This is Part 1 of a 17 chapter eBook, “Agency New Business: Put On That Damn Sales Hat,” which you can download at no cost here.

The eBook covers everything from pre-prospecting preparation to working opportunities to close. 

The majority of the eBook focuses on elements that agencies either often overlook, are too busy to consider, or are simply too lazy to pursue.

The agency landscape is changing rapidly and daily, not only for agencies, but for clients: doing things the same way won’t cut it.

We released “Put On That Damn Sales Hat” as an overall agency new business primer for marketing services firms, so they can put on their sales hat with purpose and confidence.


prospecting list

Chapter 1: Make Your Prospecting List Choices Count

Putting on your sales hat at the very beginning of the prospecting process is vital to long-term success.

Shortcuts at the start of the process can kill you at the end of the game.

It’s all about the “quality in, quality out” principle: the value of the input usually influences the value of the output, or “garbage in, garbage out.”

In our experience, where Agencies typically fall down at the outset is in the development of prospecting lists*.


Simply buying lists from suppliers based on expected dimensions (like geography and sector) while a good place to start, isn’t good enough.

Put some quality thought into your list.

Ask yourself the following: How does the prospect fit with the quality and character of your agency?

Do they seem to be more entrepreneurial in spirit or more corporate in their persona?

Beyond the basic “category experience” dimension, what other value can your agency bring to the table?

And probably the element that should be given the greatest consideration is: Will I get excited about selling this prospect?

If the answer is no, you may not want to put them on your list.


 Titles can be tricky.

The other critical element is title selection.

With Marketers moving around at the speed of light these days, it’s important you select the right decision maker title and  make certain that the prospect is indeed carrying that title.

Check LinkedIn at a minimum and if you have the manpower, call into the prospect company-it’s what we do at RSW/US as a final step, but know that’s not always possible at the agency level.

Take whatever extra steps you can to confirm data prior to spending the time and effort working it.


prospecting list

Lists are never as accurate as you think they are.

Simply buying lists from a list provider who isn’t well-versed in the Marketing space is dangerous.

We’ve had clients come to us with pre-purchased lists only to find that roughly 50% of the list was current.

Providers like The List do a better job, but it’s still tough to keep cleaning cycles up to pace with the rate of market change.

So do your homework, don’t accept lists as quality right out of the gate, and work to clean them prior to spending time and money against them.

So while lists may get overlooked as a  requirement for you to put on that damn sales hat, they definitely are.

It’s not unlike a direct mail campaign you might pull together for a client.

I’ve heard direct marketers tell me that list and message are equally as important when creating a successful campaign.

I would say that the same holds true in agency new business prospecting as well.

Great lists drive solid success in programs we run at RSW/US.


*Actually starts when Agencies hire people that aren’t adequately equipped to manage an Agency new business selling process. 

Hiring the guy who used to sell medical devices because you want to build up a health care portfolio isn’t going to get you where you want to be. 

Selling an Agency is unlike selling any other service (and of course any product). 

While the medical device sales guy might “get” his audience to some degree, selling the ethereal of an Agency is so far beyond the scope of any other sale.

Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.