Growing Business Organically From Existing Clients, Pt. One

In my previous posts on new business, I stated that as agency owner/leader you must take prime responsibility for growing new business and encouraged you to embrace the Account Growth Mindset.

But you cannot do it alone. As with nearly all important agency goals, you must have nearly everyone in the agency playing some role in building business. This is even more critical when it comes to growing business organically from existing clients.

There are a number of ways to motivate your team to participate in this critical endeavor.  Here are five:

1.  Explain the link between business and career growth: Everyone wants to propel their career paths, in particular Millennials. Explain to them that PR firms are like sharks: They must keep moving or die. For most agencies, individuals can’t be promoted simply because they’re doing a great job: There must be more assignments/billings on which to work. Recommend that rather than waiting for others to grow the business, they can put their career on the fast track by helping the agency win more business organically.

2.  Reward them where they can feel it: In their pocketbooks! It’d be nice to think that staffers inherently understand that they succeed when the agency does, and that would be motivation enough. The reality is individuals are motivated by self-interest. To that end, if you want to grow business organically, connect at least a portion of future salary increases to provable business increases. Even better, do the same with merit bonuses. This is a risk-free way to share the wealth with those who’ve made the biggest effort and had the most success in this area. It will also encourage more of the same.

3.  Be specific: Think about the role you want each staffer to play in growing income from existing accounts and provide specific, measurable performance goals. During reviews, provide constructive, actionable feedback and let the staffer know in what ways you’re prepared to help them achieve these goals going forward.

4.  Eliminate the new business boogeyman: Many staffers seem to think that if they focus on new business, they’re not paying enough attention to their demanding clients. If that’s the case with your teams, remind them that you’re not discussing the pursuit of new clients–though I believe that should be part of their jobs–but in building business from clients with whom they’re already working. This starts with providing five-star client service, surprising and delighting, constantly beating expectations and more.

5.  Celebrate success: Celebrate every win from existing clients that results from a staffer or team’s efforts. A handwritten thank-you note, a company-wide email, an impromptu salute with champagne or cupcakes, or some other activity in line with your firm’s approach to celebrating will illustrate how important you consider these initiatives and encourage more of this behavior. And going back to point 2, unless you’ve recently awarded salary increases or merit bonuses, a small spot bonus or gift certificate wouldn’t hurt either.

There are a number of  ways you can help your team increase their chances of growing the business; I’ll cover them in my next post.

Meanwhile, I’d welcome your comments on how you motivate your team to help grow business from existing clients.

Ken Jacobs

I’m the principal of Jacobs Communications Consulting, which helps public relations and communications agencies and organizations grow and manage business, and enhance staff performance, leadership and communications skills.We do so via consulting, training, and coaching. To learn more, please click on the “Jacobs Communications Consulting” tab on the top.

2 comments
MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

Ken, I love the way you express the importance of clear and specific communication. Not only does this approach provide a transparent view into business goals in which everyone can engage, but it also feeds the need to know. Great stuff!

KensViews
KensViews

@MimiMeredith Your comments always make me sound smarter than I am! Seriously, you've captured a thought that reflects one of my key philosophies of agency management and leadership: The more transparent you are, the more trust you build. Build trust, and you'll have more followers.