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How to Make More Money by Leveraging Agency Partnerships

Bad leads waste our time as agency owners and sales people.

But just because a lead isn't the right fit for your agency doesn't mean they aren't a good fit for all agencies. There can be a variety of reasons that a lead isn't the right fit. They want a service you don't offer, their budget is too small, the project is too big etc...

There were a few questions we constantly were asking ourselves, maybe some of these are familiar to you as well?

What do we do with the bad leads to still make them worth our time and profitable for our agency?

Why do agencies spend so much time working leads that aren't a great fit for their business?

Why do bad leads get treated poorly by agencies?

Who do we waste time and add stress by scrambling to try to find another agency or freelancer to help with a portion of a project or entire project at the last minute?

The Solution of Agency Partnerships

During this episode of Inbound Sales Journey we tackled those questions and provide the answers. But here's a quick recap for you. 

The answer to all of those questions is the same. It is because we, as agencies, don't have the right relationships and frameworks in place to truly help customers who aren't the right fit for us.

So how do you put the right relationships and frameworks into place? It all comes down to creating a process. Start here by following these 4 steps below.

1. What are the common requests that you get, but aren't a good fit to service? [Build a simple spreadsheet]
2. Who do you know who can service those requests in the right price range, time range, etc? Prioritize the gaps.
3. Do you have a relationship set up with those other service providers where you could refer business and potentially receive a commission?
4. Briefly template out the right way to refer business. Don't over complicate this.

5. Make sure your sales people have the spreadsheet. Work to build and update it. Work on building the right relationships -- it's not hard to meet good people (either at in-person events or just people who you connect with online), but you have to keep your eyes open and be thinking ahead.

To help you out with #4, here is a quick email template you are welcome to use as a guide of what to send to prospects.

Dear Ms. Prospect,

Based on your needs we discussed briefly this morning, I think that [other agency] would be the best partner I can recommend for your project.

As I mentioned, I'd be happy to connect you directly with [other agency contact] at [other agency]. I'll let you take a look at their website first, then please let me know if you'd like me to introduce you via email.

What's an Appropriate Referral Commission?

If you are referring work to other agencies you have two options. Ask for a commission, or don't ask for a commission. That depends on a million things.

There are pros and cons to both. At our agency most of our service referrals have no commissions either way. In most of those cases, however, either side would be happy to pay a small commission fee, but feeding business back and forth tends to even things out in the end. Money can sometimes complicate relationships.

But that doesn't mean that it is bad to have a referral commission set up. 

From what we have seen in the past an appropriate commission range will change depending on the type of project or retainer the prospect agrees to with the agency you have recommended. If it's an upfront, one-time project 5-10% is a reasonable commission.

If it's a long-term retainer, either a smaller continual commission or a larger up-front commission might make sense. If you refer a 12-month retainer, a 2-5% kickback monthly commission makes sense. The other option could also be a 10-20% commission on the first month or first payment.

It is important to try and establish what the percentage is before you are actually presenting them with a prospect. This will take some of the awkwardness out of discussing terms. That way when a referral opportunity presents itself it is much easier to pass them along and have clearly set expectations around who gets what. 

If you have any additional insights or questions feel free to share them in the comments below!

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Topics: Sales, Marketing, Best Practices

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