Recently I spoke at a Drum Network Chapter event on the subject of influence. I asked the attendees to suggest questions that they’d like me to cover and this is what they put forward. They asked how do we:

  • Sell what we do without appearing ‘salesy’
  • Differentiate ourselves in an ever-growing market
  • Increase awareness of our offering, elevate our profile in crowded market
  • Balance networking, speaking and other business development activity
  • Decide where to network and how to go about it
  • Gain recognition of our expertise beyond our niche and maintain our niche
I’m going to share my thoughts on the three that attracted the most attention in the Q&A session that followed (1, 2 and 3). If you’d like to discuss any of the others, do get in touch.

  • How to sell without appearing ‘salesy’.

What is ‘salesy’ behaviour? If you know what salesy sounds, looks and feels like to you, then you can start to create your idea of the opposite. And then behave according to that.

So what might someone be doing, thinking, feeling to be described as ‘salesy?’ here are some ideas to get you started:

Foot in the door, begging, manipulative, fake, turns us into a commodity, ego driven, extrovert, talkers, persistent, talking ‘at’, getting a meeting, showing a portfolio, ‘us’.”

And what about the opposite? Here are some ideas….

“Support discovery, facilitate thinking, about the client, rapport and trust, collaborative, curious, listeners, open, flexible, passion for client, talking with, insight and discovery for your client.”

So here’s my three step suggestion for how to sell without being ‘salesy:’

  • Make your list of salesy ideas, actions and behaviours.
  • Then write down the opposite.
  • And then work on developing your behaviour so that it matches that second list.
  • How do we differentiate ourselves in an ever-growing market

When it comes to the agency landscape, does it ever seem to you that everyone says broadly the same thing and therefore everyone looks the same? If so, why is this the case? Are they really the same? Of course not. How could they be. So what’s the problem?

The problem could be that everyone is talking about what they do.

What’s the alternative?  You could start with why.

This is the idea, developed by Simon Sinek, that you should start with why you do what you do instead of what you do. Because it’s when you get to understand why you do what you do and what’s important about that, that’s when you will find your purpose. And when you can articulate that, you will be more easily able to step away from the crowd and stand out. You will also step towards your perfect client. And they will step towards you. You will find each other on purpose.

  • How do we increase awareness of our offering and elevate our profile in crowded markets?

One way to increase awareness of your offer is to do things to do things that the ‘crowd’ doesn’t do.  Here are three, you may be doing one, some or all of them. Think of them as steps. Start by:

  1. Having real conversations with your clients (start with your current clients). Have them, off project, away from a pitch. Make them just about what’s now and what’s the future. Then…
  1. Start writing. Use what you learn from your conversations and turn that into insight that you can share with your clients and get published. There are online journals crying out for great content. Then, when you know your stuff…
  1. Start speaking and presenting. Find the events where your clients go, find who organises them and send them your idea for a talk and why their delegates would pay to hear it. Associations are a good starting point for these opportunities.

Why does this work?  Here’s why….

At every stage of this, there are fewer and fewer people doing it.

Not because it’s impossible.

But because it takes effort, discipline and hard work.

And lots of people don’t want to put that in to achieving their goals. So they adjust their goals downwards accordingly or find explanations as to why they can’t do it. But they could if they really wanted to.

So what about you? What’s your next step?Are these your questions?

If you’d like to discuss the featured themes or any other issues that are important to the future of your agency, you can contact me @JohnDScarrott, or find out more about me here: