4 Biggest Agency Sales Mistakes & 3 Sales Systems to Setup Success

By Jason Swenk on July 5, 2023

Are you guilty of making one of the biggest agency sales mistakes? Do you rely too much on referrals? Do you have three channels working to find new prospects and fill your pipeline? Without this, you’re always playing catch-up leaving no time for working on growth. A lack of systems hinders your agency’s growth by keeping the owner tied to daily operations. As today’s guest learned the hard way, you can’t rely too much on any one specific channel of lead generation. He shares the lessons he learned on maintaining a balance and working hard to set up the different channels to secure new leads. He also recalls the pitfalls and mistakes made as well as the ways he learned to set up his agency sales team for success.

Chris Brewer is the cofounder of OMG Commerce, a digital agency that’s highly experienced in crafting Google search ads designed to target traffic that converts. Their team is really connected to the Google ecosystem and knows what’s new and noteworthy, what’s tested, and what’s not quite ready for primetime.

In this interview, we’ll discuss:

  • 4 biggest sales mistakes growing your digital agency
  • 3 systems to setup for agency sales success.
  • The worst and best day in an agency owner’s life.


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Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design, and development agency that has provided white-label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out e2msolutions.com/smartagency and get 10% off for the first three months of service.


Pivoting to the Agency Service Offering with Market Demands 

Chris and his business partner Brett Curry are both serial entrepreneurs and accidental agency owners.

In 2009, after selling his business and feeling miserable about it, Chris attended the Dan Kennedy Super Conference in Dallas. This conference was a great place to network and Chris actually left with a pretty good idea for a new business he later presented to Brett.

They started selling Google Maps optimizations to local businesses. That first year they sold $30K worth of optimizations. This allowed them to pivot to other areas which provided opportunities for repeat business. They turned their Google Maps model into SEO and PPC and continued to grow their agency in other service areas. Their most recent focus is on eCommerce.

4 Sales Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Your Digital Agency 

With such a long history in the business, Chris is embarrassed to admit it was only eight years ago he realized he needed to get out of sales. Now he shares mistakes made while growing his agency:

  1. Not focusing on outbound. When the agency was growing, it seemed there was no need to focus on outbound. However, there came a time when the inbound pipeline dried up and they scrambled to hire for outbound sales. This is reactionary and, as Chris says, “hindsight’s always wonderful in agency land.” Jason recommends a 3-channel approach to lead generation: inbound, outbound, and a strategic partnership.
  2. Relying on referrals. Chris and his partner worked hard to establish themselves as a reliable and trustworthy partner. With that kind of reputation, other agencies felt comfortable sending them referrals. However, if most of your strategic partners are other agencies, they’ll hold onto business when things get slow for them.
  3. Conferences and events. Before the pandemic, conferences were the place to network since all the big brands were usually there. As we’ve seen, things change quickly so it’s important not to rely heavily on events you haveno control over.
  4. Lead gen companies. They turned to the many emails they regularly got from lead gen companies coming after their agency. In the end, however, the ones they chose didn’t play out too well. It was a disappointing experience, but he still believes in outbound.

3 Systems to Set Up Your Agency Sales Team’s Success

By now, Chris has figured out what he does best and the value he brings to the agency. At some point, he felt he wanted to share the spotlight and get approval. More recently, he decided he wanted to step back and do what he does best, which is relationships and connecting with people in a non-sales way.

An owner always sells better than an outside hire. There are various reasons for this, but Chris thinks it starts with compensation. An owner will just step into a conversation and make sure they’re getting the right kind of clients. They’re in no rush to meet a sales quota or specific commission, so they can properly separate prospects from suspects. Additionally, they have a high degree of credibility and trust which helps put people at ease.

There are certain things an owner can teach their team to attract and covert clients:

  1. Agency-specific experience isn’t necessary; nuances of the agency business and service offering can be learned.
  2. Your sales team can navigate sales calls when you prepare them with responses to the common sales objections.
  3. Pass along success stories accumulated from the years of being an agency owner in order to share with future prospects. It’s an integral piece to making prospects feel like they’re in a conversation rather than being sold.

Once you set up these systems to tackle the challenges of training an effective sales team, they won’t even need you anymore.

What is the Worst and Best Day in an Agency Owner’s Life?

The day they can finally exit day-to-day operations is the best and worst day for an agency owner. You walk around realizing your team doesn’t need you and can handle things on their own. It’s the best day because now your business is scalable; and the worst day, short-term, until you realize the agency still needs you in a different way.

Maybe you don’t want to exit and maybe you do, but it’s important to have the choice. Also, it’s something you’ll need to do even if you want to take a vacation. Has it been years since the last time you took even two weeks off? Do you think the business will come crashing down if you’re not there to put out the fires? Something’s probably wrong if that’s the case.

Be more productive in the things that’ll move you forward

Most entrepreneurs can relate to the feeling of having so many ideas you end up all over the place. Chris says that’s how he’s made money but he also admits this also makes him his own worst enemy.

If you’re trying to focus on certain projects, Chris recommends not making any big changes all at once. Start with one thing and give it some time to see if it works. Also, figure out your why before you start. Have a clear reason why this new thing you’re working on is important to you and then find an accountability partner. If you’re planning to try time-blocking, you need someone to keep you accountable for that and attach a personal or financial penalty. For instance, when Chris was writing a book, he told his wife he’d put $500 in her account if he didn’t get up at 7:00 AM to work on it.

Do You Want to Transform Your Agency from a Liability to an Asset?

If you want to be around amazing agency owners that can see what you may not be able to see and help you grow your agency, go to Agency Mastery 360.  Our agency growth program helps you take a 360-degree view of your agency and gain mastery of the 3 pillar systems (attract, convert, scale) so you can create predictability, wealth, and freedom.

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