How to increase your sales pipeline in 2021

We kicked off the new series of The New World of New Biz to talk about how to increase your sales pipeline in 2021 with a stella line-up! Our Founder Katie Street was joined by:

Will Sargeant, The Chief of Business Development at AND Digital

Matt King,Founder ofSales Change

Andrew Nicholson, Co-Founder and CEO of Kulea 

Peter Czapp, Co-Founder of The Wow Company and The Agency Collective

At the beginning of the webinar, we welcomed our special guest Peter Czapp, the man behind the famous BenchPress report. He said that 2020 was a landmark year for businesses and the world, and shared some really insightful early headlines from this year’s BenchPress report including:

  • Agencies are viewing 2020 as positive experience
  • 26% described it as their best year ever
  • 32% managed to grow their teams
  • 79% recruited in 2020
  • Confidence has returned to pre-covid levels
  • 58% agencies have one single client representing 20% or more of their fee income
  • Agencies that are most heavily reliable on a client, are the most profitable, so make sure you bank that money!

To take part in the survey fill in this quick survey monkey and all the results will be shared with those that take part which will help you shape your plans for the year ahead,

Be clear with your proposition

Katie then started the panel discussion with Will Sargeant, The Chief of Business Development at AND Digital and he spoke about how the agency had 100 people in it 4 years ago and has now grown to over 800 people. In 2019 AND Digital were named the 25th fastest growing company in Europe. Will spoke about AND Digital’s unique proposition, where they are enablers, making themselves obsolete by training the teams to build and develop the digital technologies.

Will spoke about how their core proposition hasn’t changed and used the analogy of the hedgehog and the fox. “The fox gets excited by shinning new things, whereas the hedgehog knows where it’s going, I see a lot of fox’s not many hedgehogs” said Will, and this has helped the agency grow.

Will also said that he’s “never been as positive going into a year as I am now”, suggesting that the market is there, and where AND Digital’s focus is, and their proposition helps differentiate them. Katie said that AND Digital have been brave enough with their proposition to help clients get to a point where they can work independently.

The cost of finding new business

One of the questions submitted to the panel, was ‘what percentage revenue gets reinvested in Sales & Marketing’. Will responded saying that their cost of sales is surprisingly low. They have 15-20 people in the BD team, in charge of bringing in 100 clients this year, with the cost of BD being about 7% and the cost of marketing about 2-3%.

Will said that they rely on relationships to build new business from their ‘ANDy’s’, only get one in bound every two weeks from the website. Will suggested referrals and relationships are a cost-effective way to win new business. Their referral scheme across the business applies to those under Exec level to reward them, but most want to help their colleagues. He reported that they get roughly £2k upfront for an introduction and another £3k if they win a new client.

Differentiate yourself and add value

Matt King, Founder of Sales Change took to the virtual stage, to talk about what tactics help him stand out. “Think about what they’re going to get out of your outreach, generate some value. When reaching out to people on social, emails etc compliment them on their business, it’s like a puzzle, find your place in their business”

Katie agrees, the wrong approach is to be all about the agency and clients you’ve won, Matt followed by saying you need to ask yourself “so what?” about anything you are sending people before you send it to them.

Andrew Nicholson, Co-Founder and CEO of Kulea then added, “It’s all about value, value prop, value content, added value” and be aware of what’s in it for them when you are messaging them. Andrew went on to say that you need to differentiate yourself with your value proposition as there is a lot of noise out there with the same message so think about what you do that adds value, that is different to everyone else. It might be that you need to change the business, not necessarily the messaging to add value. It’s crucial to understand the customer, and what their pain is. “Unless you understand this, it’s all pointless” he said.

Katie agrees “you have to have a value proposition that speaks to your audience” often it’s the business model that needs to change, and it’s more important now than ever to do this and understand what your audience needs. Katie suggested that agencies need to evolve and change, ‘if you don’t you could get in a tricky position, if you do and it works you could find yourself like AND Digital!”

Define your services and market them effectively

Most companies are having to launch new products, services, IT infrastructure and “2021 is great from a business point of view, and there are a lot of opportunities especially for agencies” suggested Katie. However, once you have a value proposition, you need to market your value proposition properly.

The panel highlighted that agencies need to adapt in this order:

  • Develop business strategy including looking at your market and audience
  • Change what needs to be changed within the business
  • Develop value proposition
  • Develop a marketing strategy
  • Develop a content strategy
  • Outreach emails with assets that are helpful and add value

Using LinkedIn as an outreach tool

Someone asked the panel if they’d tried third party outreach tools, and whether they’d has success. The consensus was it depends where the potential client is in the buying cycle – sometimes the direct approach is great if they are about to buy. Every client is different, and every client responds to sales techniques in different ways. However, Matt said “don’t blindly outreach on LinkedIn, you have to have tactics in a plan, and use every single one for the buying cycle”.

Katie suggested the following platforms are good for mining data on LinkedIn:, and Lusha. However recently after speaking with many brand representatives, Katie said that they love LinkedIn from a connection and content point of view but hate the LinkedIn inbox. Katie said LinkedIn as a publishing platform is really good, but you’ll get better engagement via email thanks LinkedIn.

How you can use Instagram to generate new business leads

Matt from Sales Change has grown Instagram @saleschange from 100, to over 8k with the aim of getting to 50k by the end of 2021. He shared some top tips of how to grow your business account and generate leads:

  • Consistency is the name of the game with Instagram
  • Be personable on stories
  • Show behind the scenes
  • Show the human side behind your brand
  • Be creative

Matt also shared how he develops good helpful content:

  • All from personal experience
  • All posts value based, something to take away from it
  • All have a Call to Action (CTA)
  • Ask questions on stories
  • Audience are a part of his channel and help grow it

Katie said, “look at what people are asking you on your social posts and build your content around this”. She also said that agencies should ‘show people’, don’t be an agency with smoke and mirrors, and don’t be scared to be giving, as we have to be an open world, especially now. Matt agreed it’s an indirect way of you showing what you’re about, and how you can help to drive new business, “look I can do it, come and join me and we can do it”.

Top tips for email outreach

Having an Marketing automation expert on the panel, Katie asked Andrew to share his top tips for email outreach:

  • Add value
  • More hands-on advice
  • Be human
  • Be interesting
  • Don’t send HTML emails
  • Personal outreach is so much more effective
  • Combing tools, automate your processes
  • Send nurturing outreach emails

Final hints to increase your sales pipeline and generate leads

The session was then rounded off by asking all the panellists for their top tips to help increase sales pipelines.

Will said “Who knows who, ask for introductions, say we’re looking to grow our business, can you put us in touch with anyone”.

Andrew highly recommends the iPhone test, if it can’t be written on an iPhone, your email is too long.

Matt said to use value posts, seamless 10 slide carousels with punchy messages. Each one of those swipes is classed as an interaction so makes your content super valuable, and gets your company seen.

If you weren’t able to make the webinar or you’d like to watch it back, here’s the video recording:

The New World of New Biz webinars take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 11am, you can sign up here for free to join the next one.

By Michaela Dudfield
4th February 2021
5 minute read