of your clients might leave at a moment's notice. Keep selling even as you're putting out other fires. The reason for this is that if you're having problems in other areas of your business, the likelihood of your current clients leaving is high. If your existing clients leave and you don't have new business coming in, you don't have a business anymore.
For sales to function successfully, you must first create a really good offer. Your offer should be one that your team can fulfill easily and successfully. You should set expectations about your offer early on for new clients, so they don't have unreasonable expectations and will be much more likely to stay long-term.
Other things that can help make the sales process run smoothly are having templates written out for every stage of messaging, from prospecting to the proposal and contract. You shouldn't need to create completely custom contracts for every new client because it will eat up your time quickly. Optimizing your sales process will help increase the lifetime value of your customers.
Marketing often ties directly in with sales and is something you should really consider diving into. The two main aspects you should understand are inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is going to contain people who come to you. Whether through referrals or content you post, it's essential to have systems in place to have an inbound marketing strategy. Outbound is much more focused on conversations with people you think you could help.
Agencies often wish they had more sales calls booked and wonder why their calendar isn't filled up. One way to solve this is by focusing more on your marketing. Creating content, asking current clients for referrals, and sending messages to prospects are great ways to book more meetings. Play around with different email templates and keep using the ones that work. When you find things that work, scale them up. We also recommend reaching out to people who you've talked to in the past but never booked a call with. These can make for really easy wins as they have shown interest in your business in the past, and now might be the right time for them to buy.
If you're struggling in your agency, fix your sales and marketing processes first. As long as you have new business coming in, you have a way forward and out of a rut.
One of the biggest operational mistakes we see is people creating systems that are 100% manual — meaning they require a human to do all of the work to make the system run properly. We highly suggest creating automated systems and having a robot do tasks that don't require complex human thought. We recommend this because robots will make fewer mistakes than humans and get the job done much more reliably. It's not only less expensive, but it also prevents things from falling through the cracks. Automation applies to every aspect of your business, but it can be especially helpful in the fulfillment area.
When we say fulfillment, we're talking about everything relating to getting a client that you bring on board to be successful. The first step to this is having a detailed onboarding process. Your onboarding process should completely set up the rest of your engagement with the client to be successful. Whatever you need from the client to provide results successfully should be gathered in the onboarding process and stored in a uniform place that can be found and accessed easily by your team.
You can think about fulfillment in stages. A client will go from the prospecting stage to the onboarding stage to the project/ongoing management phase. The transitions between each stage should be smooth for both your team and the client.
You want to make sure you're protecting the assets of your business. Use different passwords for every website and use complex hard-to-guess passwords. Using a password manager like LastPass can be a great way to secure your assets and ensure you can access all of your accounts safely and securely. Protect yourself the best way you can from digital attacks on your business.
The last piece of our operational puzzle is accounting and finance. You need to know who you have in your pipeline and know what you can expect to earn in the next two to six weeks. Knowing your financial position and having ample cash in the bank for emergencies, ideally, at least two payroll periods will make it easy to pay your employees should something go wrong.
We also recommend making it as easy as possible for clients to pay you. We do auto-billing and put it in our contracts, so it's set up as soon as a client onboards. This way, we don't have a huge accounts receivable balance to worry about. Getting payment upfront ensures the client will pay you, and you have the cash flow to complete their project. Having processes in place to keep your finances in check will help keep everything organized and running smoothly.
Overall, we don't recommend working on optimizing each of these pieces at the same time. Pick one area that's struggling, ideally the area that moves the needle the most, fix that and then move on to the next area. If you have any questions about lead gen, marketing, or operations, feel free to contact Nico at email@example.com!