The hardest area for founders to extract themselves from is sales.

Too often, the agency relies on their force of personality, their energy — and their confidence — to generate new business.

Those things are a gift but, to become a healthy, well-established business, you want to design the agency to become a sales machine itself rather than relying on any individuals.

Instilling self-confidence is the first step.

Where a founder has the creds to be seen as an equal to client stakeholders, and their trusted advisor, team members often default to a more subservient position.

That allows inequality to develop in client-agency relationships from the very beginning, which will poison the relationship sooner or later.

So how to build that confidence? Here are some of the tips from the Agency Leaders Playbook:

  • Develop a clear sales process, with useful tools and resources at each step. Each sale is not as unique as everyone tends to believe. There can be a process.
  • Run regular training in your own agency 'university' so everyone knows the process and has the skills. Train people in the core agency skills of presentation and communication above all else, and top up that training regularly.
  • Have regular 'show and tells' and internal updates from projects, so everyone in the agency knows the great work you're all capable of, and can bring up good examples to clients
  • Create teams to work on pitches from a blend of the delivery team who'll work on the project, and sales specialists (in time you'll find everyone loves this, because they can shape the project and be part of it from the beginning to the end)
  • Start stepping up by you considering yourself more the coach of teams working on sales, rather than leading the sales. You can be in this mode for a long time before others are ready to coach, but that's okay — you're still one step up from being down in the details.
  • You stepping up is key to building confidence, because otherwise there's no room for others to step up behind you
  • Notice what everyone is good at. Show that you recognise it. Play them to their strengths while gradually developing weaker areas.

Making 'confidence building' a key part of your leadership work is the start of the path to greater freedom for you, and everyone else in the agency.

What could you do to build confidence within the agency this week?