If clients view your teams more as ‘order takers’ than trusted advisors, then a more commercial mindset and sales process is mission critical. 

Your value exchange with clients should be very simple – you do great work and they pay you well. But for an industry designed to sell things, it’s a bitter irony that selling is what we’re worst at. Make no mistake, failing to capture value is just as problematic as bad work.

Agencies are conditioned to give ideas away and slash fees in new-business, which leaves account leads with little choice but to continue the servility. No wonder clients blithely view overservicing as the definition of ‘partnership’ and proactive account growth is so slow. 

This is why margins are slim, your superstars are flight-risk bottlenecks and the creaking agency business model is about to explode. Poor selling is increasingly an existential risk.

Thankfully, because most agencies follow the same generic sales habits, you can create your own playbook, dramatically stand out and regain your ‘trusted advisor’ status. 

The antidote to commoditised sales

The cure for self-commoditising selling is a widely misunderstood discipline – Value-Based Selling (VBS). Rather than leading with your services, VBS is simply a sales process that’s designed around client needs and benefits – it’s what they get, not what you do. 

Unfortunately, many agency leaders confuse VBS with value-based pricing or ‘payment by results’. They then reject VBS, assuming that clients are reluctant to put ‘skin in the game’. Whether that’s true or not, because VBS is discrete from performance-related pay, it’s far easier to adopt. 

Most importantly, because clients aren’t used to agencies showing up like this, VBS is an immediate differentiator. Instead of saying you’re different, you’re being it. 

How to adopt Value-Based Selling

Combining workshops and ongoing support, Co:definery’s VBS sprint reinvents how you sell by designing and implementing your own bespoke process. This isn’t just theory – it’s the delivery of real-world behaviour change.

1. Establish the foundations

We start by unpacking your current sales behaviours in the context of your commercial performance and wider industry norms. 

Next we define the more client-centric mindset that VBS demands. This includes rebalancing the client / agency power dynamic, changing the language of selling, and retiring insular clichéd beliefs, like selling being ‘all about the work’.

These foundational reframes and ‘aha’ moments demonstrate how VBS can become a competitive advantage.

2. Create your process

You’re now ready to develop your own unique VBS process. This maximises your potential for differentiation and effective selling by weaving your specific value proposition into our four-step VBS framework: 

  • Be the expert – how you show up, lead the conversation and leverage your strengths
  • Reinvent qualification – replacing self-commoditising questions with a more curious and consultative approach
  • Define value – discerning the right solution – and price – ahead of going all-in with your pitch or proposal
  • Close as partners – navigating risks, choice architecture, pricing as a differentiator and reframing your ‘pitch’. 

And because we co-create agency-specific behaviours, mindsets and phrasing, there’s no need for internal ‘sell-in’ because shared ownership is baked in from the start.

3. Embed the practice

This is where the rubber hits the road. As Yogi Berra wisely noted: “in theory there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is”. To enable lasting commercial improvement, our VBS sprint includes full support for implementation. 

The workshops conclude with detailed action-setting. No-one leaves without certainty on next steps, owners and deadlines. 

Next, your tailored support plan begins – from refining your sales tools and assets, to coaching for teams and individuals to practise their skills, share successes and address blockers as they arise.  

Everything you need to successfully embed your VBS process – for your wider agency as well as the workshop participants – is included. 

Genuine partnerships through savvy selling

Effective selling is mission critical – especially now, with AI and automation disrupting the traditional free-ideas-first-revenue-later model. Already slender profit margins are increasingly at risk. 

By empowering your teams to adopt a more commercial and ownable approach to organic growth and new-business, you’ll underline your differentiation rather than undermine it. This shortens sales cycles, improves conversion and builds stronger, more profitable client partnerships. 

Get in touch to find out more.


Image: Xiaolong Wong