What the High-Performing Do Differently: the Secret Sauce
Everyone promises a silver-bullet solution to your agency ailments. You know what I mean…:
“Double your profits in 60 days or your money back… “
“Copy me and my template and earn a six-figure income within a month…”
“I made money from an agency in a different time in a different place selling a different offering so follow me”
Apologies for my cynicism but we have seen it all before. Self-proclaimed gurus feeding on the vulnerability and gullibility of the needy. It is plain wrong.
Over that five years we have been gathering benchmark data from digital agencies across a number of countries. It all follows a standard bell curve distribution. Loads in the middle, the rump, doing OK. Doing average. Most are just a little bit unremarkable and, to be honest, struggling.
To the far left are the laggards. Dying or about to die.
The far-right agencies are what I call the high-performers. Not the unicorns, the totally extraordinary top ½%, but the ones just before them.
The high-performers are easy to identify: above-average sales, revenue, average fee rates, utilisation, and profitability. Normally, all are above-average.
The performance in the rump agencies just isn’t as good as the high-performers. At every metric. You don’t need to be a genius to figure that one out.
While it is easy to identify the high-performers, it is harder to identify the story behind the above-average results.
And the secret-sauce we’ve discovered is how to help the ordinary-average work towards becoming above-average.
The above-average achieve an escape velocity. They break through the gravitational pull of mediocrity.
The majority will always be in the rump. We can’t all be above-average (even if most male motorists still claim to be above-average!). However, we can help people move to the right of the curve and increase the general level of all agency performance at the same time.
The secret sauce is not so very secret. We all know the ‘what’ of high-performance (more and better sales, revenue, average fee rates, utilisation and profitability). The mystery is the ‘how’. How do they get to escape velocity? Much of this is about process and systems (knowing how to design and deliver on an ambitious business plan, working on the business, and the usual mantra of great team, culture, clients etc and not least of all being great at doing all the boring stuff).
The high-performers are obsessed with
strategy (where are we going),
marketing (how are we going to sell this stuff), and
teams (why can’t we get along better?).
No rocket science there but few can do the whole gamut.
Two further obsessions of the high-performers:
the ability to bring in great people (recognising you can’t do it all yourself and that you need a great team in the business and a great team outside the business supporting the team (advisors, bankers, lawyers, accountants)
a focus on the money: the ability to measure and possibly raise money to support the growth
And finally, they are awesome at the execution. The execution of delivering the service and the execution of running and growing the business. Most are good at delivering the service. Few are great at delivering the service and the business of running and growing the business. Working IN and ON the business.
The high growth route is not for the feint-hearted. It requires masses of energy, risk-taking, nerve and support. No-one said it was easy. However, there are common traits in the high-performers, and we can all learn from these.