How to sell a digital agency

Or how NOT sell a digital agency 😂

In this post and video I share how we were trapped in our own unsellable business, so we made it into something we people would want to buy. (Spoiler alert: we fell in love with it and decided to keep it!)

Why we wanted to sell up

We were SO ready to sell! We were absolutely DONE!

Why?

  • We were tired of the “rat race”.
  • Stressed with projects and clients.
  • Exhausted with the long hours.
  • Sick of playing whack-a-mole with the bills!

We wanted to “call it quits” and selling seemed to us a “win win”.

What was stopping us?

We were ready to sell, and started putting feelers out. It didn’t take long for us to realise, we had an agency that we could not sell.

The most common objections we had were:

No identity in business

We had no identity. We didn’t have any sort of real compelling, unique selling proposition. We were not rocking any particular industry, and had no real sales hooks other terming ourselves as a “full service agency”.

We had built a business, that absolutely relied on us as the directors to be the staff, which meant we didn’t really have something that could be sold. We were the product and it’s tough to sell a job you don’t want to do!

We simply owned our own jobs. There wasn’t a business there that was of value and worth purchasing.

No target client

We had no real target client, real mission and were not focused on any particular industry.

We were simply working with anyone and everyone. This was not something that we could put a price tag on. We had clients and yes, there was money turning over. We had maybe a few client relationships that we could sell. But there wasn’t really a business.

No defined product or problem and solution

We were building websites, apps for anyone and everyone. We had no audience for whom we had a clearly defined problem, product and repeatable solution.

No processes or procedures

Without processes and procedures, there was nothing that could be handed over to a new team. We had no structure in place that would allow me, as a director and the other guys to eject and allow the business to continue to run.

No chance of selling our digital agency

So as a business, that somebody else could walk into and take on and grow, we had nothing.

We didn’t have something that was in a specific sector. We didn’t have something that had a particular problem that it solved. We had no real product or identity.

Transforming our agency

Recognising our problems was the first step. We’d accidentally discovered both the reason we could not sell our business, and why our business was not the success that we wanted it to be. Thus began our “agency reset”.

I deep dive into the full agency reset in this episode of the Trailblazer FM Podcast.

The key pillars of Agency Transformation are:

  • Identity
  • Value
  • Platform
  • Output
  • Future

These stages helped us to understand that information, that allowed us to create a product, repeatable processes and procedures.

A clear Identity and client avatar

We established an identity as an agency that served event organizers who attract high value sponsorship, want to increase exhibitors at their events and get more footfall at their events.

With our expertise in branding, design and development, we knew we could serve this niche well.

A product that solves their problems

Having established our avatar, we understood what their problems were and what product we had that could solve their problems.

We had a website platform that would allow them to sell their event online and to convert those potential visitors, sponsors and exhibitors.

A clear solution to a well defined problem or need.

Defined system and processes with repeatable results

To this day we are are able to create repeatable results, all of which have been carefully documented. By working with the same sorts of clients over the years, our products and services have evolved to cover the needs we’ve identified.

As business owners we no longer need to be involved in the day to day sales, marketing or operations of the business as our team can work independently of us. They can deal with enquiries, make the sale and onboard the new client.

A business we no longer wanted to sell

Finally! We’d done it! We’d build a business that someone could buy… except one problem…

We don’t want to sell! Our business is FAR healthier, we are all happier and we are growing. By preparing ourselves to be “sellable”, we became scalable!

We wouldn’t rule out a take over in the future, but right now we are having FAR too much fun!

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