Best Business Development Programs

Episode 17: Best Business Development Programs, with Jody Sutter

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Best Business Development Programs? Discover best business development programs  and drive success by following our effective techniques.

Jody Sutter is the owner of The Sutter Company, a new business consultancy that advises small agencies on organizing and operationalizing their growth strategy. She started The Sutter Company after more than two decades of running business development teams for agencies, large and small, and spanning a diverse list of disciplines. They’ve included R/GA, OMD, Havas Media, and The VIA Agency.

Best business development program? Jody frequently speaks at leading industry events around the world such as Traffic & Conversion Summit, INBOUND, the ICA’s Agency Transformation Summit, The Drum’s Pitch Perfect new business conference, and is a featured instructor in the 4As Learning & Development program.

Her book, A Small Agency’s Guide to Winning New Business: 8 Steps to Winning More of the Right Kinds of Clients, is now available on


What you will learn in this episode is about the best business development programs:

  • How to create an environment for winning
  • How to build the best business development programs for biz dev growth that aligns with the ground we claim
  • What are the best ways to go from abstract to tactical in biz dev
  • How to become equipped with a strong story for our right-fit clients
  • Why it’s beneficial to get in touch with vulnerabilities
  • 8 practical steps to eliminate feast or famine in biz dev



Best Business Development Programs: Full Episode Transcript


Welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI, and my team and I created this podcast specifically for you. So, if you’re an agency owner, a business coach, or a strategic consultant and looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change, that seems to be our world’s reality. Well, you’re in the right place. Do you want proven strategies for attracting a steady stream of well-prepared fit prospects into your sales pipeline? Yep. We’re gonna cover that. You wanna learn how to step away from the sea of competitors, so you actually stand out and own the ground you’re standing on. Yeah. We’re gonna cover that too. You want to future-proof your business so you can navigate the next challenges that come your way, while absolutely, we’re going to help you there, I promise you each episode of this podcast will contain valuable insights into tangible examples of best practices, not theory, from thought leaders, experts, owners who have done exactly what you’re working hard to do.


So I want you to think practical and tactical, never any fluff. Each of our guests has built a position of authority and then monetized that position by claiming their ground, growing their audience, nurturing leads, and converting sales, but all the while doing it by being helpful. So every time someone from their audience turned around there, they were with a helpful answer to an important question. So their prospects never, ever, ever felt like a prospect. I also promise you every strategy we discuss and every tool we recommend will be shared in full transparency in each episode so you can plant your flag of authority, you can claim your ground, as I said, and fill your sales pipeline with a steady stream of right-fit clients. Okay? So I am super excited for you to meet our very special guest expert today, Jody Sutter.


Learn more about the best business development programs by listening to our second interview with Jody Sutter: Win New Business by Asking the Right Questions


Best Business Development Programs: Jody Sutter’s Introduction


So, if you’re meeting Jody for the first time, she’s the owner of the Sutter Company, a new business consultancy that advises small agencies and marketing services firms on how to organize and operationalize their growth strategy. She’s frequently at industry-leading events around the world, such as Traffic and Conversion Smit Inbound, the ICAS Agency, Transformation Smit, excuse me. As an instructor within the four A’s Learning and Development program, she’s also the author of the book A Small Agency’s Guide to Winning New Business, eight Steps to Winning More of the Right Kinds of Clients, and Winning More of the Right kind of Clients is where Jody and I are gonna focus our time and attention today, because we all know what it feels like to onboard the wrong fit client, right? They walk in the door, or maybe they are a referral.


And because you and your team rely on referrals instead of having a robust business development strategy in place, when your sales pipeline is a little dry, it becomes super tempting to take on that referral as your next new client. And you know, in your gut, you can feel it. All of the Spidey sense is telling you, Don’t do it. But we’ve all done it. We all have done it. Why? Well, and I will argue it’s because you don’t have a plan. You don’t have a process. You don’t have a strategy like Jody’s eight steps in place so you can consistently win the right kind of clients. And that’s what Jody and I want for you as a result of listening to this conversation: that you will have the courage because it does take some courage to put a system into place. And because of what Jodi shares with you today, you’ll begin to see a world where RightFit clients find you without resistance using one of her words, and you have a sales pipeline filled with clients who willingly also use one of her words, pay your premium fees because they’re delighted to have the opportunity.


Yes, delighted to have the opportunity to work with you because they see you as an expert. Okay? So, to help break the cycle of feast or famine, biz dev, welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast, Jody.


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Insights from a Seasoned Strategist


Well, I am honored to be able to have this conversation with you, and when, as I mentioned in the Green room before we started recording, I saw you and Tom Martin at the Build a Better Agency Smit in Chicago just a few short weeks ago, was off the charts. I mean, you shared your smarts generously, and I thought, okay, we really need to continue this conversation in front of our audience because it was really, really great. The panel discussion that you and Tom had that Drew facilitated. It was just really awesome. So thank you.


Thank you. I really enjoyed doing it, too. What I also loved about being there with Tom is that he’s such a great example of an agency owner who has figured out the right growth strategy for him. And he’s sort of ex in some ways extraordinary because he is so embraced. But it just goes to show that I think any agency owner has the ability to develop a new business strategy that they can that they can feel comfortable with. yeah. So it was really nice to have an agency owner to riff off of in that panel. And that was a great conference. So quick plug for Build a Better Agency Smit and I think there’s even early bird pricing for 2023. So go register people. There indeed is drew, drew would not mind the plug. So go to agency management think it’s BABA smit if I remember correctly. And you’re right, there is, there is actually early bird pricing, but but it was awesome. And, one of the reasons why the smit was awesome is because people like you, people like Tom, the others, whether that’s breakouts or from the main stage, whatever, approach the audience in the exact same way all the attendees is what I meant to say in the exact same way, being generous, being thoughtful, sharing your smarts, not holding anything back. I mean, you guys did that in spades, and it was just awesome.


Let’s learn more about the best business development programs. Okay. Before we dive into the barrage of questions that will be set in your way, take us behind the curtain here. Yeah. Beyond the bio, give us a little bit more context about your path and journey, and then we’ll dive in. Right?


To introduce the best business development programs, I am an I’m a career business development person. So I started out, I’m probably gonna reveal my age a little bit, but I started out working for production companies, commercial production, production companies, and representing directors. Okay. selling to ad agencies. So we had our stable of directors, and it’s a competitive business for anyone who, who either works in the production company world or maybe other agency owners who hire production companies. It’s a competitive world. And it’s probably not the most consultative form of selling, but it is selling in its truest form. Okay. it was a lot of, yeah, dial well, dialing for dollars again, like a bit, sort of a slightly archaic term, but the sense of consistency and persistence and being outgoing. And I was able to shed any fear I had of stepping up to a stranger and saying, Hey, I wanna tell you about what I’ve got for you today.


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: The Evolution of Business Growth


So that was really early on in my career, and it created, it formed a great foundation. And then, over time, I continued to work and do business development activities for marketing services firms, moving from the production company and software to little media sales. And eventually I transitioned to the agency side.I worked with both small boutique-size agencies where I was, I was the business development resource. I was in charge of getting the leads, closing the leads, developing the system, and maintaining the tools. And then I got some time at much larger agencies, global agencies. And I’m not sure how big your, how, how big the size of the agency is, your listeners, my guess is that they’re owners or work people who work at smaller sized agencies, but business development at a big agency in some ways is really different for the business development role.


Best business development programs? It’s just about selling and more about kind of equipping your team to do the best job possible. So, I used to describe it as creating the environment for winning. And that really was everything from the pitch strategy to rehearsing the team and presenting to developing great content. Just making sure that everyone was fed . for those like 16-hour days that we would spend getting ready for a big little pitch. Anyway, so after, yeah. So I started working for myself about 15 years ago and really formed the Sutter company, which is probably closer to its current form about eight years ago. Okay. I had a bit of my own positioning moment where I spent the first few years kind of doing a variety of things. I basically if you needed business development help and we were a match, then hire me.


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Business Development


You know what? I found that it was a little bit fe or famine, and so I decided Right. You know, so I’d have some really great gigs, and then that gig would end and I think, oh my gosh, what do I do next? And I’d panic for a month or so, another great gig would come in. So I thought I really wanted to I wanna build a business that’s sustainable, and that provides value, and that serves a distinct audience. And I did my own exercise. I actually did the same exercise for myself that I now do for my clients or with my clients. And I determined that my best client is the owner of a small agency for exactly some of the reasons that you mentioned in the intro. I really understood that feeling. I mean, when I started to do this, I remember as I developed my ideal client avatar, I created a story for her or him, and it was the story of an agency owner who, who just gets an email or maybe just gets off the phone from a prospective client who has just delivered the unfortunate news that they didn’t win the business, and she closes the office door. Or maybe, I guess that would be back in the day when everyone was in the office, But she sort of takes a moment, and she thinks, how do I tell my team? Right? I now have to tell my team, whom I have forced to work like dogs for the last two months, to win this piece of business because I thought we had a great chance. And I thought that if we could win it, I wouldn’t have to worry about my new business strategy for the rest of the year.


Like, revenue would be on track, and now they’re demoralizing, they’re exhausted, and I don’t have a plan. Yep, and I was like, that’s my client. and so I developed, as you said, so kindly in your intro systems and tools and training to help agency owners understand what their best business development program is for them. I also think that a lot of agency owners mistakenly believe that they must do certain things like they must do proactive outreach they must, and that can be really hard for an agency owner who feels very uncomfortable with that kind of proactive outreach. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s the thing, but I try to help agency owners find ways into business development, which many people feel is unnatural and a burden and a mystery. And I try to get them into business development in ways that sort of plan their strengths using talents that they know they have and that they understand and build a program around that. I felt like that hope that wasn’t too much without a big old bunch of information, and here’s why. I think it was awesome. Maybe that’s a poor choice of words on my part, but when you painted the picture, when you paint, when you told us the story, and you painted the picture of the agency owner, he or she loses or finds out that they lost the pitch. And you use the word demoralized, which is such a perfect packaging of the emotional state of the owner, whether it’s they lost the pitch, they got a call from the gorilla, says, thanks, but hmm. We’re making a shift. we’re putting the account up for review. Or you’re just outright thanks, but we’re at the end of our relationship. Demoralized is the perfect word for all of those scenarios. Right?


Best business development programs for writing your story. Absolutely. It’s a lot of it, I think, stems from, well, so it’s psychological it’s not logical, it’s psychological. and it also when you realize that when your story is weak, and I think a lot of agency owners, God bless them, are people pleasers. Yeah. So we have grown up in this business to believe that the client is not always right for the most part. Right. and it’s our job to thrill, delight, and entertain at the risk of making it sound a little bit exaggerated. But I do think that the idea for agency owners is like, we just have to make the, the, the client love us rather than say, look, here’s my value. I know what my value is, I know who I serve really well, and today sucks because I just lost the pitch. I just lost the client. But I know that I’m equipped to start tomorrow. Like tonight, I’m gonna go home and have a couple of scotches and maybe a good night’s sleep tomorrow, I’m gonna go in. I’m gonna say, okay, how do I get back out there with my message and start to reconnect with my ideal clients? I mean, ideally, you’re doing that consistently anyway, but Yeah.


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Exploring the Weakness of the Story


Best business development programs? If you will, for where our conversation’s gonna go because then it feels like, yeah, it’s a bp in the road, but you can quickly get back onto the horse or whatever metaphor you want to use. Maybe it lessens the demoralization, if, is that even a word? Yeah. like the emotional impact of that. Okay. So let’s go back to something you just said a couple of minutes ago because I think, in my opinion, this is really key. Yeah. And you said when your story is weak, and because of that, it takes such courage again, in my opinion, Yeah, for someone to actually dig in and make their story strong, like actually come to grips with what’s our point of view and why we’re running this place. Like, why is it that we’re doing what it is that we’re doing, and candidly, why should somebody care? So, talk a little bit more about like, the weakness of the story and why you chose to share that there, because my guess is that’s pretty pivotal to what you do.


Yes, and you bring up a really interesting point in that it can be, again, psychologically difficult, partially because it requires you to get in touch with some vulnerabilities . And show that. And look, I, speaking personally, I have a hard time with that myself, and yet I ask my agency editor to do that. But it’s getting in touch with, like, well, what makes me vulnerable? But that vulnerable, that your vulnerabilities also helped to make you stronger. I say one of the great things about the story is there’s no such thing as a good story without both happy surprises and setbacks, sometimes devastating. And it’s exactly that contrast between the good things and the setbacks that make your audience, in this case, your prospective clients, go, I wanna hear more. And they’re, I feel like we keep talking about psychology, but there are psychological reasons for that science.


Brain science has shown that we, like our brains, actually fire up in certain ways when we’re being told a story. We can’t help our DNA, we’re just hardwired to connect with a story whether we want to or not. It’s instinctual. But the other thing that a story does for agencies is it takes that sort of people pleasing, agency centric, it’s not even a story, the diatribe of, we win these awards, we’ve got this great process, we just and it turns it into something that the client can understand. It turns it into this way to take this really abstract set of credentials and make the client say, yeah, I really wanna know more. It gives ’em something to hold onto one Hundred Percent. 


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Story-telling Skills


Best business development programs in your story-telling skills. It connects the, it’s like a bridge or stand in the gap, or again, whatever metaphor you want to use. Yeah. It shows them that you actually get them and that your experience really aligns with where they want to go. Right. And that you can be helpful. So I love that. And, and the, and the reality is, is when you were talking about the story and the origin of the story, I mean, you go back to the beginning of human communication, whether you wanna talk about cave paintings, you wanna talk about hieroglyphics, the visualization of the story, the communication has always been that way. So, there is no doubt that our DNA is wired so that we can connect with the story. It is the fundamental way that we communicate.


Yeah, absolutely. Right. And sometimes I wonder a couple of the things that are interesting too, sometimes I wonder if agencies, if agency leaders, they’re so good at using those storytelling skills on behalf of their own clients that sometimes I wonder, they may say, yeah, yeah, yeah, we got that. We’re storytellers. Like, you don’t need to tell us how to use stories to sell or agency. Or, there’s almost maybe a sense that, well, it’s too easy. How can how like pitching is supposed to be hard? So how can it be that you’re telling me that it’s as easy as telling a good story to one a client and making them feel confident in our ability to make a difference from them? And I usually say, yes, I am well, and it’s gotta be a true story and authentic, but Yeah.


Well, and it’s ironic, too, isn’t it? Because they, they, they may have just last week said in front of their client, it can really be this simple: we need to tell your story to your audience. Yeah. Right. It’s really funny. Okay. So something else that you said really stuck with me, and I added it into my notes right away, is, as you said, finding ways that they can step into business development that play to their strengths. And this might be a good segue into the eight steps. I’m not sure. Yeah. But tell us a little bit more about that, because when you said find ways into Biz dev that they can step into biz dev that play to the strengths, it sounds like you’re one identifying the strengths and then figuring out, okay, these are the things you need to do, and then, and then this is how it connects to what you’re already good at naturally, maybe. Exactly.


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Discover Your New Business Strengths Profile


Yeah. In fact, one of the steps is to understand what you’re, what you’re good at. Okay. So this came to me when I first started my consulting business, and I would do these workshops with my clients, positioning workshops, strategy workshops, and they would be a day or two filled with ideas and hard work and important conclusions, and we’d believe each other exhausted, but exhilarated. And the agency would feel energized. Yes, I know what I’m doing, and then nothing would happen. And I think there are actually a couple of reasons for that. But I think one of the reasons was that, again, abstractly, an agency leader can say, okay, totally intellectually, I totally understand what needs to happen here. And then psychologically, there’s that sense of like, okay, but now I gotta start, and I gotta potentially put myself out there, make myself a little vulnerable, and, oh God, please do not make me make a cold call.


Or please don’t make me walk up to strangers in a room, in a room where everyone’s thinking mediocre wine and chewing on the canopy. So, I started to think about the agency owners that I knew, and I came up with roughly four different profiles. Okay. And I call them my new business strengths profiles. And the four of them are the hunter, who tends to be the person who is most sort of, most naturally drawn to sales, who’s pretty good. That type of person who isn’t actually really good at walking into a room full of strangers, sipping on cocktails, walking up to anyone making friends, and leaving with a business deal. But that’s a very particular type of person. There’s the hunter, there is the thinker, which tends to be someone who’s more introverted.


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Unleashing Your Agency’s Potential


However, I’ve worked with a lot of thinkers that are also fairly good salespeople. But they need a little bit more purpose, and they need to kind of be set up. They’re the ones who can really use the good story. If they have got a good story and good positioning, they’re gonna feel more comfortable. So you’ve got the hunter, the thinker, the promoter, the promoter’s the only one I’ve got a real person as the sort of the avatar and the promoter. For me, the quintessential promoter in our world today is Gary Vaynerchuk. Oh. So, the promoter is the type of person who is sort of through sheer force of energy and of creates. And I, and again, I don’t mean to have any sort of negative connotation to this, sort of create a cult of personality. Yep. So I would argue as much, I have a huge amount of respect for Gary Vanerchuk.


He’s a pretty amazing guy. He’s certainly not the best keynote I’ve ever seen. Yeah. But he sure makes a lot of them because he doesn’t care that he is not the best keynote. He is just out there, out there, out there, out there. He practices what he preaches, and his business life leads to his personal life and vice versa. a little unfiltered, but he’s still willing to be out there, and that’s really helped build his business. And then the last one is the communicator. And the communicator is that keynote. The communicator is the one who is, feels much more comfortable with being in front of a larger group of people. They tend to be the types of people who are really good at taking complex ideas and making them easy to understand. you know, a lot of the communicators in my life, especially at larger agencies, tended to be the head of strategy.


Often now, I have one person in my mind, a British guy, head of strategy for our agency, who wasn’t particularly good interpersonally. I mean, he was a very nice guy, but I didn’t particularly wanna walk into that cocktail reception and put him on a stage in front of a hundred people. is a really big idea. And yes, there’s a crossover, and yes, it’s very unscientific. But I think what it mostly does is when I’ve started introducing that it allowed agency owners to say, oh, that’s, yeah. That I’m a total communicator. That’s why it’s been impossible for me to sustain a a proactive outreach strategy because I’m not good at that. But you know what, let’s build, let’s build more of an oriented strategy. Or the thinker might be, yeah, I need to write more. Let’s do a content marketing strategy around my writing or my, or a research project that will do quarterly or annually, and let’s build it around that.


And then you can start to fill in the gaps with, of course if you’re a thinker and you’ve developed a thought leadership strategy around, say, a research study that it does go out, say, semi-annually, you’re still gonna wanna field prospects. Hopefully, that’s gonna do its job by attracting people who will say, that’s really smart research. I wanna work with that agency. But then it’s much easier to build a team of people who can field those leads. also as a slightly more introverted person, you’re probably much more willing and comfortable talking to inbound versus trying to create the outbound. And then you can also fill the gap with, with more junior folks, with the lower level team, and again, lower level that sort of, I don’t mean to, again, no, no negative connotation, but people who are less experienced Sure. But who can do a great job managing your database, scheduling your meetings, and helping you edit and conceptualize some of your thought leadership? Wow. Okay. there are some really, really cool lessons there for us to dig into. But I’m curious before I maybe kind of order these questions here. I’m really curious: Where do you find yourself in those four profiles?


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Make your work organized


I think I’m, well, it’s funny, I probably would’ve told you 15 years ago, 20 years ago, that I was a hunter. Okay. I think I’m a communicator. And usually what people find is they’re a combination of two. Okay. I think I’m actually a thinker. Communicator. Ah, yeah. I love being like, I love this. Yeah. I love being, making talks, people going out, speaking, but I also get, I’m energized by time on my own. I also like a thinker. I’m pretty organized. I’m also the type of person who’s quite happy going in and dealing with my CRM database and making the con actually, right before you and I got started talking today, I was in my content spreadsheet, and I was like, oh, I gotta put Stephen in under my sort of list of influencers with his, with his Twitter feed and his LinkedIn. So that my VA had that information. And so, again, communicators don’t think that way. A lot of times, hunters don’t think that way. Yeah. But it’s all about what the details are.


Well, as you were sharing this and giving us that additional context, it makes total sense. Like, I go back to our conversation in the green room and we’re talking about backgrounds. Right. You know, ’cause we’re obviously meeting on Zoom, and we see each other and that kinda stuff. And, as you’re going through that, I’m like, oh, this makes perfect sense. She has her background set, the way that she has her pillows, the lighting, everything about how the art is hung right behind you, how you have your books neatly stacked, and all of that. I’m like, boy, that’s so funny. Oh, she is so totally organized. And I love that. That’s a big attraction piece for me. I’m like, oh my gosh. That is okay. So that makes, that makes total sense.


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Overcoming Discomfort and Prioritizing Time


I’ll also say for thinkers, write a book. I know it sounds like, oh my God, I need six months to write a book. But yeah. You know, it’s better to take those six months and write a book than to take six months and realize at the end of it, once again, I did not start or execute my prospecting strategy.


Okay. So let’s go to that piece here. And ’cause I’m curious about your point of view on this because I’m sure you hear this excuse a ton. and then, and then I know we need to get into the eight steps. So I think if I hear, oh we’re the cobbler’s kids, I think I might shove a fork in my eye one more time. like, right? It’s like, oh my gosh. So I’m curious from your perspective of hearing it too. Yeah. do you think that it’s like, is it truly a capacity issue? We just don’t have the time for anybody to be assigned that work here in the agency, maybe? Or is it the discomfort? Is it the uncomfortableness because what they’re trying to do isn’t aligned with the strengths that you just mapped out for us?


Yeah. Well, I think it’s a bit of both. Okay. But if you can take care if you can take care of at least one of those things, which is alleviating the discomfort and giving them a purpose for going out and generating new business, then you alleviate a little bit, then you, then you’ve alleviated one big issue. And now, we can tackle the time issue. but I also my personal point of view for small agencies is that it’s gotta be the CEO or founder or co-founders. What, what, they’ve gotta be the one who takes the lead. And so that’s when they’re like, oh, I don’t have time. I don’t know how, like, I expected to hire that business development person and I’d solve all my problems. So what’s interesting though is that agency owners don’t necessarily hesitate when they can, when they’ve got to a certain size to hire someone like head of client services. they’re able to, they should, they should be able to delegate, I believe. And look, I’m biased towards business development. So I believe that they can probably delegate much more to their deputies, the heads of strategy, the heads of client service, and their creative directors in order to allocate more time to business development. That’s what I find, again, sort of a generalization. Every agency is different. And then sometimes what I’ll feel with, with the time factor, the other concept I developed is this idea of a new business ecosystem. Hmm. Which is also one of the steps. So we’re getting to the steps, which are just not quite in the same order. So this, I, so the other realization I had is that the overwhelming thing, like, oh my God, I gotta do everything, and where do I start and what do I do?


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: The Eight Essential Steps


And so I thought, well, okay, what if we could just start with one or things play back to the strengths of the agency owner, and what if we look at it like an ecosystem, like we all gotta build when we were in second grade, all those, and you would be pretty careful about what you put in that ecosystem. So you’d want plants and animals that were gonna thrive in that system. Yes. And you didn’t wanna overload it. You didn’t wanna put too little in, and you wanted to put the right things in there. So this idea is you start understanding your strengths. What’s that going to, what, what does that align well to as far as those tactics? And let’s not try to do everything, but going back to the thinker, if that thinker said, okay, yeah, I’ve got an idea, and it’s gonna be great for a book, so let’s focus on that.


From the book, that may require a bit of a PR strategy. But because you’re leading with that book and there’s a strong idea there, now it’s gonna be easier to hire a PR person or outsource that to an expert because they say, oh, I totally get it. I totally get what your story is, and you’ve got a book and now I understand what to do with that. so you sort of build it up over time so that you aren’t asking an agency under to say, okay, somehow you gotta find 15 more hours in your week. Right. I try not to position it that way.


I mean, this is literally what we do every single day on behalf of our clients. We should be great at it. Okay, so let’s take that as our segue into the eight steps. Yeah, yeah. so that we can solve this feast and famine, so, let’s go high-level first, and then we can break them down. So, give us an overview of the eight steps first.


Yeah. And I’ll also admit these have adapted, adjusted, and shifted a little bit. So I think that they, I think the steps I’m about to tell you, are exactly what I put in my book. And that they may be slightly different. And it’s only because I’ve improved them over time. But number one, and this won’t be a surprise to anyone, is about clarity. If you’re not clear about why you’re great and what you do, then no one else is gonna be clear about it, either. So that’s the idea. So it’s really about positioning, being brave enough, I don’t know if that’s quite the right term, but being willing to plant that stake in the ground and saying, we do this type of thing for these types of clients, and we get this type of, these types of results.


Learn more about Best Business Development Programs by tuning in to Our “ROI of Community” Framework


Best Business Development Programs: Strategies for Agency Success


And you know, I probably won’t unless you want to, I’m not gonna spend that much more time on positioning because I know you and your team talk about it. I have a ton of other competitors, worthy competitors who talk about it. She talks about it. And there are lots of ways you can also approach positioning, by the way, agency owners, which doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re only working in a very small silo. Okay. So that’s number one. Number two. Two is quieting the emotions. Number two. Number three is a little bit tied together. So there’s quieting the emotions and staring down tears and fear. So the emotions are a lot of what’s around. Cause it is very emotional. This agency is your baby. So, how do you manage to feel confident about what you’re selling in a way that is not going to get you too tied up in the process?


And then it’s the staring down fear. So, I do believe that fear plays a pretty big role. And I think there are a few fears. One is the fear of vulnerability. Like, ugh, just getting out there. Like, I don’t wanna be rejected. Rejection sucks. Now, of course, if you go back to the first couple of steps, especially the positioning step, the more that you have a strong positioning, then the more, the less you’ll be rejected. And when you are rejected, quote unquote rejected, usually you understand why you understand that you were not, you weren’t the right person for them. Like, you’re selling this awesome thing, and you get great results. But if they say no, it probably means that they’re too foolish. Your value or a whole host of other valid reasons. So you can then move on to the next prospect.


So besides that, there’s also fear; I think there’s a fear of rejection, but also all those other fears about how, how do I start, what do I do? And then how do I sustain it? And that’s got to do with like, the new business ecosystem. Okay. Okay. So staring down the fear, once you can address those fears, you’re start to address some of those psychology psychological things. The fourth thing I call the step is called defeating abstraction, which is really about storytelling. So if you’ve got a good position, if you’ve managed to sort of get a handle on your psychology a little now, you need to address the fact that our tendencies to go in and say, Hey, we’re really great. We’re, we’re a great agency. We’ve got a great team, we’ve got state-of-the-art technology, we have an award-winning approach, all those blah, blah, blah.


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Best Business Development Programs: Essential Steps to Sustainable Growth


Very agency-focused stories. Well, no, they’re not stories but agency-focused statements. And this is where storytelling comes in, where you can take that and start to dive in to understand what’s made you great. And what are those surprises and setbacks that have gone into creating not only you as a professional but also the agency as well? It’s where you have to be a little vulnerable, where you have to be willing to talk about your setbacks, and you have to be willing to take that client along with the journey. You know, one of the things I’ve got is a slide in one of my talks where I show a bunch of statements, let’s say, like the agency, typical agency statements in a pitch. We relentlessly pursue results for our clients. We’re digitally focused, we’re client-centric, and we’re passionate about what we do.


And I say what a story does is it takes those relatively meaningless statements and creates different statements by changing one word from we to them; a story then allows the client to reach those conclusions themselves. They are really relentless and are getting results for that client based on the case study I just read. Yep. They have a really interesting, innovative way of hiring the best talent based on that team that they just showed me. So it changes we are today. So that helps to defeat abstraction, look, and agency services. One of the things I also say is that we sell this really abstract thing, and abstract things are hard to sell. And yet we also aren’t trained as salespeople. So, as the agency owner, it is no wonder we are having a hard time. We’ve got this really tough thing to sell, and we don’t have.


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Best Business Development Programs: Exploring the Steps to Mastering Business Development for Agencies


But storytelling can really help. You know what I also say? It’s like, yeah, you agencies sell the promise of a better future or a better outcome with absolutely no guarantee of results. Right. No wonder we have a hard time with that.


Right. Before we go to five, I just want to make sure I have number four named correctly, defeating distraction.


Much. In other words, we are relentless in pursuing results for our clients. Perfect. That’s an abstract statement. Got it. It’s abstract and subjective, but saying, lemme tell you, walk through a case study, which is a story, by the way.


Number five is your new business strengths profile. What are you good at? And if you can start with that, are you the communicator, the hunter, the thinker, or the promoter? , when you can tie when you can understand that. You can start making critical decisions about the types of tactics that you should use to get your message out there to then get your story out there. Okay. Is it gonna be a book? Is it going to be networking? Is it going to be keynote speeches? And eventually, it might be a combination of all those things, but usually, when you’re trying to build that, you’re focusing on that one thing that you know you’re good at. Okay. Step number six, although I probably should’ve mentioned this earlier, is slightly out of order. It’s knowing your ideal client. Hmm. So this really, in a lot of ways, ties right back to positioning as well, but it is important to know who your ideal client is and why.


So, I think also ties back to the idea that a lot of agencies want to work with a wide variety of clients. Actually, I was talking to a young designer yesterday who, quite frankly, should probably work with a wide variety of clients for the next couple of years to figure out what he does best. But I always sort of ruefully chuckle when agencies say, well, we don’t wanna get bored. We wanna work with a consumer package good today and an automotive client tomorrow and maybe financial services next year. And I guess if you’re really good at what you do, I don’t think you’re going to be bored by just staying in one category. But all those types of categories are so different. How does a consumer packaged good marketer take your story or your credentials around automotive and financial services, and how do they turn it into something that they can, that’s meaningful to them, that makes them feel the trust they need to feel about hiring you? Because, by the way, you have no guarantee that you’re gonna give them results.


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Best Business Development Programs: Crafting a Strategic Ecosystem for Agency Growth


I think that that’s fascinating. And actually, that reminded me of a conversation a couple of weeks ago with one of our prospective clients. They had three different categories that, on the surface, seemed completely different. However, when we peeled back the layers, what we found was the connective tissue across all three was actually the audience. Right. It was actually the audience. And, so to your point, the agency wanted to continue doing category work in each of those three categories. Because it was new, it was different, it was ever changing, all of that kind of stuff. But what they realized is that they actually had this strength in the audience that stretched across all three and that then became their niche, the audience.


Yes. And that’s also really liberating as well because I think sometimes you can, agencies can take this idea of owning a position or niching down almost in too limited a way. But yeah, there are lots of different ways that you can own your position and still work across multiple categories. And that can be a really great one. Sometimes it’s also understanding your technology really well, or, but you do, but you really do have to be able to, as you, as you said, identify that connective tissue and be really clear with that automotive client to say, look, here’s what we, our knowledge of what we know about suburban moms because we’ve sold yogurt to them with this, with a client a informs us of how we need to sell them your, I don’t know, whatever the what minivan, sports, car whatever.


You know, the other thing I’m digressing a little bit, but the other thing I think agencies do when they’re pitching is if they’re pitching a new category, they say, oh, we’ve gotta get as smart as possible. Like, we’re a consumer patch package that gets good agency, and we’ve gotta get as smart as possible in the automotive business. Hmm. And that I think is a, and I think, yeah, that’s like going too far the other side of learning. So you don’t wanna make it all about you, the agency, and yet for a new pro, for a prospect, it’s impossible to make it all about them because you don’t know enough. You’ll never know enough about them. So again, that connective tissue to say, we don’t know everything, we don’t know all, all, all your issues. However, based on our experience with the work that we’ve done here, here, here, we can make some pretty intelligent assumptions that you’re up against these challenges. Lemme tell let me tell you how we’ve solved those. That also makes sales easier, by the way. Of course. And you can do that, of Course. And you’re leading them with smart insights. Yeah. As opposed to hyperbole or conjecture or or whatever. So love that. So what’s, what’s number seven?


Okay, number seven is the ecosystem defining and then optimizing your ecosystem. So now you’ve really laid a lot of groundwork. You’ve got to understand what you do best and why you’ve sort of quieted some of the emotions around what you do. Again, the positioning helps to make it more subject, objective, and subjective. Okay. You’ve addressed some of the fears of rejection how to start, and how to keep going. You’ve created that story for yourself, and you understand what you do best. Now you can start to fill out this ecosystem of what the 1, 2, and 3 things are that we should be doing consistently. We haven’t talked a lot about consistency, but I think consistency is a big word. and an important idea and helps, it helps to battle against the time monster. Because even if it’s if you can sort of even out, sort of take some of the sharp edges off that up and down by just saying, okay really busy, got a ton of client work, or like fires, I got fires out everywhere, but I commit, like the core piece of my ecosystem is writing a monthly article.


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Best Business Development Programs: Discovering the 12-Week Sprint


I will do that, or do my podcast, or whatever it might be. So, I think I’d rather have agency owners do less but do things more consistently. So yeah, building the ecosystem, start with the consistency of that one key thing and then build around there. Love that. And then the final one, step eight Is around consistency. And this is creating a sort of sustainable system. I am sort of starting to implement it. And what I usually advise for the agencies that I work with, especially initially as they’re building this ecosystem, is we start with 12 weeks sprints. Hmm. And so to take this, because I think one of the other things that happens is that the planning can fall apart. So you know, when you’re up to step seven, often where people are like, okay, I’m feeling really good, but it’s all on paper essentially.


So step eight is really about creating the, or now implementing that system with some consistency. So what I like about 12-week sprints is that they’re long enough to see progress but short enough to feel a sense of urgency. And that’s what I don’t love about annual plans. I think there’s a place for annual plans, but the annual plan January starts with great enthusiasm and moment, and by March you haven’t done as much as you thought you would, but you still have time. And then the summer rolls along rolls around, and you’re a little bit worried now and, but you know, you’ll start in September, and then October rolls around, and you’re panicked because you haven’t done anything. And, yet then you decide, well, we’d have to start the whole unproductive cycle over again. The other thing that I find, with a 12-week sprint, is there’s a lot of like unsexy tactical stuff that has to happen for the really sexy client win to happen. So it’s maintaining the database, maintaining or writing the materials, or preparing for your podcast. And I think that can also get lost unless you have that structure. And again, sometimes it’s about starting things up. What has to happen this quarter in order for us to start to build our infrastructure?


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I love the 12-week sprint, and it’s 84 days of super-focused work. Yeah. And, and the reality is going back to the psychology pieces that we’ve kind of touched on throughout this conversation, we, we, we as people for, for whatever reason, I don’t know the brain science behind it, but that’s about the capacity that we have is about a, an 84-day thing the, the, the P 90 x. Right. It’s the 12-week sprint to get your body back in shape. Yeah. A lot of the physical transformation stuff and nutritional strategies are about a 12-week or 84-90-day sprints because that’s what we can mentally handle the charge up the mountain for that next sort of reaching that camp. It’s that.


Exactly. And there are lots of other business techniques, too, right? I was initially inspired by a couple of other systems, but eos Gina Wickman’s track traction system is the same thing. Quarterly rocks and ladders up to annual and semi and more than, and, and annual three-year, five-year bigger plans, but you gotta start somewhere.


Yeah. Quarterly financial statements, quarterly reporting of results. Yeah. I mean, we’re just sort of ingrained with that. And so Yes. You know, not that it’s a circadian rhythm or anything like that, but maybe it is. I don’t know. We’re just sort of ingrained in that. So Yeah. Great conversation. I know that we’re quickly running out of time here. Yeah. but wow, this has been a whole lot of fun. So, before we go, before we close out and say goodbye, I just want to ask if you think we missed anything, any, any final advice, any additional recommendations that that you’d like to share, and then please share with our audience the best way to connect with you, Jody.


Sure. Have we missed something? Absolutely. What have we missed? I don’t, there’s only, there’s so many things, right? Could we talk for another five hours? Yeah. So I think we made a great start, and I really appreciate your taking the time to walk the audience and having me walk the audience through the eight steps, which is the best way for people to connect with me. And I think we’re gonna include some links as well. but it is my website, the You can also simply email me, [email protected]. but also, there are a few tools if you would like to, if anyone would like to get a better idea of what their new business strengths are. I do have a pretty simple quiz that you can take, and it’ll be a link to that to understand what your new business strengths are.


And I’d be curious also, just let me know if anyone takes it. I’d love to hear if it’s on target or not. I also have a new business ecosystem guide, a pretty straightforward guide that just allows you the sort of the basic framework that I work with my clients, that I use with my clients to start to build out your ecosystem of intellectual property, sales, marketing, and closing tools. and then also for for listeners of your podcast, I’m also delighted to offer a complimentary 45-minute consultation. And that link to my calendar, we’ll also be in the show notes, I think. You can find that on my website as well.


Jodi, thank you very much for your generosity. And okay, everyone, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and re-listen to Jodi’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope you do. The key is you have to take the yet the eight steps and put them into consistent work. That’s the key. Taking action on what she so generously shared with you today. And Jody, again, I just wanna say thank you for coming onto the show to be our mentor and guide to help us move our businesses onward to that next level. Thank you so much, my friend.


Thank you, Stephen. Thank you also for your work. I’m a big fan.

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The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

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