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Your Guide to Selling your Subscription Agency

Your Guide to Selling your Subscription Agency

This is part of our series on setting up, and selling your subscription agency business on Cognitives. See Part 1 here.

Selling is hard. But we all have to learn to love to sell.

It is undervalued. David Rodnitzky, CEO of 3Q digital, a media agency based in San Francisco describes it like this:

“You don’t get what you are worth, you get what you can negotiate” - hear the full interview here.

Don’t think that your agency will jump into the hands of your clients, at least, not at the start. Sales skills are the most underappreciated skills in the creative industries and we all owe it to our work to be the best we can be at selling it.

The best sales strategy around subscriptions are advocated by two of the titans of sales John Barrows and Aaron Ross - both veterans of the Salesforce behemoth.

Barrows advocates the power of priority based selling. Put simply, if your subscription or plan doesn’t directly address the number 1 or 2 priority for any lead, you are dead in the water.

Hear John Barrows talk tactics on the Saastr podcast.

This doesn’t mean “is revenue your top priority? Yes, great, let me talk about making you more revenue.”

It means your agency service or suite of solutions need to directly address the key blocker or breakdown between them and what they want. To do this properly you need to address these upfront and explore them properly prior to the pitch. Directly addressing their top priorities with evidence on how it will actually deliver on those, rather than rock in with a bunch of cool stuff and a dream.

Other great sales tips are:

Have lock in contracts as a standard, and then flex on these rather than price. 

Everyone wants a discount, but if you back your product, do not discount. But a good relationship is one where everyone gets something out of it. This means you need to be able to give something rather than price, that has the equivalent value of price. But you can’t do this on the spot, it needs to be framed before negotiations so the other party knows it is a chip on the table. An example of this would be “look this is a high quality tailored content marketing pack, and will get you where you need to go as a business. We stand behind our products so we don’t discount. But i am willing to take down the initial 12 month lock in to a 6 month trial period to demonstrate its real value”

Always send a summary email, and ask them to confirm it is on track. Most relationships break down because of missed expectations. If expected behaviour diverges from reality it causes stress in any context. There are lots of ways to avoid this, but a key tactic is at the end of every sales call/message send a summary email (not the deliverables). Basically it is a summary of what you think they want, their priorities, where they are going, what you deliver, whatever. But ask them to respond if anything is off, or if I have missed anything. This sets up a professional standard of expected behaviour that you need from the client through the sales process. Sweeten it by saying I will always get back to you within three hours if you have any questions in the process.

Below is an email you can tailor to your needs as an agency to follow this tactic.


Thanks so much for the call {client name}. It was exciting talking about your growth plans. I really feel like the service packs and subscription we discussed will really delivery on your goals of:

Expanding into {vertical/market} by increasing awareness of xx

Driving down lead cost by decreasing your reliance on paid advertising and transitioning to an inbound marketing model

Improving SEO performance.

The {plan Name - Enterprise etc} will deliver this by: 1, 2, 3 points. However you feel that it needs to include:

Increase content by x, content type, cadence of content

Replace SEM with creation of 5 landing pages

2 monthly client strategy/performance meetings not just 1.

As I mentioned please respond with an ok on the above of if you think I have missed anything.

Ill send over {promised materials} by {day next week} and then link back for a call to approve so we can get moving.


{Your Name}

P.s Feel free to check out our recent agency ebook {see brandable ebooks on our website}.

Closing thought

Ultimately your sales approach needs to feel authentic to you and your agency, but everyone likes it when you follow a more predictable model for sales. your prospects, clients and employees will thank you for putting the structure, and documentation, around your approach to sales and account service.

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