Agency Advantage 17: Nate McGuire on Developing the Skills to Move Upmarket

Agency Advantage 17: Nate McGuire on Developing the Skills to Move Upmarket

Nate McGuire is the co-founder of Code My Views, an on-demand development team that helps creative agencies convert designs into code. Just 6 months after launching, Code My Views has already built a team of 25 developers and isn’t slowing down.

This isn’t his first time in this space. He and his partner Connor Hood had a similar service called The Site Slinger, which they sold a few years ago. Instead of following the playbook from their first attempt, Nate and Connor knew from their experience that they wanted to start moving upmarket. With the rapid growth they’ve experienced, that strategy is clearly paying off.

Learn how to move your agency upmarket from @natemcguire (podcast) Click To Tweet

In today’s chat, Nate covers the reasons why so many agencies are stuck at the $500-$5000 project level, how he was able to break out of that and to move upmarket, and the steps you need to take to do the same.

Key Takeaways

Where agencies fail their clients [14:00 – 23:15]

There are a lot of bad agencies out there, and as you talk with your clients about their past experiences it becomes clear just how bad they can get. If you’re listening to this show, then you (hopefully) aren’t one of those agency horror stories, but there are areas in every business that could be improved.

The two most common failure points of agencies are communication and reliability.

The two most common failure points of agencies are communication and reliability Click To Tweet

Your clients have deadlines, and many teams simply aren’t responsive enough to actually deliver on them. The worst agencies fall silent when things go off the rails, but so many others just enter reactive mode in these situations; waiting until their client contacts them to say there is a problem. If you’re going to miss a deadline, don’t wait until that deadline comes up to let the client know. When things first seem to be going off the rails, be proactive and inform your clients.

You also need to have processes in place to ensure that you can reliably deliver good results for your clients. So many agencies that are struggling for work will immediately jump into a project before figuring out all the details because they want to get paid. The stress from a lack of work is real, but the faster you jump into a project before understanding it, the more likely it will backfire for both you and the client.

Have processes in place to ensure that you can reliably deliver good results for your clients Click To Tweet

Think long term. Don’t start the project until it is fully defined, then once it is fully defined understand exactly what steps you need to take to be successful and make your client aware of these steps so they trust you and your process.

How to move upmarket [23:15 – 29:45]

Most agency owners think that just by being in business and delivering good results they will naturally climb the food chain and start landing bigger clients with better projects and bigger budgets. This works…to an extent. However, simply delivering good results is not enough for success when moving upmarket. Good results are just the entry fee to the game.

Delivering good results are just the entry fee to moving upmarket. You must level up your professionalism Click To Tweet

If you want to reliably land and service bigger clients, you need to take your level of professionalism up to the next level (and maybe a few levels above that). For Nate, he got a lot of this experience as a consultant for Ernst & Young, but the rest he learned by diving in, talking to a ton of people, and learning what these larger companies truly need.

You aren’t going to land a Fortune 500 client via Skype or by meeting them in a coffee shop. You need to be willing to get on a plane and go visit them. Even if your goals aren’t Fortune 500s, to be able to command higher rates and service bigger clients you need to improve your reliability.

Change in mindset to service upmarket clients [39:00 – 50:15]

A client with a business that is worth millions of dollars has different needs than the mom & pop shop down the road.

You need to understand the real motivations for their projects, as well as the perceived risks, then figure out how to adequately address those motivations and avoid those risks. The amount of value your work can provide a big client is huge, but for a project to be worth it to them, they have to make sure the risks don’t outweigh the rewards.

Price matters to companies of every size, but at a certain size, there are considerations that are much more important. It is infinitely more valuable to a client to never screw up a project than it is to always come in at the lowest price. Again, be reliable.

The easiest way to start moving upmarket is to practice developing these habits with your next client, regardless of their size. Be as detailed as possible upfront with specs and communication so that it is obvious what you are going to deliver. Don’t be in a rush to sign the statement of work (SOW). Instead, focus on making sure the SOW is right. Then, you need to deliver.

As you become more comfortable with this and improve your processes, then you can confidently start going after those big fish, instead of sitting back and hoping they are going to come to you.

Want to learn more?

The vast majority of the delays that happen in a project can be attributed to a lack of preparation and communication before the project starts. Nate and Connor realized this and developed a simple workflow to help you eliminate 80% of the back-and-forth that seems standard in so many projects.

Resources Mentioned

Nate McGuire

Connor Hood

Thanks for listening!

Are you stuck in the $500-5000 project range? Share in the comments what’s holding you back from moving upmarket and let me help you get back on track

Agency Advantage 16: Jay Baer on Why Customer Service is the New Marketing

Jay Baer (Twitter) is a New York Times best-selling author, the most retweeted person in the world by digital marketers, founder of Convince and Convert, and an expert in customer service. Jay has built and sold several digital agencies in his career and today operates Convince and Convert, a strategic consultancy that helps companies create…