Agency New Business: Increasing Wallet Share with Clients 


Agency New Business



Simon Locke, CEO of CommunicationsMatch™

As a former head of communications for blue-chip companies, founder of agencies, and CEO of CommunicationsMatch™, I’ve been involved in the new business process for more than two decades.    

Organic growth with existing clients offers an important new business opportunity – but conversations that involve asking for more business need to be nuanced and reflect the client’s needs and your performance.  

Here are four things to keep in mind if you want to grow wallet share with existing clients:

Clients are driven by ROI and financial capacity

When a client gives you more work it reflects both their perception of the value you provide and their business/financial capacity to do more.  

If the client isn’t happy or seeing the results they expected, asking for more business won’t get you very far. And likewise, if you have been delivering knock-out results, but the pitch is not matched by a client’s financial capacity to increase budgets, it is easy to hit a brick wall. 

If budgets are tight, can money be found? Potentially… if the business case is compelling. 

Here’s how:         

Don’t oversell

The behavioral tendency to oversell needs to be kept in check. It’s tempting to promise the world in an effort to win business, but what needs to be understood is that promises made that a client believes are unlikely to be met, are a major red flag. 

And, while under-promising and over-delivering sounds like a good strategy, clients pay agencies to do what they themselves don’t have the capacity to do. 

This means delivering stretch goals and results. Finding the right balance is a tightrope. 

Focus on areas where you are an expert

Clients need experts. Trusted experts deliver a realistic assessment of what can be delivered and then deliver it. When PR agencies and consultants claim SEO, digital marketing, and social media marketing or other capabilities – which require specific expertise and highly-developed skillsets – they’d better be able to deliver. 

Having a self-critical evaluation of your skillsets – particularly important for individual consultants and smaller firms – and choosing to focus on what you are really good at provides a solid foundation for growth.  

As I have written before, “Pitch for what you are qualified, or qualify yourself for what you pitch.” If you are going to pitch areas of expertise, make sure you can back them up or have a path to delivering against what you promise. Otherwise, you may add new business short term, but risk the client relationship long term.

See the world through your client’s eyes 

If you are a hammer, all you see are nails. If you are a PR person, it’s easy to see every problem in terms of generating media coverage. As a client, the goal is to generate results that drive business.  

If you look at clients through the lens of your agency (or simply in terms of growing revenue), perspective is easily skewed to the point where you or your team lose sight of the client’s goals and challenges.         

The key is to really get to the heart of what matters to them and build from there.  

This may all sound obvious, but as humans our behavior is rarely perfectly aligned with what we know we should be doing. 

Seeing ourselves in the way clients see us and giving them permission to share what they really think are the keys to open and honest client-agency conversations and the foundation for growing business. 

Simon Erskine LockeAbout the Author: Simon Erskine Locke is founder & CEO of communications agency and professional search and services platform, CommunicationsMatch™, and a regular contributor to CommunicationsMatch’s technology helps clients search, shortlist and hire agencies and professionals by industry and communications expertise, location, size, diversity and designations. CommunicationsMatch powers PRSA’s Find a Firm search tools, and developed the industry’s first integrated agency search and RFP tools, Agency Select™, with RFP Associates.