Marketing Agency Sales Process: How to Boost Revenue

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Congrats. You’re ready to start selling!

Marketing goals and objectives have been thoroughly explained and delegated. Your sales team and their reps are ready to get cracking! You put your feet up and let them do their magic.

And then a month passes.

You check in with your team, hoping for some stellar, brag-worthy conversion reports. But all you get are some suggestions for a few website changes and a proposal to change the company’s logo!

Wtf.

Cue panic attack. This CANNOT be happening.

Where are my brag-worth conversion reports, damnit!

After quelling your panic and reining in your frustration, it hits you:

Did I walk them through the sales process steps? Are they aware of the entire sales process?

Whoops. Well, this is embarrassing.

When reps don’t know the sales process steps, a conversion rate angel loses its wings. And this lack of knowledge is a common sales process mistake that your sales rep may be making.

So, if you’re expecting sales growth but are overwhelmed with choosing the right ways to do it, we’re here to help.

ScaleTime offers results-driven development for your digital marketing agency, allowing you to optimize your systems and maximize your revenues.

Sound fun? It sure is, amigo. Let’s get started!

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Meet a Customer’s Needs With Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is now every business’s go-to for the latest trends, news, and updates for optimizing the sales process and obtaining robust conversion rates.

Meeting your customers’ needs by accessing the best digital marketing techniques anywhere, anytime, with anyone is an essential step to turbo-charging your business growth.

With the right digital marketing techniques and strategies, your brand will obtain increased visibility online, and ensure that more people (and paying customers) see you!

In addition, mobile devices, smartphones, apps, and other channels help connect you to potential clients and your target audience.

Result? More sales, bruv.

How do you know who’s a member of your target audience?

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Your target audience is the individuals or entities most likely to become your customers. These are the people who fit the profile for the type of person who would most like your brand and purchase your offerings.

All sales managers should know how to identify the brand’s target audience and put all their marketing efforts into making those particular individuals notice and purchase the deliverables you are offering.

Inbound marketing, social media marketing, and other digital platforms make your agency more public and accessible and are used to attract and engage your audience.

At first, your target audience might be on the small side. But once you determine who you’re selling to, you can find additional digital marketing avenues for expanding your reach and tapping into more audiences who will convert into profitable customers.

Mapping Out Your Sales Process

The road to customer success is not a smooth-sailing one. There will be bumps and many obstacles along the way. But with the help of a standardized sales process, you can get your sales team going and your revenue increasing.

So how will your agency go from here to there?

Sales process flowchart guide

We’ve come up with this Sales Process Flowchart Guide, where we discuss the various steps of a sales process and tips in building a sales strategy with a handy-dandy sales flowchart!

Sales reps and project managers, rejoice for your life is about to get easier.

All right, here’s an example of an actual flowchart:

Marketing Agency Sales Process

As you can see, this flowchart is broken up into small chunks of tasks that comprise all the necessary sales process steps.

The sections are also categorized into various shapes and colors to differentiate processes, subprocesses, and decisions. Arrows point out the direction of the next stage, while documentation is often indicated to put into writing the activities performed in a specific step.

Overall, the sales process flowchart is composed of 7 steps:

  1. Sourcing leads
  2. Contacting new leads
  3. Determining the sales cycle
  4. Creating and preparing sales collateral
  5. Taking note of questions and arguments
  6. Closing deals
  7. Caring for current clients

Now that you can see in a visual representation what the sales process looks like, the next step is to create a sales process that works for your business.

How to Create an Agency Sales Process and Get Results in 7 Steps

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Step 1: Source Your Leads

Leads must have specific demographic attributes your target customers most likely to find your products or services of interest.

So, to get to your leads, you need to get the target market right.

All right, but how do you figure out those specific demographic attributes?

Get your sales team to check on prospecting and qualifying the target audience and create marketing projects to generate their demographic information.

Then, place them in a secure, organized database like a Customer Relationship Management or CRM, and track your leads’ engagement, interactions, and updates on contact numbers and demographic location.

A CRM can also monitor customer relationships and evaluate whether they are quality leads.

Other than this, you also need to make sure your product or service offered has undergone a product-market fit. Or at the very least, the presence of strong demand in the market today.

Another factor is the price tolerance of the offered product or service. This is the amount buyers are still willing to pay for your offering, instead of selecting another competitor’s product or service.

Step 2: Contact and Qualify New Leads

Understanding how to qualify new leads is critical for knowing whether or not your agency has a quality group of leads or if you need to reevaluate your existing lead generation strategy.

Here are a few factors to consider when sorting the quality leads wheat from the chaff.

Stakeholders

Stakeholders are people or entities with a vested interest in your company’s success. They understand they are affected if the company fails, so they do everything to keep it thriving.

There are influential stakeholders, investors, internal stakeholders like employees, and external stakeholders like suppliers and trade associations. Your company stakeholders can all create a change in the agency’s overall marketing strategy and educate and empower people with the strategy’s effectiveness.

Authority

Lead generation is straightforward when individuals see you as an authority or if they know you are knowledgeable, especially when it comes to addressing their needs.

Also, holding an authoritative position also gives you the power to sway purchasing decisions without being seen as an aggressive salesperson or a retail dictator.

On the other end of the spectrum, having leads that engage with your business because they find your brand authoritative will ultimately expedite the sales process. That is, IF your sales reps properly pitch those leads!

An authority figure for many businesses is the finance manager, budget consultant, or the business owner.

Needs

When your leads immediately need what you’re currently offering, then you’re in luck. A thirsty man in the desert won’t give you no side-eye when you offer him a glass of cold water for five grand.

Basically, if your leads have an immediate, urgent need for your products, they’re not going to think twice about buying.

But most likely, you’re not offering an essential, urgent item. So, the entire sales process is going to take a bit longer. In lieu of this, marketing managers and sales reps must ask leads certain questions to determine how quickly the individual is likely to buy and exactly where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Questions like:

  • What are your challenges right now?
  • Is it worth it to you to spend money to overcome those challenges?
  • How much money? What’s your budget?
  • How soon do you need to solve your problems?

Etcetera, etcetera.

Keep in mind though that leads, whether quality or not, can also refer your agency to someone they know who needs your services.

Also in the future, the need for your services may arise. So leads you’ve already engaged and conversed with are more likely to remember you and contact you for help.

The point is to open the dialogue with anyone who has raised their hand, and keep that dialogue open for the lead’s future needs.

Timeline

Leads are often bound by a timeline or a specific period that either hinders or allows them to turn from a lead into a profitable customer.

Whether the challenges they face can be solved right now or not, they face other problems whose answers your products or services cannot provide.

This may be more important to them, so they put purchasing from you on hold for the meantime.

It is also important to note that when contacting leads, you don’t want to just ask a few questions so you can tick off some arbitrary boxes.

The point of talking to leads is to actively listen and understand their needs, wants, goals, and challenges to create and offer suitable products and services.

This takes us to the next step:

Step 3: Determine the sales cycle

Having sourced and qualified your leads, determining how you will engage them is the next step in the sales process.

One of the sales process steps includes having specific touch points in the sales cycle. touch points are the type of encounters you have with prospective buyers.

A touch point in the sales cycle might not always take the form of directly talking to a lead. In some instances, a touch point might be an action your sales or marketing reps take to get your in front of quality leads.

  • In today’s digital, always on-screen world, a sales touchpoint can be something like:
  • A website query
  • An email subscription
  • Question on a transaction

Most touch points occur on handheld devices like a mobile phone connected to the internet. However, some leads still prefer the traditional route with face-to-face interactions or coffee dates. If possible, a good mix of both digital and traditional touch points is ideal.

Additionally, a touchpoint can also be sales calls like a warm or scheduled call. Or a discovery call with a lukewarm lead that lets you know more about a potential buyer after they’ve indicated they want to learn more about your brand.

Email follow-ups can also be touch points that can boost the approach stage of the sales process.

After a successful discovery call, assign leads to a contact or account manager to personally manage and check on their status and follow up with them confidently.

Step 4: Create sales collateral

The real work may start with sourcing leads. But the creative part of preparing a presentation for them is also a project.

A presentation of sales collateral includes introducing yourself, your brand, and unique offerings. This step is a make or break for you and an opportunity to say something about what you do and what customers love about your business.

Some common forms of sales collateral include:

  • Capabilities decks — These are visual presentations for investors. You flash visuals while you talk about your agency’s growth and where it’s heading.
  • Proposals— Proposals are documents which outline your proposed solution to a specific client.
  • Sales decks— These are presentations for prospective clients that need convincing to commit to a purchase.
  • Sales sheets — Sales sheets are flyers or a one-pager that discuss the customer’s challenges and the solutions your product or service offers.
  • Contracts— The written agreement between the buyer and the agency.

Sales collateral helps you convey the benefits and advantages potential clients will get when they start working with you. Collateral is a storytelling guide for your clients to help them grasp and deepen their understanding of your organization.

Step 5: Document Questions and Objections

One of the unavoidable steps in the sales process is facing obstacles and handling objections. You’re talking to a person with a brain, remember? They’re going to ask questions and have some concerns you’ll need to overcome if you want to make them a client.

So, marketing managers and sales reps must know how to deal with concerns the potential client may raise, pain points from investors, and questions from prospects. The challenge here is to act under pressure.

Easiest way to do that? Acknowledge the questions and objections and present specific solutions to objections, questions, and concerns.

Many managers and sales reps will just nod their heads during a presentation and forget what they are nodding for, but this should not be the case. Take time to jot down as many questions as possible and not just rely on memory on portions of the pitch or the agreement that need clarifying.

This way, the potential client knows you’re engaged and determined to win their YES(es) at the end of the day.

Step 6: Close the Deal! And track metrics 

After gracefully answering the prospects’ concerns, now’s your time to shine and close that deal.

First, negotiate with the revised conditions and terms and let them know you’re willing to agree.

Next, steer them in the direction of having a done deal.

Ask about their review and payment process and the timeline that goes along with it.

Next, confirm details like invoices, contract finalization, and endorsement with the sales operation team.

The last sales process step of onboarding and tracking clients is just around the corner for a project manager.

Why is it important to also track metrics after closing the deal?

Sales metrics monitor your agency’s progress. They allow you to see exactly who and what marketing techniques are working.

Accessing and analyzing this critical data allows you to reassessing the current sales process to see if it is still suitable for your business’s needs or needs updating.

Sales metrics also tell you about the customer and how advantageous they are to your agency’s bottom line. Obtain reports on relevant sales or marketing agency processes like the sales conversion rate, customer lifetime value, and customer retention rate.

Step 7: Continue Nurturing Customers

The sales process doesn’t end once your lead becomes a prospect and then a paying customer.

Customer success lies in your ability to retain existing clients and open an opportunity for cross-selling other related products or services. Or up selling the existing ones that they have previously purchased.

Customer success isn’t all about obtaining bigger and better profits. It’s also about offering something of value to foster a deeper relationship.

Keep in mind that customers want to be constantly taken care of and treated like kings and queens. So constant check-in with the client creates a great aftersales approach.

Days after the purchase, check in with clients to know if they’re content. Check in again a few weeks after purchase for issues or concerns.

Months after the purchase, check in with the client again to see if they’re still happy with their purchase and if they are, then ask for a referral. They’re more likely to give one if they’re satisfied!

Optimizing Your Marketing Agency Sales Process

Refine Your Sales Process Continuously

Now that you’ve created a suitable sales process for yourself, implement it with your marketing agency and test it. Again and again.

Give yourself one chance, and if you’re not happy with it, tweak it according to the reports from your marketing team. Measure the results again and fine-tune the sales process steps to improve the weaker parts that need improving.

Some questions to ask:

  • Is my outbound sales working for me?
  • Do my social channels target content creation for new clients?
  • Will expansion to one platform level up my content marketing and close more deals?
  • Is my marketing budget enough for current client work?

If you’re ready to max your revenue and optimize your sales process, ScaleTime is here for your agency.

Know what you’re selling, understand your goals and define your metrics, delegate sales and track your sales process progress with our Sales Toolkit.

Align Your Sales Process with the Buyer’s Journey

Pushing for sales and hard-selling is now a thing of the past. Likewise, sales tactics that aren’t based on the buyer’s needs are no longer as effective as they once were.

For success in today’s world, you’ve gotta align the sales process with the buyer’s journey.

A buyer’s journey is the path people take when making a purchase.

Even when if you’re looking at an impulse buy, the client still silently undergoes the process of becoming aware, considering, and deciding to purchase.

This journey challenges sales reps to better understand the buyer’s needs and know when to influence their thinking and decision-making at the right time with the tactics that will have the most impact.

Marketing Agency Sales Process

The buyer’s journey is composed of 3 stages:

1. Awareness stage — This is where the buyer acknowledges or recognizes they’ve got a problem.

SALES ACTION:

Help the client. This is the stage where you inform and educate clients but not in a pushy way. Instead, provide them with the resources that can help them.

2. Consideration stage — This is when the buyer thinks about and contemplates the options they have to solve the problem.

SALES ACTION:

Make clients understand how your products and services solve their problems. Studying how competitors affect buyers at this stage will also help gauge how you can successfully influence their perception.

3. Decision stage — This is the stage where the buyer decides and selects the answer to the problem

SALES ACTION:

Clarify any objections they might have to make your selling position unique. Assist buyers in selecting and choosing the right product and service for their needs.

Once the marketing team understands the buyer’s journey and behavior at certain places in it, it becomes much easier to incorporate the sales process, influence their decision, and select the right product or service for them.

Measure Results

To optimize the process, measure the results of the implemented steps.

For example:

  • Who are the prospects that moved to the next stage of the sales process?
  • What has made them move to the next step?
  • What can you do to improve these numbers?

Set benchmarks for conversions if you’re the founder, so they know what to hit when you bring on a sales team. Check on your competition’s performance and identify which areas you are good at and which areas to improve.

Always make the sales metrics visible to the sales team. This will create transparency and help motivate and inspire the sales team members in their performance, enhance their production, and design better sales strategies.

Sales Process vs. Sales Methodology

Marketing Agency Sales Process

As one of the final notes, remember not to confuse the sales process with sales methodology. These are concepts commonly interchanged but are separate yet related sales concepts.

The sales process is the steps and tasks needed to acquire new clients and close more deals. The sales process steps are the what of the sales team.

On the other hand, the sales methodology is the how or the framework that makes up sales processes and techniques. Sales methodology is the driving force behind recognizing a marketing agency’s need to expand through sales.

Also, it’s essential to consider the perfect methodology that works well with your sales team. This will significantly impact the sales process and attract and retain profitable clients.

Key Takeaway

Not all clients are quality clients, and not all marketing strategies will work in your favor.

Therefore, it is essential to consider carefully planning the sales process steps, using appropriate sales methodology, reviewing and assessing key performance indicators, and improving the entire marketing agency sales process to build strong relationships with your leads, prospects, existing and new customers.

Action steps:

  • Pinpoint your qualified lead demographics
  • Identify your target market and create marketing materials that resonate with your target audience
  • Determine your specific sales cycle
  • Map the buyer’s journey, and create sales collateral to close the deal
  • Track your metrics. Analyze, optimize, and repeat

Get quality sales with our Streamlined Sales Process for marketing agencies and watch your digital marketing agency grow and take on new heights!

Contact us today to learn more.

Marketing Agency Sales Process

Here are 3 Easy Solutions that Stop Scope Creep in your Digital Marketing Agency

Office employees managing scope creep

Aside from that time you discovered you lack resources and have feisty unpredictable clients, allowing scope creep to happen is the most dreaded moments in your project’s life cycle.

Scope creep is the wolf at the door of every digital marketing agency. But that doesn’t make the dreaded scope creeper an inevitable (and uninvited) guest at the project execution table. To strike the scope creep monster in the heart with a silver bullet, you need a suite of solutions and processes.

The good news is, with scope creep always lurking around the corner, you can still protect your project scope. We’ll give you easy and manageable solutions in this post.

Ready to beat that scope creep? Let’s hit it right between the eyes with the following agency weapons.

Download our Project Management Checklist

What are the signs of scope creep in project management?

Project scope creep happens when you encounter changes after implementing the project plan. When the client asks for additional tasks or makes change requests not included in the initial project scope document, it messes up the costs, resources, and the project timeline.

Unfortunately, it also messes you up, and that’s something you definitely don’t want.

Having different stakeholders in the mix entails a handful of minds running in different directions all at once. Too many cooks in the kitchen equals scope creep.

When the shadow of scope creep darkens the land of your digital marketing agency, your team members and clients will:

  • inputs into the planned task list
  • Suggest additional features not included in the original project requirements
  • Implement their own unsolicited opinions on the project team’s scope of work
  • Make other small requests that harsh your agency mellow

True, additional new features on the final output make the client happy and ecstatic. That’s all good. But along the way, if the requests have bypassed the change control process, it’s an indication of scope creep.

Can your agency handle scope creep?

Scope creep may start as a deviation from what was initially agreed upon and outlined in the project plan. As a project manager, you might be afraid to negotiate with new clients, so you accommodate any new change request that hits your inbox.

But then, just two weeks later, your team members have already missed deadlines!

What you need are boundaries.

Prevent scope creep: Your first line of defense

Setting boundaries and going with a planned project schedule helps manage scope creep and prevent it from further ruining your timeline.

In most cases, clients boundary-stomp inadvertently. They might think that making revision requests ASAP is doing you a favor. But if these change requests are made outside the scope of the original (or even modified) project brief, then it falls under the scope creep umbrella.

And these little twists and turns aren’t doing you any favors.

Project scope creep is that freeloader friend in your apartment, who doesn’t pay rent on time or take out the trash.

You’re oh so nice. So you don’t say anything. You simmer and brood instead.

Next thing you know, your crummy roommate is inviting over their party animal friends, eating your leftover lo mein, and doing shots off your heirloom Stickley coffee table

Despite all the boundary-stomping, maybe you don’t want the friendship to end. But you might have saved the relationship early by communicating the house rules and learning when to say no.

3 ways to prevent scope creep in your digital agency

Scope Creep Managment

So, how do you help you help your clients help you, and prevent scope creep? Let’s get into the top strategies for managing scope creep next.

Revisit the project scope and document all changes

The first strategy you’ll want to deploy is monitoring the project schedule after the planning process. Unfortunately, it’s usually in the project execution phase that project scope creep occurs. And when it happens it snowballs, becomes even harder to stop scope creep from taking over your project.

Example:

A client asks for a new website, complete with personal branding and product uploading. All is well in the land of new client projects.

But wait! Not so fast.

Your team members suddenly receive a call from the client seeking to change the color scheme and theme.

Ruh roh. This will affect your specialists’ and developers’ tasks and will undoubtedly divert from the originally agreed project scope.

Handling new requests on the fly

Digital marketing agencies can easily face this problem head on and prevent scope creep while changing with market demands and keeping clients happy, too.

How?

Project managers must formalize any deviation from the original project scope via a change control process.

Why does this work so well? Because it allows project managers to accurately track project requirements and project deliverables.

A modification, or change request, not included in the existing project plan must be meticulously documented to ensure the change is accounted for and that changes to the schedule are anticipated and addressed.

Balancing team member’s expertise and bandwidth

Managing scope creep adequately also means balancing your project team members’ expertise and time.

For example, when emergencies cause human resources to fall behind, or team members prefer working on better projects, these also lead to scope creep in the existing and future project timelines.

In addition, project plan alterations can mess up other projects and delay these projects’ timelines.

Start with clearer communication

A successful project outcome can’t happen if you and the client have poor communication skills. You need good two-way communication.

Remember the exchanging of information between two or more parties? Yep. That.

It helps the project manager avoid scope creep when everyone involved knows how to listen and respond. Plus, it lets you know you’re on the same page with the clients and contractors involved in the project and execution process.

Host a kickoff meeting first.

Throwing a kickoff meeting with project stakeholders and project team members prevents scope creep from hamstringing your team.

A kickoff meeting lets you outline all the project details, no matter how small. It should be the the first meeting you have with all the parties who will participate in execution of the project.

What does a kickoff meeting include?

Ask away and get the answers to these most important questions:

  • What’s the project scope and summary?
  • How will we handle bottlenecks and contingencies?
  • Who’s working together on which deliverables?
  • What’s a reasonable turnaround time for each milestone?

As a project manager, you must communicate with project participants. And it’s also crucial that you and everyone working on the project (and the client) fully understand the project scope document.

Avoid too much verbal-only communication

To manage scope creep adequately, you need to communicate in black and white. You need to document, document, document!

Why?

  • Documentation keeps people accountable
  • It prevents confusion
  • Everyone can stay on the same page

Contracts, spreadsheets, written agreements — the sky’s the limit.

Documentation action steps

As a project manager, be sure to double-check your most important documents, such as clients’ waivers and amendments.

Have collaborators review and sign the documents. Spend time reading everything. Clear up any misunderstandings regarding additional fees and tasks, so you aren’t shortchanged.

What happens if scope creep starts a’creepin’?

Once scope creep begins sneaking in, inform stakeholders of the current project status and what actions you and the team must take to avoid further diversion from the project scope.

Never mislead your clients or team members. And make sure you know when to say no to client requests that will knock the project off course.

Gently remind your clients of the original scope if necessary to avoid further misunderstandings.

Also, keep in mind that information dissemination is a two-way street.

Avoiding scope creep means listening to client feedback during project milestones. Let them know upfront what to expect, so you’re meeting their expectations and keeping your clients happy.

Project managers, it’s never too late to use powerful project management software

Digital agencies face scope creep more than most businesses out there. Fortunately, you’ve got tons of tools and software at your disposal.

Chances are, there’s app out there that can help with your specific project management issues.

At first, it might seem tricky to start, install, set up, and invest in the app’s premium features. But, you’ll see how the setup is worth it once you’re halfway through your project — scrambling through receipts, folders, and papers. Or hitting CTRL+F in your spreadsheets to locate something your team created yesterday. And no one can find it.

But we want to stress — picking a gem from the millions of software tools on the market isn’t enough to fully protect a project’s scope.

Managing project scope creep: Implement efficient project management software.

Managing scope creep

Project managers utilize the right tools to watch resource allocation, change control processes, firm parameters, specific details on project goal updates, and overall, complete project work.

An effective project management tool or app lets you automate and sync, so you can do more with your time, putting everything into place and passing on essential updates to your clients and your team. All in real-time.

Project management software lets you keep an eye on additional requests from the agreed-upon scope to avoid missing deadlines.

Additionally, it lets you see the big picture and observe human resource utilization and capacity and your budget and cost savings. Reports are also automatically generated to help you analyze data and forecast the need for extra contractors or team members.

Bottom line: Scope creep-proof your agency!

In an ideal setting, you create a project plan, meet with your client, brief your team, execute the project and move on to your next assignment.

But this is the real world. And in the real world, it’s not that simple.

There will always people and events that make scope creep happen and cause you to lose control of the project. Scope creep-proofing your digital marketing agency may not mean eliminating scope creep totally.

Instead, implementing the tools and processes necessary to prevent scope creep prepares you for it.

Preparation also helps minimize your worries of scope creep developing into a larger, unmanageable boulder blocking your way to project completion.

Implement these 3 easy solutions to avoid scope creep and save the day:

  • Monitor your project scope and record all the changes
  • Constantly communicate with project members
  • Use reliable project management tools

With these solutions, you’ll stop potential changes in your project scope in their tracks with ease.

No doubt about it.

Manage scope creep with the help of ScaleTime!

Our Agency Project Management Checklist gives you access to vital project requirements, including 80/20 must-haves, key document templates, valuable metrics, and other features that optimize your project and team members’ expertise.

Streamline your process and say goodbye to lack of productivity.

Download the checklist here.

How to Manage Scope Creep in Your Digital Marketing Agency

Managing scope creep is a key part of project management.

Look at you, plucky project manager. You’re on your way to your fourth and much-anticipated milestone — setting up the last few details of your project plan! Yes!

Put your dancing shoes on, ’cause you’re about to party after this successful closing.

But wait, what’s that? The phone. It’s ringing. And it’s your client.

Womp womp womp.

All they want is just a tiny change in the deliverables.

Ugh. You thought you were on the same page with them. But no. You’ve gotta take off the dancing shoes, and put on the shi$ kicker boots instead.

Now you’re worried the project will fail with a big, fat F.

Where will you get the additional funds?

How will you tell the contractors? Or adjust the timeline?

And will there be any other more changes in the future?

So many questions are running through your head. So much for the party after completing the project. Dreams. Crushed.

As a project manager, you’re expected to manage, and protect against, scope creep over the project schedule duration.

Scope creep management: Why you need it.

Scope creep management allows the entire team (and clients) to stay on track with project goals, protect everyone’s bandwidth from hidden agendas, maintain overall job breakdown structure, and balance resource allocation.

So, are you up to mitigating scope creep? Yes? Good. Let’s get your digital marketing agency streamlined and ready to take on anything — even those last minute client requests.

What is Project Scope Creep?

It’s not as pervy as it sounds. But scope creep is super annoying. Scope creep is that thing that happens when clients make those little requests throughout the project schedule, throwing off your carefully laid plans.

Scope creep issues drastically impact the project’s schedule, cost, or final deliverables. You can start out with a particular project and know precisely how long it will take to complete, what all the deliverables will look like, and what it will cost.

But darn that scope creep!

If you don’t get a handle on it early, you’ll end up with a completely different project at the end. And a stressed out team, and possibly irate clients.

It’s like going to a bakery for a custom cake. But when you go to pick up your chocolate cake with buttercream icing and a dusting of coconut shavings on top, you’re presented instead with a bicycle tied together with duct tape and a cardboard kickstand.

That is not what you signed up for.

So, these scope creep changes can, at most, entirely block the project’s progress. Or, they can result in different, low-quality deliverables.

Good news — hope is not lost when the scope starts creeping.

Learning how to avoid scope creep, and manage project scope with finesse is possible. It’s also a must if you want to advance in your career as a project manager. Changes in project scope are pretty much par for the course in this field of work.

Before we get into how to manage scope creep, let’s take a closer look at what often causes these hiccups in the road to successful project completion.

Common scope creep causes:

  • Miscommunication during the project planning phase. Goals end up being completely different
  • Outside forces like economic and environmental conditions impacting the project schedule
  • Project politics or leadership drama resulting in confusion among the project team members
  • Ad spend, milestone, or deliverable changes

This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the picture. Let’s dive into some examples of scope creep next.

Examples of what scope creep is and isn’t

Let’s take the example of a website client. The client asks for a slightly different website redesign that you and your team agreed on at a specific price. Technically, that’s not considered scope creep.

Maybe they want the Green Tea instead of Black Coffee theme. No biggie. It doesn’t cost anymore, or take anymore time to manage this change.

But this is scope creep:

Instead, the client tells you over the phone to add all the optimization, integrated social media accounts, and advertisements to your new site. This is more time. More money. And totally different sets of milestones.
It’s not just a redesign job anymore. This is way more involved and an example of scope creep.

Keep in mind, scope creep doesn’t always show up as a whole phase or section of the project being modified. Often it starts as tiny, minimal alterations to the original scope.

Adjusting the website to match the client’s new branding palette midway through the project, for example, would add unforeseen time to your team’s work schedule. This is way different than what you and the team bargained for, and would be classified as scope creep.

Most cases of scope creep are innocent.

But occasionally, one party might have a hidden agenda. A lack of awareness of scope creep can put your agency at risk from disingenuous clients who make a deal for one deliverable but plan to sneak other projects in under the same umbrella.

This is no bueno and it’s the type of scope creep you want to avoid at all costs.

Project Management and Scope Creep

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project scope is the work required to output the project deliverables.

Project managers must characterize the project scope at the outset. If alteration requests should occur, they must undergo a formal change management process. This protects everyone’s sanity from the insanity of a project going off the rails from scope creep.

What’s in a project’s scope? That which we call a creep by another other name is still a creep.

So, the scope of a project must include a breakdown of work to be done and instructions for any changes.

Any changes throughout the project must enforce a step-by-step procedure that follows the change management process.

Like so:

When it comes to working without a tight project scope, you’ve got to learn how to maximize your project method and use it to your team’s advantage.

Project failure comes in different forms, including:

  • Poor estimation and prioritization
  • Disagreement on how to handle changes
  • A lack of sign offs,
  • Missing review processes to manage change requests

Now that we’ve defined scope creep and project scope, let’s dive into how to avoid scope creep or mitigate scope creep should it occur.

How can you control scope creep?

Project scope creep happens to the best project management teams. Use these tools and tactics to keep your projects on task and in-budget as your team heads for the glorious finish line.

Create a project budget

Often, the biggest risk you can take on if you don’t wrangle that scope creep beast is budgeting issues. Wasted time is wasted money. And taking on seemingly small changes to the project that aren’t in the budget will nickel and dime your agency into the poorhouse.

So, protecting the project budget is mission critical.

The project budget should be adequately defined during the project’s planning phase. Include project stakeholders — your client and each team member — during the process. Agree on a precise project budget based on properly calculated estimates.

Deficient budget estimates in a project plan can cause delays in the later part of the project, which is a sure sign that scope creep is already developing. A comprehensible project budget will also limit requests for additional funding, if not totally eliminate them.

Estimations

Estimations should be based on proper research together with the project team. Collaborate on the estimates and avoid making wild guesses. When using a pricing model, consider both time and resources to develop a more precise estimate and prevent scope creep in project management.

As a digital marketing agency, progress payments are essential to ensuring your revenue or, at the very least, some working capital. Invoicing for work done in advance can also update you on the volume of work you’ve already completed and help you cover any ongoing expenses.

You must invest time considering all costs involved in the most efficient manner. Any budget proposals and cost breakdown issues should be cleared before executing the project.

That way, you can meet clients’ deliverables on time and uphold your agency’s reputation in carrying out the project scope.

Face ALL change requests

The best project managers handle each change request as it arises.

Getting back to change requests that arise during the project’s duration is one of the most critical responsibilities involved in scope management. Even though you know this is a tedious, time-consuming task, you’ve still got to do it.

In any project, scope creep arises from not answering these requests.

It may take up a whole day or just a few minutes before you clock out to answer these requests. But regardless, they need to be addressed promptly, no matter what.

Remember to inform all parties involved, so they know all the measures and steps necessary to fulfill amended project requirements and still ace at preventing scope creep. But more on communication later.

All the approved, rejected, and resolved change requests must be organized and logged in the project’s change plans.

According to PMI, this allows reviewing and adequately documenting all requests and integrating them while considering all possible project risks.

Conduct a special meeting called a risk workshop and include appropriate risk responses to minimize unforeseen considerations.

Create a timeline and stick to it.

A clear work breakdown structure helps reduce scope creep.

The ideal setup is creating a timeline and following it to the letter. However, in every project plan, there will always be unavoidable bumps.

The key here is simple:

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the allotted project timeline.

Define detailed requirements and milestones with project team members. Give space for contingencies and allow some wiggle room and flexibility while creating your timeline.

Doing so will assist you in maintaining your schedule and provide you with the opportunity to regroup and prioritize or de-prioritize tasks and change requests.

You also need to consider how quickly each team member can work so you’ll have an idea of how long they’ll take to complete the various assignments.

But not so fast — creating a timetable doesn’t end there.

You have to keep track of it consistently, religiously. Watch out for red flags outside your control like marketing conditions and global phenomena that may affect prices, contractors, and even clients’ businesses, which can trigger change requests.

Set REASONABLE boundaries

A lack of boundaries can lead to failed projects when scope creep occurs.

  • Don’t take on more than you can handle. Be willing to say no to a particular project phase when necessary.
  • Be transparent and practical when laying down the project limitations with a specific time, cost, and scope.
  • Include these in the scope management plan.
  • Don’t hesitate to inform key stakeholders of the realistic expectations on the project scope before work begins.

Addressing boundaries is also a confident move to preserve leadership and authority as a project manager. It minimizes a project’s complexity and keeps you in control of the situation and your schedule.

You may have said yes to a few requests. But the ability to contain the damage and work within the given resources should remain intact for the project’s duration.

Five-star communication

Communicative change control processes keeps the whole team in the loop

Constantly update all involved parties on the progress, timelines, missed deadlines, and expectations.

Poor communication can result in surprises — unpleasant surprises, that is.

Remember, changes in the agreed-upon scope with the key stakeholders and project sponsor are not considered scope creep.

On the other hand, scope creep is when you have poor communication among stakeholders, disorganized documentation of new features, and out-of-date change control systems. These issues doom projects to failure.

Your project deliverables may be reaching a five-star rating. But, if your project teams’ communication is merely a one-star meh, you need help addressing scope creep.

All new requests based on the original scope should undergo the standard change management process, including:

  • updating new features
  • Documenting project charter amendments
  • Ensuring you’re on the same page with modifications in the scope statement.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Laying out expectations, budgets, and having a process for managing scope creep change requests is critical for your agency’s reputation and revenue.

Bottom Line for Project Managers

Consider looking at scope creep positively. It’s a type of change, and change is the only thing permanent in this world.

If you can’t see what’s missing or putting unnecessary stress on your systems, then you’ll have no opportunity to grow into the best project manager EVAH if you don’t allow for some scope change as the project runs its course.

Sure, handling scope creep is a challenging part of being a project manager. But one of the good things for today’s project managers is that technology is readily available to help you see through the despair and onward to the wins of change.

Pro tip:

Monitor change requests, work progress, invoices, and payments through reliable project management software.

A handy project management tool paired with a powerful agency framework can help you unite your team and spare you from the effort of juggling phone calls and client visits while taking care of your spreadsheets.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Let ScaleTime show you the way to better project management.

Scope management plans for successful projects are made easy with ScaleTime. Handle scope creep in project management by optimizing your digital agency’s systems and processes. Let us help you automate and streamline your business by downloading the Agency Project Management Checklist here!

How to Know if We Have More Strategic Implementation Issues Than We Think

Strategic implementation is key to business performance.

Business strategy is the backbone of your company. It’s the strategic plan directing your company to the pathway of success and achieving your goals.

Well, that certainly sounds simple, right?

Not.

Constructing an effective business strategy plan is one thing. Implementing it though? That’s an entirely different, major step.

You’ve got to execute the implementation well to ensure the company’s competitive status in the market, continue its ventures, satisfy your customers, and achieve your goals.

In this post, we’ll break it down so you can spot these top signs of wonky implementation and straighten them out:

  1. The company isn’t growing anymore.
  2. Your employees aren’t responding to directives.
  3. Customers and partners don’t want to work with you.
  4. Competitors are catching up.
  5. Qualified employees are scarce.
  6. Growth has stalled and there’s no progress in the recent reports.
  7. You’re having difficulty making decisions.

But first, coffee.

Fill up that mug. We’re gonna get into your strategic planning must-haves first.

Your strategic planning must-haves

We’ve got to make sure your have the necessary resources, manpower, and systems in place that will conform to the strategies set forth in your plan.

So why is this important?

Because this is the deal-breaker in business. These courses of action will tell if the business plan is effective or not, and by not, we mean the plan is failing.

Sound easy? Not gonna lie. It’s kind of hard.

But the things which are hard, are most worth doing.

Executing business strategies is another big challenge to conquer.

What makes the implementation so difficult? Where do problems come from? What are the key performance indicators (KPIs)? Is it the company’s method, manpower, or the systems?

Strategic issues are conflicts or problems without apparent solutions. Because if there is an obvious solution, the question is, why wasn’t it addressed in the first place?

Identifying all the issues with strategy execution in strategic management exposes the strategy’s cracks and helps you determine the next course of action.

So, let’s discuss the major signs pointing to any underlying cracks in your strategic implementation process.

1.  The company isn’t growing

A new business venture needs to meet the goals and objectives of its key stakeholders.

Growth is the most important factor to measure a business’s success. A growing company means it’s expanding in multiple ways.

Although there’s no single way to measure growth, we have different points where we can determine if the company is becoming stagnant or isn’t growing anymore.

  • Profits and losses reports are not changing.
  • Office tasks are repetitive.
  • You’re not getting new customers.

We may think that it’s easy to spot these signs. But finding out which parts of the strategic plans are the root causes of these issues is the real challenge.

Maybe, the strategic planning process is too slow responding to current changes in the marketplace. Technology, disasters, political conflicts, and pandemics are factors that may not be addressed in strategic implementation.

Still, as we see nowadays, these issues affect businesses in ways we haven’t witnessed before.

The bottom line is, you can’t just react. You have to anticipate. As such, a successful strategy implementation process must be action-oriented.

2.  Employees aren’t responding to directives

A plan is just a plan if the team responsible don't support successful implementation.

If the strategic plan is the backbone of the business, then, employees are the most critical resources. So, helping them engage in the company and reach their full potential can be rewarding for both the employer and the employee.

But at the same time, it can be disappointing if employees don’t carry out their given instructions or accomplish their specific tasks. This is a sign pointing to something wrong in the strategic implementation plan.

Top reasons why employees become unresponsive

The main reasons employees underperform and become unresponsive are:

  • They don’t know what is expected from them
  • The company’s environment doesn’t empower team effort
  • The tasks delegated to employees don’t align with their skills or level of capability
  • They don’t feel they are contributing to the company, so they don’t feel appreciated.

Solving this issue requires reviewing the key components in implementation planning and highlighting how employees can participate in the company as decision makers.

As a result, employees and team members involved will be empowered. They’ll understand how their efforts contribute directly to the company’s progress — while also allowing them to grow personally and financially.

3. Customers and partners don’t want to work with you

Strategic objectives are key to ensuring buy in from clients and other stakeholders.

Customers are the lifeblood of the business. They provide the cash that keeps the brand alive. So, their needs are the foundation of the product or service we offer and propel the company’s further development.

But how do you know if customers aren’t satisfied?

  • They rarely or never complain because they’re tired of doing so.
  • They don’t care about special offers.
  • They rely on the contract conditions because they don’t trust customer service anymore.

To ensure success, you have to understand your customers’ concerns and let them know you hear them and will respond. You’ve got to review your business plan and present an immediate solution to the customer’s complaints.

On the other hand, business partners might need to give you additional access to funding, resources, innovation, and knowledge to help you reach more customers successfully. But what if your business partners don’t want to work with you anymore?

That often indicates strategic plan issues.

Some telltale signs a business partnership is about to end:

  • Collapse in communication
  • Business partner is no longer contributing
  • Frequent conflicting business decisions
  • Changes in partner’s goals

You can’t ignore these warning signs. You must have an open discussion with your wavering partner and let them voice their concerns without judgment. It’s also a good idea to seek outside help or a third party to mediate and resolve the problems.

4.  Competitors are catching up or overtaking your brand in the market

Day-to-day performance management includes staying ahead of the competition.

Keeping your thumb on the pulse of your business competitors is a significant factor in your brand’s ultimate success.

Aside from the current competition you have, new contenders are constantly entering the market. And that’s why it’s important to know where you stand amongst the competition.

So, how do you know if your competitors are catching up or overtaking your brand?

While comparing revenue is the easiest way to know who’s leading the pack, there are other signs indicating if competitors are pulling in more marketshare. And by extension, your clientele:

  • Clients or customers are querying about new products
  • Customers’ feedback is changing
  • You’re missing opportunities for innovation
  • The availability of resources has changed

Good strategic planning with an emphasis on the key initiatives of the sales and marketing teams will prevent your business from drowning in the competition. Know your competitors, what they’re up to, and what they’re offering in the marketplace.

Competing is about retaining and attracting new customers. Knowing your target customers and how their expectations are changing will help you adjust the strategic plan so the product or service you offer remains appealing.

Check the latest craze in social media since it’s the easiest way to assess the market.

5.  You can’t find qualified employees

Adequate resources - both financial resources and human resources - are needed for project success.

Qualified employees are needed to execute the strategic plan successfully.

Although the unemployment rate has gone down, believe it or not, finding qualified employees is still one of the biggest struggles in the business industry.  The reasons are the demand for qualified employees surpasses the supply, salary, location of the company, changes in the needs of the employees, and a flawed hiring process.

How can we solve these problems and get all the necessary skills in the company from new hires? Consider an organizational change and review the business plan. Fix each of the issues mentioned above.

Here are some of the ways to overcome this particular business challenge:

  • Build the company’s reputation.
  • Don’t settle for less. Make use of the interview process to assess and screen the qualifications of each applicant.
  • Adapt to the needs of employees, and allow employees to work remotely if possible.
  • Add cool, unique perks and benefits.
  • Build a consistent and organized hiring process.

Button up your hiring process with our FREE Hiring Toolkit.

6.  Growth has stalled and there’s no clear way forward

A successfully implemented performance management system will be visible in the company's metrics.

Businesses, whether big or small, often experience rapid growth at first. But then growth significantly slows for some reason.

When we focus solely on selling products or services, we often forget the importance of strategy and innovation. As a result, the business growth plateaus.

So, what are the most common culprits behind business growth slowdown?

  • A weak or outdated strategic policy plan
  • Flawed pricing technique
  • Leadership has become too complacent
  • You’re playing it safe

Tossing money aggressively at the problems won’t solve them. It’s time to go back to the strategic plan and see what can be fixed.

Here are some ways to address this problem and give the business a new direction:

  • Re-evaluate the strategy plan and update it so it’s relevant to market changes.
  • Don’t focus on lowering the prices. Instead, try adding value to the product or service.
  • Don’t blend in. Stand out in a crowded market.
  • Bring back the enthusiasm, reignite the passion, and make tough organizational decisions.

As soon as the problems are resolved, start moving forward and shift direction to invigorate new life into the business.

7.  You’re struggling with decision making

Using a SWOT analysis can help identify the strategic initiatives needed from upper management.

An effective strategic implementation boils down to the ability of the team to make fast and precise decisions about which course of actions the organization should take.

But if the team struggles to make these critical decisions, it can impede the company’s growth and survival.

Why is making decisions quickly and precisely so difficult?

Fear.

The fear of making the wrong decision and suffering negative consequences stops the team from doing it in the first place. In some cases, the organization may not have the sufficient resources or the right tools to help the team comprehend and handle a significant problem. Also, the team making the big decisions may not know enough about the problem, and so, can’t come up with a good solution.

No matter how complicated or straightforward the decisions are, we can do something to outline the fundamentals for great-decision making practice.

Here are some:

  • Empower the team and encourage them to learn from failures.
  • Seek an outside expert’s help if necessary.
  • Be transparent with your team.

Honesty, and fostering a company culture of growth and learning prevents people from shying away from making the necessary, tough decisions.

Conclusion

When these not-so-obvious pitfalls in business are detected early, it’s much easier to solve them or avoid them altogether.

Strategic planning and successful implementation and execution aren’t a leap of faith. They’re an outcome of a thorough, critical study and implementation of sound, fundamental business practices.

So, your action steps:

  • Be brave enough to pivot and change direction
  • Keep an eye on your competitors and revamp your offerings to exceed consumer expectations
  • Seek outside, expert help if necessary
  • Button up your hiring processes
  • Foster a company culture of honesty, growth, and learning
  • Empower your team members to learn from their mistakes
  • Communicate effectively with customers and business partners

Feel like something is off with your business processes, but aren’t sure what it is? Take our FREE agency growth assessment quiz to see where things are falling short. We’ll send you a bundle of resources tailored to scaling your agency.

Let’s do it!

How to Write a Performance Improvement Plan with a Template

A Performance Improvement Plan Template makes Improving Employee Performance a breeze.

What’s the best thing to do when there are employees with recurring performance issues? Fire them?

Nah, just kidding!

If you’ve got an underperforming employee, then you need to administer a performance improvement plan.

Why?

Because a performance improvement plan does a bang up job addressing their recurring behavioral or performance issues.

Bottom line, a performance improvement plan will help them improve their work performance and turn things around.

But wait. There’s more!

Not only will a performance improvement plan do all that and a bag of chips, but it will also boost company culture and employee morale — which in turn benefits the business or project.

So, now that you know all the high-level benefits of administering a performance improvement plan, how do we write a performance improvement plan that’s effective, succinct, and gets the job done?

Let’s dive in.

What is a Performance Improvement Plan?

In a nutshell, a performance improvement plan (PIP), also known as a performance action plan, is a formal document containing the employee’s performance issues. It also contains the action plans and steps needed to make necessary improvements.

A project implementation plan includes specific examples of the expectations the underperforming employee failed to meet. This includes things like low work quality and productivity. The plan also contains a list of goals with corresponding deadlines and the potential consequences if deadlines and goals aren’t met.

So contrary to the negative perception of PIP — that it is just formality before termination — the actual function of this tool is for the managers and HR to work with employees who have notable performance shortcomings and give them the chance to step up their game. 

Performance improvement plans are a strategic investment in employees who need more support to comply with the company’s performance standards.

When to Administer a Project Implementation Plan

One of the common questions managers ask is:

Do you have to implement a performance action plan for all employees?

Nope.

At ScaleTime, we only administer a PPI when our team member has chronic behavioral or performance problems. So if they committed one mistake, you don’t need a PPI because that would be counter-productive. And a little heavy handed.  

So, when is a PPI warranted?

We only give PPI to employees who’ve been struggling and have failed to meet the company’s expectations repeatedly.

Managers can often identify disengaged employees. But just to be sure, review their performance and see if there’s a negative trend.  

If the employee in question has recurring performance deficiencies, ask if action plans would correct them.

Usually, issues that fall under this category are related to:

  • Work quality
  • Meeting goals
  • Meeting deadlines

If the performance issues are related to any or all of the bulleted areas, then you can correct their issues with a performance implementation plan.

How to Create a Performance Improvement Plan

There’s no universal way of writing a PIP, so don’t worry if you’ve encountered different answers in your how to write a performance improvement plan question.

But if we really want to create an effective performance improvement plan that delivers results, we should take note of the following.  

Address the current performance issues

Understanding each performance issue is the first step to workplace success.

We can’t address the problem if we don’t know what the issues are. Same with preparing a performance improvement action plan for your underperforming employee.

The first step in this process is to pinpoint specific areas your employee needs to improve, so we can prepare the best roadmap for them.

Also, if the employee has had other past performances issues, assuming that it’s already been addressed, fogeddaboudit. Focus solely on the current subject.

Outline a plan for improvement

HR Professionals recommend using plans and following guidelines.

The PIP should include the steps needed to achieve the desired outcomes.

For example:

Does your employee need to attend more training and be given more assignments?

What actions can they take to correct their performance or behavior?

So, help them succeed. Outline the plan for improvement.

Set measurable goals and timelines

The plan must include the time period and end date at which the HR department will review.

Goals and timelines are critical components in your performance improvement plan. However, we can’t set goals and timelines that aren’t feasible. So the key is to set achievable and measurable goals.

Also, when setting up a goal, aim to make it SMART, or it might be too vague for your employee.  

SMART goals are:

  • Specific — Clearly state the goals are so your employee knows what needs to be done and why they need to do it.
  • Measurable — The goals should have metrics so that you and your employee can track their progress. Plus, it could motivate them once they see even a slight improvement in themselves. 
  • Achievable — Be realistic when setting goals in the PIP. Don’t expect your employee to improve drastically after day one. And make sure the goals are attainable so the PIP is successful. 
  • Relevant — The goals should align with what you want your employee to achieve and the efforts they need to take.
  • Time-bound — Add target dates or timelines the employee must follow.

Assign responsibilities to specific people in the organization

Continuity on the part of the employer is key so that results of previous discussions are not lost.

Management creates a performance improvement plan. But management isn’t solely responsible for the entire process. So, be sure to distribute the workload to the appropriate personnel in your company.

For example, assign a department to help your employee in their training or a supervisor to oversee their progress.

Make sure the people you delegate responsibilities to have the right background and expertise to help your employee improve performance.

Provide feedback on how well they’re meeting their responsibility

Employers should offer a certain amount of feedback and guidance.

One factor that significantly influences an employee’s motivation is feedback. If they know their progress is appreciated, no matter how big or small, they’ll strive harder to be better at their job.

Just the same, we must be straightforward in giving critical feedback, especially if you aren’t seeing any progress. Let your employee know they have to reach at least a satisfactory standard or face the consequences.

By keeping them accountable, we help them move forward.

Monitor progress and provide additional coaching as needed

Measure success by progress towards the agreed goals.

We have to monitor our underperforming employees regularly. By doing so, we prevent them from going off track.

If an employee fails to meet the agreed goals, then you’ll need to ask them questions and find out precisely where they’re struggling.

You can do this during follow-up meetings so you can provide additional coaching or resources.

How to share performance improvement plans

A Performance Improvement Plan should never come out of the blue.

The manager or direct supervisor should have discussed the employee’s performance with them before receiving a performance action plan. This usually happens during performance review sessions. So it’ll come as no surprise if the employee gets awarded PIP.

The thing is, we don’t simply deliver the document to the employee. Whether we like it or not, we have to meet them to discuss the plan personally and set expectations.

We want to make sure your employee clearly understands the required corrective action and why it must be taken. Also, encourage the employee to share their ideas or provide feedback in case you miss some essential factors that could make the plan more effective.

Once done, we can incorporate their suggestions in the final PIP and proceed to implementation.

Performance Improvement Plan Template

Many performance improvement templates are available in PDF and Word files. On the other hand, you can also create your own, following the format of the template below:

[Employee]

[Manager]

[Date]

Purpose for Performance Improvement Plan

Here, we define the reason for PIP and the expected outcome. We can also include the employee’s roles and overall performance that led to this corrective action. 

Performance Improvement Plan

This part should enumerate the employee’s responsibilities that they failed to meet. It also should include specific examples or scenarios of behavioral or performance discrepancies. 

For example: 

Issue 1: You are expected to arrive on time. 

  • In the past x months, you have a record of x tardiness. 

Issue 2: You are expected to make x sales in a week. 

  • You only made x sales.  

And so on… 

Performance Improvement Action Plan

List down the activities the employee must take to correct their performance and the timeline. 

Resources

We don’t want to just give the letter without providing any resources. This part will list down all the resources and support that the employee will receive from the organization.

Other Sections 

You can also add other sections that you think can be relevant to the plan.

[Signatures and Date]

Don’t forget to use a formal tone and incorporate the things we mentioned above when you’re writing your PIP!

What Do You Need to Do

Project implementation plans can be nerve-wracking for both the manager and employee. The negative connotation surrounding PIPs often makes the conversation awkward and uncomfortable.

So as project managers, we must assure our team members that a project implementation plan is more than just disciplinary action or an initial stage before the employee is demoted or terminated. 

Instead, it’s a strategic investment and effective tool that helps them advance their careers. PIPs show employees that you’re invested in their success by addressing and correcting their recurring mistakes, and that the PIP isn’t a termination formality.

So whenever we write a performance improvement plan, we have to communicate our objectives clearly and ensure that the employee understands the true purpose of a PIP — which is to help them reach their peak potential. 

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

PIPs are the cure and while they work, their’s an easier way to run your agency. Tighten up your hiring and employee onboarding process to prevent performance issues down the road.

Get your FREE Employee Hiring and Onboarding Checklist HERE.

How Does Client Onboarding Work?

client onboarding in action x3

When a new client comes aboard, they need to be welcomed with open arms and shown the ropes. The onus is on you, as their new business partner, to set expectations early, and to WOW them from day one!

Client onboarding is a simple process that can help you do just that. By offering a simple, seamless, and informative client onboarding process, you can help your clients get up to speed, and set the tone for a successful and long-lasting relationship.

But what exactly is client onboarding and how does it work? Follow along as we explain just that so that you (and your client) can set sail on a glorious adventure together.

What Is Client Onboarding?

Client onboarding refers to the experience your clients have with your business during the brief period of time between when they choose to work with you and the time that you begin working with them.

Not unlike a first, second, and third date all wrapped into one, it’s during this brief period of time when your clients can get to know you, as well as for you to acquire the information you need to get started helping them.

Just like dating, client onboarding is also an opportunity for your business to set expectations early—in a simple, streamlined, and user-friendly way—to ensure a mutually-beneficial relationship.

Why Is Client Onboarding Important?

Client onboarding is important for many reasons. For one, it sets expectations (and boundaries) early, so that your clients can know what to expect from you (and when they’re asking too much). It can also help you streamline your sales process—facilitating a smooth transition from prospect to active client, and help you ‘wow’ your clients with a cohesive and seamless brand experience.

Last but not least, client onboarding can significantly improve your ability to satisfy and retain your clients. It’s no surprise that happy clients stick around longer. And a seamless onboarding experience is your opportunity to identify your clients’ needs and expectations from the start. By setting the stage early, you can take steps to ensure that you’re always meeting—and exceeding—their goals, guaranteeing they will want to stay with you longer.

Want to learn more about how onboarding can help your business? Check out our post Why Client Onboarding Matters? for more information.

How Client Onboarding Works In 4 Simple Stages

1. Get to Know Your Clients

If you don't know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you get there. The same concept holds true for managing client expectations. Setting expectations at the start of your client onboarding process can help ensure you know what your client expects from you (and vice-versa).

You can easily get to know your clients and anticipate their needs by using a system to document everything you might need to know about them at the start of your engagement. This should include their answers to questions regarding general expectations that they have for your business, what metrics they value for measuring success, and, even, ground rules for communicating, among other details.

2. Meet With Your Clients

You can further discuss expectations (and set boundaries) during a ‘kick-off call’—a formal meeting for you and your client to connect personally. Kickoff calls generally last between 10 and 30 minutes and are your opportunity to be clear about the expectations and obligations each member of their team has for your business. Likewise, they’re also a chance for you to follow up regarding any pertinent information you acquired through your questionnaire.

Kick off calls are also prime time to gather any information you or your team needs from your client to begin working with them effectively and efficiently. You can do this by asking the members of your team to think about what information they need to accomplish their respective goals for the client, and by including their questions and requests in your kickoff call agenda.

3. Follow up with Your Clients

With your kickoff call behind you, it’s time to document what was agreed upon, define your client’s metrics, set up your client’s dashboards, and follow up.

At this stage, it’s important to identify what metrics matter most to your client when tracking and measuring their progress. This can ensure that the metrics you track–and the platforms you use to track them–align with what your clients value. By defining your these things early on, you can ensure you’re always tracking the right things in the right ways, and communicating trends transparently–in ways your client understands.

In the same vein, you’ll also want to check in with your client to see if they have any questions, issues, or comments following your initial kickoff call. This is why promptly following up–sometime after your first meeting–can be especially helpful.

Pro tip: Seal the deal by following up with a custom-made “client welcome pack,” to reassure your client’s decision to work with you, and prove any other pertinent information they might need to get started.

4. Nurture The Client Relationship

Nurturing your client’s relationship with you is just as important as the initial consultation. You can ensure you’re consistently nurturing your client’s relationship by periodically checking in with them following your first meeting.

By keeping in touch with your clients, you can gain valuable feedback from them to tell if you’re meeting (or exceeding) their expectations, as well as have the opportunity to ask questions and address any issues they’ve encountered, before they become a bigger issue.

Optimize How You Onboard New Clients!

Sold on the benefits of client onboarding, but not sure how to do it right?

Download our FREE Client Onboarding Hacks Guide to learn all the specific, concrete steps you can take to completely revolutionize how you onboard new clients!

We’ll expand on the aforementioned stages even further–providing you with a comprehensive game-plan for what to do and how to do it at every phase of your onboarding process. What’s more, we’ll provide suggestions and tips for making the most of your engagements–so you check the right boxes–every time–and save up to 40 hours a week in the process.

Check it out today to take your client onboarding process to the next level!

Why Client Onboarding Matters

client onboarding meeting x2

Wahoo!!! You just closed a sale, won a brand new client, and have a purchase order in the books to prove it. Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and rake that money in.

Hold on there cowboy. Not so fast.

The moment a prospect becomes a client, their experience with your business paves the way for what they can expect moving forward. It’s during this short, albeit momentous period of time when your clients will acquire the information they need to work with you, and complete the necessary steps to do so effectively.

This process–not unlike a first date–sets the tone for your clients’ relationship with your business. Which means that making a great first impression (and second, and third) can do wonders for how you interact in the future.

In this short post, follow along as we explain what client onboarding really is and why it matters, and find out how paying attention to how you onboard clients can help your business succeed.

Definition – What Is Client Onboarding?

Client onboarding refers to the experience your clients have with your business during the brief period of time between when they choose to work with you and the time that you begin working with them. Just like that first date, it’s your opportunity to get to know each other, set expectations and boundaries early, and discover what it’s like to work together.

By offering a simple, seamless, and informative client onboarding process, you can help your clients get up to speed and know what to expect, while setting the tone for a successful and long-lasting relationship.

Why Client Onboarding Is Important

Just like how the TSA makes for a more enjoyable (and safe) experience when departing on a business trip, client onboarding is a formal process that can help you set the stage for a healthy and happy business relationship with your clients.

By showing your clients what you have to offer them and setting their expectations early, you can help them learn the ropes–and teach them how to behave–every time they interact with you.

Onboarding can also help a lot with retaining your clients once they’re on board. By demonstrating your value early on and making a great first impression, you can form the basis for a healthy client relationship that ensures their utmost satisfaction. This can help ensure they stick around longer, or indefinitely, without you having to spend more money acquiring new clients.

Why Client Onboarding Matters For Your Business

Client onboarding can help your business…

Set Expectations Early

The key to a successful business relationship is maintaining your client’s expectations. If you don’t, it can affect everything from the beginning of their time working with you through up until the time they switch to another provider. That’s why setting clear-cut guidelines for how you go about things—including scheduling meetings and handling requests—can be so helpful in helping you clients understand what they can expect from your business. An effective onboarding process can streamline the process entirely, by establishing ground rules and ensuring that clear expectations and objectives are set from the start.

Establish Common Ground

At ScaleTime, we like to think of onboarding as your opportunity to get the ball rolling with minimal friction and maximum friendliness. That’s because onboarding is an effective way for you and your team to quickly connect with your clients and establish common ground on the basis of mutual interest and agreement. In addition to setting expectations early, this can create the foundation for a healthy long-term relationship based on mutual understanding and trust.

Ensure Your Client’s Satisfaction

It’s not uncommon for many client’s to have experienced a far-from-stellar onboarding experience in the past. By implementing a smooth onboarding experience right from the start, you can pleasantly surprise your clients with both your efficiency and professionalism. And, by knowing what they expect from your business, you can ensure you’re actively taking steps to exceed their expectations. This can bind your clients to your company more closely and help retain them longer.

Demonstrate Your Brand Value

Your onboarding process is your opportunity to show your clients that they made the right choice to work with your business. It’s also your chance to demonstrate what makes you unique. A streamlined and simple client experience will help create a good first impression where it counts most—differentiating your brand and demonstrating your value early on. Paired with a cohesive brand experience, a sound onboarding experience can set you up for success from the very beginning of your relationship.

Secure Even More Business

Interesting-fact: Bain & Company has found that companies that use just 20% of their client acquisition budget to improve their client experience can increase their revenues by as much as 200%! How so? Happy clients stay with you longer and will often refer you to other people—effectively doing your marketing for you! By satisfying your clients with a simple, spotless process, you’ll increase client retention and spend less money on client acquisition!

Upgrade Your Client Onboarding Today!

Ready to improve how you onboard new clients?

Check out our FREE Client Onboarding Hacks Guide to find out how you can implement a simple, seamless, and effective client onboarding process that’s guaranteed to impress your clients! But that’s not all–you’ll learn not just what to do but how to do it right, every time. From establishing client expectations and setting clear communication guidelines to ingenious ways to impress your clients, you’ll learn how to avoid the most common client headaches and save up to 40 hours(!) a week in time.

Check it out today to take your onboarding experience to infinity and beyond!

What Makes A Good Project Manager

project manager leading meeting

Hiring a project manager?

Many people know project managers only by what they do: kickoff calls, project schedules, budgets and charts. Processes and procedures designed to help them help you stay on top of your projects. But that merely scratches the surface of what makes a project manager good at what they do.

In truth, while others flounder over projects like a fish out of water, project managers stay calm, cool, and collected. They keep things running smoothly, get the job done on time, and leap over hurdles as gracefully as a swan in mid-flight.

But just how do they do it? And what should you look for to ensure the next one you hire can do it too? Find out what it takes to be a good project manager in this insightful post.

Stellar Communication

project manager solving a problem

Good project managers and good communication are synonymous.

Not only will they put systems in place in order to keep things on track throughout all phases of a project, but clearly communicate statuses, deadlines, milestones, and achievements to ensure that everything is on track.

Download our Project Management Checklist

Strong Problem Solving Ability

project manager practicing teamwork

Being able to quickly solve problems–on the spot and on the fly–and especially on behalf of stakeholders–is perhaps the greatest skill that a PM can possess. After all, whether they’re discussing campaign performance or communicating with a client, good project managers need to adapt quickly and pivot on their feet.

Moreover, when working with team members, strong problem-solving and communication skills come hand in hand, granting PM’s with the seemingly magical ability to wrap their head around complex problems in minutes, and explain them to team members or stakeholders in seconds–and in ways that make sense to them.

The lesson: when looking for a project manager for your business, find one who’s good at rapidly understanding problems, as well as coming up with (and communicating) realistic solutions to solve them.

Delegation Avoids Disaster

In life and in business, you can’t do it all yourself. To avoid disaster, you have to learn to ask for help.

That’s why outstanding project managers know that delegation is one of the most important parts of their job. By delegating tasks to the right people, PM’s are able to balance the workload between team members to get everything done on time.

Moreover, by identifying the right person for the right job, good project managers learn to let Doug in marketing, Lucy in finance, and Mark in sales, do what they do best.

By delegating tasks based on skill set (not based on who has the lightest workload) PMs are able to ensure that tasks meet their deadlines and execute flawlessly each time–making the entire team more productive and efficient as a result.

Pro tip: For the project manager of your own agency, look for one who jumps at the chance to get to know your team members and who delegates tasks based on their own unique skill sets.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

project manager being honest

Mistakes happen.

All the more so for projects with multiple deadlines, stakeholders, and goals.

That’s why for project managers, it’s best to be honest and forthright with clients. As well as to handle blunders with a no small degree of tact. After all, there may be some information best left not disclosed with clients–and it’s always better to let someone have it your way.

Discovering the balance between honesty, tact, and concealment is an essential quality of the project manager’s role, and something to certainly look for when finding one for your agency.

Enthusiastic & Emphatic

good project manager being enthusiastic

Trick question: what do the words gusto, spirit, ardor, zest, verve, or chutzpah have in common?

They all describe the energy of the very best of project managers.

How so? It’s simple: the best project managers rally others around getting stuff DONE!

And, they easily do that by being the most enthusiastic (and empathetic) person in the room.

Project managers not only care (deeply) about the work their team is doing–but take the lead to make sure it happens on time.

By being enthusiastic about the work, and empathizing with the needs of the people they manage, they can encourage team members to get stuff done on time and to spec–with as little hand-holding (or hand-ringing) as possible.

Looking To Find The Best Project Manager For Your Business? Let Us Help

Hiring a new project manager for your agency?

Need help finding the perfect one?

Schedule your free strategy session to find out how we can help you secure a first-rate project manager for your business or agency–so that you can get stuff done on time (and on budget) and grow your business faster than a caffeinated cheetah.

How to Manage Scope Creep in Your Digital Marketing Agency

You are currently on your way to your fourth milestone: setting up the last few details of your project plan, ready to party after a successful closing.

Your phone rings: the client wants to request a change in the deliverables.

You thought you were on the same page with them, but now you are sure the current project will fail. Where will you get the additional funds? How will you tell the suppliers? How will you adjust the timeline? Will there be any other changes in the future?

So many questions are running through your head. So much for the party after completing the project. Dreams. Crushed.

As a project manager, you are expected to manage, if not avoid, scope creep over the project schedule duration. Scope creep management allows the entire team to stay on track with project goals, avoid hidden agendas, maintain overall job breakdown structure, and balance resource allocation.

Are you up to mitigate scope creep? Then, let’s get your digital marketing agency ready.

 

What is Project Scope Creep?

When project managers encounter change requests on the project requirements during the implementation of the project schedule, project scope creep happens. These may block the project’s progress or result in different or low-quality deliverables.

Causes of scope creep may include the following:

  • Miscommunication during project planning
  • Outside forces like economic and environmental conditions
  • Project politics or ‘leadership drama’ which leads to confusion between the project team members

Let’s take the example of a website client. If the client asks for a website redesign that you and your team agreed on at a specific price, that would not be considered scope creep. However, if the client then tells you over the phone call to add all the optimization, integrated social media accounts, and advertisements, you would instantly recognize that as scope creep.

But scope creep doesn’t always show up as a whole phase or section of the project being modified. Often it starts as tiny minimal alterations to the original scope. Adjusting the website to match the client’s new branding palette mid-way through the project, for example, would add unforeseen time to your team’s work schedule, and would be classified as scope creep.

Most cases of scope creep are innocent, but occasionally one party might have a hidden agenda. A lack of awareness of scope creep can put your agency at risk from disingenuous clients, who make a deal for one deliverable but plan to sneak other projects under the same umbrella.

Project Management and Scope Creep

We all know what project scope is. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), “project scope is the work required to output the project deliverables.” The scope should be characterized clearly, and any alterations should only be conducted under a formal change management process.

The scope of a project includes a breakdown of work to be done and instructions for any changes. Any changes throughout the project must be controlled through a structured change management procedure.

When it comes to working without a tight project scope, you must learn how to maximize your project method and use it to your team’s advantage. In agile projects, for example, the overall project is broken down into smaller stories which is an excellent way of managing scope creep. In addition, it welcomes changes openly as part of the customer’s competitive advantage. The Agile method manages projects by diving into the details and the calendar.

But because Agile teams lack a fixed scope, project failure comes in the forms of poor estimation and prioritization, disagreement on how to handle changes, and missing processes to manage change requests.

How can a Project Manager Control Scope Creep?

Create a project budget

The project budget should be adequately defined during the project’s planning phase. Include project stakeholders – both your client and each team member – during the process and agree on a precise project budget based on properly calculated estimates.

Poor budget estimates in a project plan can cause delays in the later part of the project, which is a sure sign that scope creep is already developing. A comprehensible project budget will also limit requests for additional funding if not totally eliminate it.

Estimations should be based on proper research together with the project team. Collaborate on the estimates together and avoid making wild guesses. When using a pricing model, consider both time and resources to develop a more precise estimate and prevent scope creep in project management.

As a digital marketing agency, progress payments are essential to ensure your revenue or, at the very least, some working capital. Invoicing for work done in advance can also update you on the volume of work you have already completed and cover any ongoing expenses.

Project managers must invest time considering all costs involved in the most efficient manner. Any budget proposals and cost breakdown issues should be cleared before executing the project to meet clients’ deliverables on time and uphold your agency’s reputation in carrying out the project scope.

Face ALL change requests

Getting back to change requests that arise during the project’s duration is one of the most critical responsibilities involved in scope management. As a human, you know that this is a tedious, time-consuming task you must face.

In any project, scope creep arises in not answering these requests. It may take up a whole day or just minutes before you end your work, but they need to be addressed and given attention. Keep in mind to inform parties involved so they know all the measures and steps to fulfill amended project requirements and still ace preventing scope creep (more on communication later!).

All the approved, rejected and resolved change requests must be logged in the project’s Perform Integrated Change Control process. According to PMI, this allows reviewing and adequately documenting all requests and integrating them while considering all possible project risks. Conduct a special meeting called a ‘risk workshop’ and include appropriate risk responses to minimize unforeseen considerations

Create a timeline (and stick to it!)

The ideal setup is creating a timeline and following it to the dot. But in every project plan, there will always be unavoidable bumps and humps. The key here is simple: be realistic about what you can accomplish in the project timeline allotted.

Define detailed requirements and milestones with project team members. Give space for contingencies and allow some wiggle room and flexibility while creating your timeline. Doing so will assist you in maintaining your schedule and provide you with the opportunity to regroup and prioritize or deprioritize tasks and change requests.

You also need to take into account the expertise of your team members so you have an idea of how long it takes to work on an assignment.

Creating a timetable does not end there. You have to keep track of it consistently, religiously. Watch out for red flags outside your control like marketing conditions and global phenomena that may affect prices, suppliers, and even clients’ businesses which can trigger change requests.

Set REASONABLE boundaries

Don’t take on more than you can handle, and be willing to say no to a particular project phase when necessary.

Be transparent and practical when laying down the project limitations with a specific time, cost, and scope. Include these in the scope management plan. Don’t hesitate to inform key stakeholders of the realistic expectations on the project scope before the project begins.

Addressing boundaries is also a confident move to preserve leadership and authority as a project manager. It minimizes the complexity of a project and keeps you in control of the situation and your schedule. You may have still said yes to a few requests, but the ability to contain the damage and work within the given resources should remain intact for the project’s duration.

Five-star communication

Constantly update all involved parties on the progress, timelines, missed deadlines, and expectations.

Poor communication can result in surprises – unpleasant surprises, that is. Changes in the agreed-upon scope with the key stakeholders and project sponsor are not considered scope creep. On the other hand, scope creep is when you have poor communication between stakeholders, disorganized documentation of new features, and out-of-date change control systems that are doomed to make projects fail.

Your project deliverables may be reaching a five-star rating. but if your project teams’ communication is merely a one-star meh, you still need help addressing scope creep.

All new requests based on the original scope should undergo the Perform Integrated Change Control process, including updating new features, documenting project charter amendments, and ensuring you’re on the same page with modifications in the scope statement.

Bottom Line for Project Managers

Consider looking at scope creep positively. It is a type of change, and change is the only thing permanent in this world.

You will not be able to see what’s missing or lacking or even distressing your systems, and you have no opportunity to grow into the best project manager if you don’t allow for some scope change as the project runs.

Handling scope creeps is a challenging part of being a project manager. One of the good things nowadays is that technology is readily available to help you see through despair. Monitor change requests, work progress, invoices, and payments through reliable project management software. A handy project management tool paired with a powerful agency framework can help you unite your team, spare you from twice the efforts of juggling phone calls and client visits while taking care of your spreadsheets.

Sound too good to be true? Let Scaletime help you!

Scope management plans for successful projects are made easy with ScaleTime. Handle scope creep in project management by optimizing your digital agency’s systems and processes. Get a FREE Discovery Session with our Scale Strategists here!

 

Digital Agency Process: 10 Workflow Tips to Scale Your Agency

digital agency process

When you browse your Facebook and Twitter accounts, you can’t help but check out the latest viral videos – oh, and guiltily go crazy over TikTok too! Promo flyers have been replaced with double clicks; print ads kicked out by digital billboards, and social media channels are the new TV when it comes to advertising. Influencers and even owners dance to a catchy tune trying to grab their potential customers’ attention as they view their ads over and over again.

With the rise of technological advancement and innovative ways to keep businesses in check, digital marketing agencies are also growing. The number of likes and shares now evaluates popularity as online businesses and virtual markets are born daily. Before you know it, demands for digital marketing are spiraling.

So how does your digital agency keep up with the pace? Are you ready to take your digital marketing team to new heights?

We are here to provide the ultimate guide to improving your digital agency workflow and give you tips on how to scale up amidst the competition. Let’s get crackin’!

 

The Role of a Digital Marketing Agency

Who says they still need a digital marketing agency? All the CEOs need is the Digital Marketing Agency book for Dummies together with Google and they’re good to go!

Nope. Your agency is more relevant now MORE THAN EVER.

A digital agency dedicated to marketing purposes is important because of the BIG FAT chunk it brings to the table: building customer relationships online translates into future sales and purchases. They are also responsible for purchases made across digital platforms because of their strategic thinking and inventive lead generation strategies.

So, do you think businesses can still get away without the help of a digital marketing agency?

Let them try handling marketing campaigns that are now shifting to the virtual world from the previous face-to-face. Give them the opportunity to manage everything from content production to website design, to a smooth-sailing online customer experience, all at the same time! These factors contribute to the increase of sales and whether you will raise loyal customers or become viral the wrong way.

Increasing online presence, getting sales leads, turning them into sales, and expanding the businesses’ reach are only some of the responsibilities having a digital marketing agency entails.

Best Workflow for Digital Marketing Agencies

digital agency process workflow

Keeping your sanity and improving your business’ performance every time you take on a new project equates to relying on a company workflow. It is having a process you can depend on with email marketing, social media and content creation, web design, sales analytics, and even hosting virtual events.

First things first, you need to create a comprehensive onboarding system for clients, clarifying the breadth of the project, and having a documented template that you can use to implement your processes. When everything’s a-okay, next is to assign clear duties to team members, review the project timeline, and regularly ask for feedback. As simple as that, your digital marketing agency can now implement a well-developed process workflow. YAY!

Just between us, what makes YOU a successful digital agency is your ability to execute a unique workflow that focuses on achieving your marketing goals and broadening your business services.

At ScaleTime, we check that your business has the best effective system that guides you in creating a blossoming digital marketing company. We offer project management for your digital agency as a way to create a systematized approach for meeting deadlines, knowing the team members participating in the project, and measuring and optimizing your business’s success.

We start by taking a look at what is happening and we note what tools and services you use, evaluate each team member’s role, the onboarding of each client, and the current project management method you are using in your company. This is the data we will use to create a baseline.

We then create a plan which involves reviewing the present effective procedures and removing the ineffective ones while working our way up!

Sooo, what’s next? We implement a procedure that works well with your system and give a boost to what you already have! We guide you all the way from measuring KPIs to appreciating the numbers on your company’s books.

Our proven process allows you to take a step back, supervise, and peacefully sip champagne at night. Wouldn’t it be fun to oversee your company’s development while sunbathing from your dream paradise? Now that’s life!

10 Tips to Scaling Your Digital Marketing Agency

1. Have a workflow that is proven effective

We know that you dread the daily grind, but you need to do it to enjoy everyday life. So what’s our solution? An efficient workflow is guaranteed to have you living the best days with your family and friends, and even your pets!

One of the cornerstones of successful agencies is refining an existing workflow or a total overhaul and setting down a new one. You may have the best team members, the most understanding clients, or the high-paying projects, but if you do not have a systematic way to handle all the tasks in your business, then everything, including your time and money, goes bye-bye.

Don’t let precious resources escape your grasp. Learn to control your nine-to-five with this proven-effective framework for your digital agency. We have the road map to optimizing your digital marketing processes right HERE.

2. Successful onboarding of new team members

digital agency sales process

Once you have a clear system in place, it’s now time to enhance your team.

Each team member must know exactly what is expected of them, to improve employee satisfaction, motivation, and retention. If you have trouble with annoyed or confused team members you often catch on long breaks and not on their desks, you might need to integrate your system into the team. Knowing what to do when and who will do it makes the difference.

One of the many ways is to make them carry out all the specified tasks constructively. Designate marketing managers to handle the creative assets and sales, project managers with the scope and ensuring deadlines are met, and relationship managers to deal face to face with clients. This brings us to the next tip –

3. Flawless client onboarding

digital agency client onboarding

Your team may know what to do when implementing a task in the project. But what about the clients? These are your customers, your lifeline, the mechanism that pumps blood in your business. Having a step-by-step guide to delivering projects must also include having an efficient client delivery process.

Grab a coffee with them and let them know the current project status and where your team is at with the timeline. Update them with their portfolio, let them know you’re on the same page, and make them feel they are involved and being taken care of.

This is a chance to help spread the word that your company is not just a fancy website with monthly vouchers. It is an opportunity to turn mouth advertising into potential customers and client recommendations.

4. Streamline the creative process

Too many post-its hanging by your workstation, but you’re still stuck with all the digital marketing dilemmas? Or maybe your team just throws in their ideas, and results are all far off from the final product?

Simplify the way you want a plan to be executed. Straightforward marketing goals and campaigns would allow more team members to understand the creative process, attract motivation and encourage feedback. It also fosters the development of analytical thinking and problem-solving skills within your team. You certainly don’t want to get stuck with uncolored drawings! Always remember that the virtual marketing journey is as important as the output.

5. Know how to set a fair price for services

digital agency price

Unlike products, digital marketing services are challenging to put a price tag on. Charging too high leads to overpricing and fewer clients, while charging too low will cut into your profit or, worse, leaves an impression that the services you offer are not as good as everything else in the market. Yikes!

Managing the budget by knowing how much your services really cost is a good place to start. Although there is no one-way route to finding a fair price, some things to consider are the type of service you offer, whether there are any marketing specialists providing the same service, and if yes, how much they are charging for their work.

This competitor analysis helps you have confidence in your real worth, so you can communicate this to your customers. Or else, they’ll believe you are not credible enough for your asking price!

If everything still seems blurry, we have prepared this article on specific guidelines and other tips for pricing your services HERE.

6. Up-to-date digital marketing data

digital marketing agency sales process

Not everyone can sell, and not everyone can do math. However, these are two essential pillars when it comes to digital marketing!

Before, studying your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses was enough to keep you ahead of the game. Now, the market analysis includes more detailed and comprehensive statistics on their market share, pricing, geographical location, customer reviews, online channel presence, and many other factors. It’s more than just raw data because these are numbers that need to be researched and examined to become the basis of your marketing techniques and strategy.

Once you’ve done your digital marketing campaign, reviewing its success and components is also essential to help gather more insights on your product, your approach, and your target audience.

7. Focus on the target audience

digital marketing agency target audience

Stories, captions, and social media posts should not only make clients happy. As creatives, digital marketing agencies should focus on creating precisely what the target audience needs by defining the real people who are most likely to purchase from your client and earn their trust and loyalty. Without them, your clients will not exist at all! The target audience may be based on several factors like age, location, income, interests, and so on.

After knowing your audience, it’s time to get some leads!

Whether it’s blog post creation or content creation for social media platforms, the final digital product is a huge part of ensuring your audience recognizes your presence. It may be that they don’t need the services now, but if you keep them interested, your services stay at the back of their minds. They may come back to use your products in the future, and some may even make referrals and recommendations when the need arises.

8. Choose the tools that work best

Digital agencies use all the tools at their fingertips to meet the creative brief and follow creative processes. Software is used for updating web pages and content production, but how do you know what works best for your digital agency?

One tip is to check out what other business owners use in your industry. These digital tools come with specific guidelines on installation and sometimes the extra budget needed for its premium users. So, if you find out it does not work with your system, you could end up wasting a week (or even a month, UGH!) trying to figure out how to use something that’s not really effective in making your work more manageable in the first place!

(Not to fret, some tools offer a free trial and 24/7 support, so you’re not left alone in this cold and brutal virtual jungle of paid software and applications!)

But wait, here’s the fun part! Once you’ve installed the app and get the hang of it, you may now integrate it into your effective workflow. Tasks that may seem complicated can now be done with just a click or two to achieve desired results and meet deadlines more effortlessly.

While you’re at it, you can even adjust the mood lights in your office to boost your team’s creativity or even plot the traffic system on your way to meet clients with a single tap while enjoying your morning coffee.

9. Set expectations of clients and team members

You have to accept that life does not always work according to your plan. This is why part of the workflow sets clients’ and team’s expectations.

Have a kickoff meeting with both parties to emphasize project objectives. Explain the project range and give the project summary towards the end. It balances the anticipation and relieves pressure.

Part of the timeline also sets the time for you to provide feedback to ensure no loose ends after the project has been implemented.

10. Step back as you grow

digital marketing

After all the hard work, it’s time to develop turnover and endorsement plans.

First, take time to assess if the current strategy works and update team members on their accomplishments and performance. Next, tweak your current digital marketing process according to the fast-paced and changing times.

Finally, as your agency grows, the last part of the framework (and probably the most rewarding one at that) is stepping back and giving yourself more time out of the office and more time to focus on achieving a work-life balance.

Exciting, isn’t it? Now’s the time to scale up your digital marketing agency! Set up a Discovery Session with us for FREE. Take control of the growth of your business, and let us help you. Talk to our Scale Strategists and optimize your company by clicking HERE.