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Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Mar 25, 2020


In this episode, we have our guest, Dominic Cummins who has been coaching agencies on how to close more business for years. We’re breaking down his process for not only getting more leads, but more importantly, closing more business. The key is changing mindsets around the sales pitch process. With a natural gift in sales and a deep desire to see companies succeed and flourish, Dominic dives into his coaching strategies for agencies of all sizes- from those making less than $1M per year, to those making $50M+ annually. What is the best use of company funds to draw in new clients? Are RFP’s worth it for my business? What if I’m an introverted salesperson with a fearful apprehension of pitching and getting rejected? Today we dive into these questions and more. 


Resources Mentioned: 


Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode:

  1. It’s not about the number of leads, it’s about the number of leads closed.
  2. It’s not about selling, it's about helping. This one mindset shift will change your sales approach especially in this current uncertain economy.
  3. Before throwing big time and money at a potential new client with travel expenses and pitches, think about the lifetime value of that client. 


About our Guest:

Dominic Cummins: After over 15 years in corporate America managing sales and marketing teams around the world, he helped a small software company achieve a $500M dollar exit and took the opportunity to start his own coaching practice for agencies. Dominic specializes in bridging the gap between sales and marketing for companies between 50 and 100 million in revenue. Now he helps those within the marketing community through his Apex Path, a mastermind for agency owners to help them find and fulfill their purpose through a profitable agency. 


About The Guys: 

Bob Hutchins: Founder of BuzzPlant, a digital agency that he ran from from 2000 -2017. He is also the author of 3 books. More on Bob: 

Brad Ayres: Founder of Anthem Republic, an award-winning ad agency. Brad’s knowledge has led some of the biggest brands in the world. Originally from Detroit, Brad is an OG in the ad agency world and has the wisdom and scars to prove it. Currently that knowledge is being applied to his boutique agency. More on Brad:

Ken Ott: Co-Founder and Chief Growth Rebel of Metacake, an Ecommerce Growth Team for some of the world’s most influential brands with a mission to Grow Brands That Matter. Ken is also an author, speaker, and was nominated for an Emmy for his acting on the Metacake Youtube Channel (not really). More on Ken: 


Show Notes:

[3:00] Bob asks Dominic about his career path. 

[3:05] Dominic: “I got my brokerage license at 19 and really developed a passion for sales.” He moved up the ladder quickly and by 24 was managing a bank branch but quickly realized that leadership and sales were not the same thing. 

  • Has sold all over the world and honed his skills. “Humans all over the world like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold to. Treat them like human beings.” 

[4:45] Bob asks: What do you think is the thing that agency owners get wrong that you help them adjust when you consult with them?”

  • Dominic responds that there is a prevalent understanding that more leads means more sales.
  • Hubspot/Salesforce fact: The average industry closing percentage, converting qualified opportunities into sales is 11%. Across all industries 24% or 25% is average- this paints a picture that the actual conversion isn’t being taken advantage of enough.
  • Leads are expensive, algorithms make it even more challenging. So focusing on purely getting more leads is similar to filling up a leaky bucket over and over again. 

[7:35] Ken asks: “Why do you think people focus on leads?”

[8:02] Dominic: “Well it has to do with comfort level… what I see with agencies is they just default to their level of comfort… I’ll get more people into the top of my funnel, and naturally as they fall through I’ll get more leads.”

  • Cost probably adds to this tendency, but also comfort level plays into it a lot.

[8:50] Bob: “It’s also easier, right? It’s easier to focus on getting that lead versus doing the hard work of the sales process.”

[8:57] Brad adds that a lot of lead funnels are automatic once set up. This allows owners to go and do something else while something else is running in the background to generate more leads. 

  • Asks: “What’s the percentage of closing deals based on the way they came into the agency?”

[9:58] Dominic responds to Brad’s comment on automation. For smaller companies at $1.5-$2 million in revenue, the lead flow is on some sort of autopilot. But for agencies with less than a million, there is virtually no automation in their funnels. 

[10:58] Dominic continues: “If you look at the typical conversion of cold traffic to a sale, it’s somewhere between 3 and 5% at most. That varies a little bit by industry, but completely cold traffic is somewhere between 3 and 5%.”

  • Telemarketing averages 11 to 15%. Significantly harder to do, reward is greater. 
  • Next level up is face to face- 30-40%, or 70-80% if it’s a referral. 
    • These are more expensive to invest in, but the reward is much much larger.

[13:37] Bob asks for an example of applying what he’s talking about with a larger, $20-$50M agency. 

[14:00] Dominic: “The principles are still the same, but at that point, lead generation has to be a component. All three of those things that I mentioned. Keeping in mind that most companies of that size are looking to sell eventually, keeping that automation of leads in line and going strong is really valuable.”

  • “You’ve gotta have it all.”
  • For smaller agencies we use the expression a lot “You’ve got to stay close to the transaction.” 

[16:11] Ken mentions that there is an excitement around generating leads, it’s definitely prevalent. For those who have wound up in agency ownership without being super intentional about it, going with what you know or what is familiar to you is easy to do. 

[18:30] Brad asks: How much percentage of your total revenue should go into sales efforts? 

[18:52] Dominic: “For a company to be considered a healthy venture capital acquisition, our cost of acquisition had to be between 18 and 22%... it did not necessarily benefit you to be lower than that…. I just say that 20% of acquisition costs is a good number.”

  • Factor in other things: sales rep salaries, tech staff to support the sales team, lead costs

[20:48] Brad responds that at a certain point you have to ask “how much more are we going to throw into acquiring a new customer?” It really depends on understanding the customer's value in a year or two- you have to weigh that. 

[21:57] Dominic adds: “If it costs you $20K to acquire a customer but you only cash collect $5K, $20K to acquire the next few and only cash collect $10K, you’ve spent $40K to only cash collect $15K- you’re broke.”

[24:23] Ken adds: “If you don’t know your profit margin on the services you provide, that makes it even harder.”

[25:15] Brad: Talk about how you can judge what is worth your time versus when you might need to walk away from an RFP. 

[26:12] Dominic responds: “If you’re less than a million dolars, I don’t think you should play in the RFP world because there’s too much rent. As you get larger, that’s fine, you can take that risk.”

  • RFP’s will take up time and energy that most likely won't’ work for smaller companies. 
  • RFP’s have procurement specialists, etc. if this is going to be the way you build relationships. 
  • Working with ESPN came through an RFP that they introduced based on relationship building- it was a year worth of relationship building. 

[30:00] Ken adds that his perspective is a bit different. “It’s basically gambling with a lot of money and a lot of time, time being even more expensive than they money side of it.”

[30:25] Brad adds that he only participates in RFP’s if a client has already told him they were in the running- there has to be a sense of possibility in it in order for it to be worth it. 

[31:37] Ken adds that RFP’s are notoriously a pain, as they set up the relationship dynamic very poorly. One party will invest a lot of time and effort to “the royalty” in hopes of getting “knighted”... this creates an imbalance in the relationship. 

[32:54] Bob: “If I’m a business owner and I want to get a bunch of work done, I need to shop around to get the best price.” 

[33:23] Ken: “There is a bar that the RFP process often goes over in pitching, which is beyond ‘here’s what i think it will cost’ to the point where you’re spending $50K to send 5 peopel out there and throw a pitch at them along with the RFP.”

[34:00] Dominic adds: Often RFP’s are used a lot in the government, when vetting of security clearances is necessary, etc. 

[35:48] Brad asks: “What advice would you give someone who doesn’t have a ton of money to send people out and fly around… where woudl you put the energy?”

[37:00] Dominic responds: “Work your network… stay close to people and talk to them.”

  • Ask those close to you for their opinions, get their buy-in and keep them in the loop about what you’re up to, what you’re looking at. 
  • Recalls a Robert Collier letter- asking for a favor. “That principle of just going to the people that you know and asking a simple question, would you do me a favor.” 
  • People love to give you their opinion, people love to do favors. Work your network and focus on that.

[42:36] Brad: “I seem to avoid that human contact because I’m kind of afraid of rejection.”

  • Learn from it, refine.

[43:15] Dominic adds that when you do meet people in person, think of it the same way you do with CTA’s on a landing page. That landing page isn’t meant to make the sale, it’s meant to encourage the visitor to opt-in. So when you meet someone in person, think of it as trying to get them to “opt-in” instead of making a hard sale.

  • Will you opt-in to having lunch?
  • Will you opt-in on giving me your opinion?

[44:50] Ken adds that: “If you switch the idea or the mindset- when I meet someone I’m not trying to sell them, talk about my resume, make them think I’m awesome. I’m just trying to gather information- then you don’t have to fear the rejection so badly.” 

  • “I’m curious to know if there are any tactics specifically that you can do to help increase your tolerance for rejection as a human being.”

[46:39] Dominic: “It feels less like rejection when all you’ve done is offered to help. If they choose not to take your help, that’s not rejecting you. They’ve rejected the help… which doesn’t make sense to most people.”

  • You’re just providing Value in Advance- you’re earning more time with them by giving them value and have those conversations with them. 
  • “It feels less like a transaction and more like a natural flow.” 
  • “The best salespeole that I know are introverted. I am an introvert. But I know that I can provide help for agency owners. I know I can make them better, and that passion drives me, and so I offer that help in as many ways as I can.”

[48:40] Brad adds that changing the mindset is super helpful. Asks “Who is the right team when you’re pitching?”

[50:10] Dominic: “Avoid founder selling syndrome, where the founder is really the only one who can make the sales- and that’s because your sales process isn’t good enough, you’re not articulating it well enough to teach other people to do it.”

[50:45] Dominic mentions Make RC who runs large podcasts and has an agency that caters specifically to certain kinds of gyms. 

  • His model is that everyone on his team is a salesperson. He does sales training for the entire company every morning- 15 minutes every morning and they’re all getting training. “Nothing but good for your company.”

[52:19] Bob asks one final question: What would you say is the one thing that any business of any size could do that could generate more referral business for them? 

[52:54] Dominic: “Treat them well. We are very good at following up on a sales basis.”

  • “Look for any opportunity to just have a conversation that doesn’t have anything to do with your fulfillment… find reasons to talk to them and just general relationship reasons because you want to become invaluable… Stay on top of mind from a sales perspective.”
  • Treat your customer base like you would your telemarketing base. Stay in touch. Call them all the time.”

[55:13] Dominic plugs his website: or follow him on LinkedIn!