On a call last week with a client who wasn't seeing the results he had hoped for, the question came up, "What is the definition of failure?"
How would you answer that? For some, it is that they won't recoup the 100s of thousands of dollars that they have invested in their startup. For others it is that the were not able to get the 6 new clients they wanted before the middle of the year.
My cohort Rick Roberge defined it best. "Taking someone's money and not being able to help them."
If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know that for me the definition of failure was not helping a client increase revenue and grow their business. Inbound consultants are in a unique position to help companies obtain real growth. But it's not just marketing, or as one marketing agency owner said ,"The client who expects the marketing miracle.” (because like most, the client doesn't know how to nurture and close inbound leads)
And so marketing agencies are set up to fail. They are hired to deliver leads that to turn into sales. Yet they have no influence or control of the part that happens after it gets handed to sales. They've set themselves up to fail, with all the best of intentions.
And sometimes, no matter how much they educate, plead, beg, demand, or calmly suggest, their client who was willing to try inbound is now not happy. Why? Could be a number of reasons.
- The client believed inbound to be another set of tactics and never really adopted the mindset of inbound.
- The agency isn't a sales person, and doesn't have the expertise or resources to train and coach their client's sales people to nuture and sell to inbound leads.
- The agency didn't set the inbound expectation properly.
- The client believed that they could close inbound leads and wouldn't let the agency help.
It probably sounds something like what this client said to their inbound agency last week:
You may not realize it, but the same challenge your inbound agency has is happening everywhere. One agency owner we talked to last week told us that 60% of their clients left last year. So in fact, it has been happening everywhere and for a long time. Those new clients you just brought on? Set the watch, your time is to churn is ticking if you are not addressing sales up front.
That's why more agencies are starting to understand that it is not enough to produce high quality leads, they have to help clients close them.
A toolset is not enough. Of course it can help, but tools are only as good as the people who use them. Inbound has transformed the way we do business, and so must it transform the people involved. People still buy from people.