Starting and running a successful sales agency is an exciting process. Getting your first few clients – and more importantly, doing a great job for them – is an important milestone for any agency owner.
Once you’ve established a track record of helping clients get results, you will likely start experiencing steady growth. When you reach this point, you’ll inevitably start thinking about how to scale your agency and serve significantly more clients.
However, successfully scaling your agency takes more than just getting more clients, hiring extra people, and hoping for the best. You need to have a clear vision and growth targets for your business, and prepare for that growth before it occurs.
In this article, I’ll be sharing 4 steps you can take to help you scale your agency, based on my own experience from scaling an outbound sales agency as well as hundreds of conversations with clients and agency owners. By implementing these steps, you’ll be better positioned to scale your growth without sacrificing client experience.
Create internal processes that enable you to scale
For a small, tight-knit agency, you can usually get away with just doing the work. Hey, as long as the client’s happy, right? If you want to scale though, you’ll need to think just as much about how you do the work.
For example, in smaller agencies, it’s not uncommon for each team member to use their own favorite tools to do their work. Likewise, they may have different ways of carrying out tasks.
Unfortunately, as your agency grows, having everyone using different software makes it difficult to have full visibility into how they’re performing. Too many different processes make it difficult to accurately measure the effectiveness of the work done.
While some agencies may fear that having set procedures in place will stifle creativity and kill the ‘magic,’ when done correctly they can actually help your team spend less time on the repeatable parts of the process. This in turn gives them more space to focus on delivering a high-quality service.
More importantly, they’re essential if you want to effectively scale. Prime processes you’ll want to document include:
- Acquiring and onboarding new clients: How are you bringing in new clients? What information do you need to collect? What documents need to be created? What tools will you use to manage new clients?
- Carrying out key tasks: What’s the step-by-step process for your main agency work? Who is responsible for managing the work? What tools are used? How are problems handled?
- Delivering client work: How will you manage quality? Who will deliver the work? In what format? How will you handle requested changes?
- Tracking results: What metrics will you use to track performance? How will you use results to improve future projects?
Having these systematized procedures allow your team to carry out key tasks faster and more effectively, while also making it easier to measure and improve performance.
Even just the act of taking the time to document your processes will provide an excellent opportunity to identify any obstacles or inefficiencies that have crept into your agency’s workflow, cutting out unnecessary steps and streamlining your work. On the contrary, trying to optimize an undocumented or ever-changing process is practically impossible.
Manage communication effectively
When you first started your agency, with just a small team and a handful of clients, communication was easy. You probably didn’t even think about it; if someone needed to know something, you sent a message and got on with your day.
In order to scale your agency, you can’t rely on communication just ‘happening.’ As with the other processes we’ve already discussed, you need a clear documented plan for how communication will take place, with a focus on two areas:
Communication within your teams. How will you ensure important information is shared with the right person? Just as importantly, how will you ensure your team isn’t overwhelmed with unnecessary messages? You should have a single source of truth (SSOT) for procedures and best practices so that you don’t have to explain them every time someone on your team has a question.
Communication with your clients. What information will you share with your clients? Who will be responsible for that? What communication channels will you use? Managing expectations. Balancing client expectations without putting too much strain on your team can be challenging, but making use of templates and automation can make it easier.
Have the right people in place
When people first think of scaling, they typically jump to the idea of hiring new talent. As mentioned though, you can’t just throw people at the problem and expect it to be okay.
Still, if you’re going to grow, you’ll inevitably need to expand your headcount at some point. That’s why it’s important to have your processes and procedures in place before bringing on new people, so you can onboard them properly. For many, bringing on a virtual assistant is an ideal way to start streamlining their operations.
Even with training, it’s vital to bring on the right people. The last thing you want to do is damage your hard-won reputation with a poor-performing employee. This is particularly true for any management or leadership positions. Part of scaling involves accepting that you can no longer micro-manage every little detail, so you’ll need to build a team you can trust to do the job without you looking over their shoulder.
Become a specialist in your market
When you first start out as an agency, it’s tempting to take on any jobs that come your way. As you scale, you might still find it difficult to turn down clients. After all, how are you meant to grow if you’re turning away work?
However, you need to focus your efforts in order to scale. By being crystal clear on your positioning—what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for—you can concentrate on optimizing your service.
What’s your elevator pitch? What makes you special? Why should people go to your agency, rather than using an inhouse team or going directly to a freelancer? What kind of clients can benefit the most from your service?
When you’re clear on the answers to these questions, you can position your agency as trusted and reliable experts in your chosen field. Your messaging will be clearer, enabling you to attract and retain more of your ideal clients in order to support your growth.
This strategy will help you stand out from the competition and scale effectively.
Scaling Successfully Requires A Strong Foundation
Scaling an agency is an exciting process, but rapid growth in any business can create more problems if you’re not prepared for that growth. By having documented procedures, clear communication channels, the right team, and strong positioning, you can overcome the challenges and effectively scale your agency to new heights.