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Need Pipeline? Then You Need to Build A Pipeline Generation Flywheel 

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Mark Colgan

You don’t need me to tell you, but the pipeline is the lifeblood of your agency.  

Yes, you need a good offer. Yes, you need a great team. Yes, you need to know how to deliver results. 

But without pipeline, you simply won’t have a chance to refine your offer, build a team and deliver results for your clients

The simplest way to view pipeline is that pipeline = conversations with potential clients. That’s it. The more conversations with potential clients, the more clients you’re likely to sign up. It’s a very simple equation. 

Pipeline Generation is just the things you do to start these conversations. There are dozens of activities that you can execute in order to generate pipeline.  And I know from my own experience how long the to-do list is as an agency owner. So I want to share a very lean approach that you can implement over the next few weeks to increase the number of conversations you have with potential clients. 

What is the Pipeline Generation Flywheel? 

Simply put, the pipeline generation flywheel is a combination of activities and actions, which include: 

Partnerships & Referrals 

LinkedIn & Content 

Outbound System 

I’ll dive into each of these and how you can approach them all in more detail below.  

At this stage, I want to manage expectations. While the flywheel will help generate pipeline, it’s not a silver bullet. It’s actually multiple lead bullets that if used correctly can consistently generate conversations with ideal clients. Below you’ll see how quickly these tactics helped me generate interested conversations after I implemented it for my own business: 

We’re almost ready to dive into the tactics. But before we do, here are some assumptions that I’m making: 

➡️ You already have a clear understanding of your ideal clients from a company perspective. You know that some types of companies/industries are better fits for your services than others. 

➡️ You also know who the right people to speak with are (in the above companies) who are facing the challenges that you have the solution to. 

➡️ You have a clear offer that resonates with these people and companies. 

➡️ You have the means to deliver the service outlined in your offer. 

Ok, now we’re ready to get tactical. 

Referrals and Partnerships 

Leveraging referrals and partnerships is the quickest way to start conversations with potential clients. 


To generate referrals you can simply reach out to people in your network and ask! 

Simple, right? 

If you’re wondering how to get started, here are some places to find people to reach out to: 

🤝 Friends who are also on LinkedIn 

🤝 Former bosses and colleagues 

🤝 Your current clients (if they are happy with your service) 

🤝 Partners you’ve worked with 

🤝 Clients you’ve worked with in the past 

🤝 Other folk working in the same industry 

🤝 Even competitors (I see most competing companies as potential partners) 

How To Approach Referrals:

👉 – Create a spreadsheet and write all the names, emails and LinkedIn URL’s of people in your network 

👉 – Work out if you are overdue a catch up call or you have spoken recently. If you are due a catch up call, message to them to book a call to catch up.  

👉 – Draft emails which cover context from previous conversations, an update from you about what you’re doing and who you’re working with, and ask them for an intro to anyone they know that fits the above.

👉 – Send the emails.

Super simple and very effective. 

Additionally, you might find that a few of your connections also fit your ideal client profile and your new messaging resonated with their pain points. Perfect! 


Establishing partnerships with key business partners can accelerate your pipeline generation efforts. However, not all partners are created equally. Others have more motivation to partner with you. The aim is to build a win-win-win scenario for everyone involved. 

At a high level, there are 4 types of partners: 

🤝 Channel – Tech partners 

🤝 Strategic – Complimentary services 

🤝 Community 

🤝 Other – Brokers, VC’s etc 

I’ll expand upon each one below. 

Channel partner 

Different categories of business (for example, a software company in your industry) and growing together. 

👉 If you offer Conversion Rate Optimisation services – then VWO could be a channel partner 

👉 If you’re an eCommerce Agency – then Shopify or BigCommerce would be a channel partner 

Strategic/Agency partner 

Other agencies or companies that offer complementary services to the same clients in your industry. Think about services before your clients work with you AND after they work with you, e.g. 

👉 If you’re a podcast guest booking service – then a podcast production agency could be a strategic partner 

👉 If you’re a marketing automation agency – then a web development agency could be a strategic partner 

Also, don’t discount your competitors (especially the more established/expensive ones). 

Community partner 

This one is pretty self explanatory, but most industries and niches have communities. Some may be run by competitors and others can seem a little unfriendly if you’re a “pesky agency trying to peddle your wares”. But it’s definitely worth seeing if there is an opportunity to collaborate on content. This is less of a direct sales play here, but showing up and providing value keeps you top of mind within the community members and the community owners/facilitators. Simply search “niche” or “job role” AND community into Google to get started with these i.e. “Product Manager Community”, e.g.

👉 If you help agency owners with sales 😉 – then agency communities like OMG would be a great fit. 

👉 If you’re a product UX agency – then communities like Product Marketing Alliance could be good to join. 

Other Partners 

This is more of a catch all category for partners that fall outside the channel, strategic and community partners. Examples include VC’s / Accelerators / Revenue Based Financing companies or even individual consultants or coaches that work with your ideal clients. 

How to Approach Partnerships:

👉 Create a spreadsheet with the company name, contact information, type of partner and any other information that you need.

👉 Draft an email and reach out to them to see if they are open to exploring win-win-win partnerships.

👉 Agree on a partnership model (this is very specific to you, your service and the industry you operate in). 

A quick note on when it comes to finding new partners, here is a framework I’ve used in the past: Helps, Sells and Funds: 

✅ – Helps – your clients achieve the goals their aiming to achieve (either before they need your service or after) 

✅ – Sells – services or software to the same clients 

✅ – Funds – your clients in order for them to scale 

Now we’re cooking! 

I recommend reaching out to new potential partners each month, but focus on a smaller number and build quality relationships. These partnerships can have a compounding effect for opening up new doors for content collaborations and client work. 

Content and LinkedIn 


Consistently creating high-quality, informative content and sharing it where your prospects spend time allows you to showcase your knowledge and expertise in your field. This helps in building trust and credibility with your audience and leads to increased respect and recognition within your industry. 

For me, content has always been about building relationships. I aim to create content that resonates with my ideal clients in an attempt to foster deeper engagement that goes beyond a transactional relationship. By targeting content to your ideal clients, you attract the right audience, leading to higher-quality leads. These leads are more likely to be interested in your products or services, increasing the chances of conversion. 

If you’re still on the fence about creating content, then let me share a huge risk of not doing so. You simply won’t be seen by prospects who are actively searching for solutions that you could provide. And if you’re lucky enough to be seen, you may not be trusted – as you’re not putting out the trust signals (via content). In summary, a lack of presence can lead to lower brand awareness and less revenue. 

How to approach Content 

There’s a few ways to create content. The easiest way is to just take news articles that relate to your service/industry and share them. You can take this one step further by adding your commentary on these news articles/updates. 

However, the best content for you to focus on is organic content that you create yourself. Here’s how I went from a blank piece of paper to over 30 content ideas… 

I imagined I was writing a book on the problem I was solving for my clients. Below are the steps I went through: 

I wasn’t aiming for perfection here, I just wanted to get it all out of my head and down on paper:

📖 – Opened up a blank Word/Google Doc and titled it “Sales for Agencies” 

📖 – Wrote out what the chapters of that book would be. So introduction, first thing to think about, second thing to consider …etc… Conclusion. 

📖 – Then for each chapter heading, I wrote 3 – 5 bullets of what the main sections of the chapters would be. 

📖 – Now I had the outline of the things I could create content about. See these as blog post titles. 

📖 – Closed the document and revisited it in 24-48 hours. 

📖 – Went through all the chapter headings and added more things while tidying up the document. 

By the end of this exercise I had over 30 ideas for content. 

For each piece of content I could expand even more by thinking about how to make it more valuable: 

✅ – Checklists 

✅ – Frameworks 

✅ – Templates 

✅ – Step by Step guides 

✅ – Etc.

Oh and you need to share the content. Try not to overthink this. I aim to share a minimum of 4 posts on LinkedIn each work week. If you’re just getting started, aim for 1 post a week, then 2 and work your way up. 


This is perhaps the easiest step in landing your first few clients and it’s all about positioning. If like most agency owners you sell to other businesses, then LinkedIn is going to be the best channel for you to optimise. 

Your profile needs to explain how your service solves the challenges your ideal clients are facing. Simple enough right? For now, the only thing you need to optimise on LinkedIn is your personal profile. This is the main real estate that you have to promote yourself. If you haven’t already, feel free to check my profile out here – 

How To Approach Optimising Your Personal Profile 

Personally, I recommend turning on Creator Mode if you can as it gives you more features to improve your reach. It also allows people to follow you without connecting (I’ve had a few calls with prospects that never connected or engaged with my profile, but were following the content I was producing). You can also add profile topics (through hashtags) and it unlocks a few other cool features like: 

👉 – LinkedIn Live 

👉 – Audio Events 

👉 – Newsletters (I currently have over 2000 subscribers to my newsletter) 

👉 – Better post analytics 

Once you’ve done this you can use the following checklist to ensure you’ve covered the basics. 

👉 – Profile Picture – add a good quality photo 

👉 – Banner – add a banner which also speaks to the problem/service you offer (you can use Canva for this) 

👉 – Headline – to explain who you help and how 

👉 – Featured Section – to add any valuable content / links to book a call 

👉 – About Section – to share more about your personal journey and background 

👉 – Experience Section – add more information about who you help and how. 

👉 – You can also add featured media here – in my case I share more links to valuable content that should resonate with my ideal clients. 

Now that we have content and LinkedIn sorted, it’s time to move onto outbound systems.  

Outbound Systems 

I could write a whole series of posts on Outbound Systems (if you want to see this, give Vicky and Chris a nudge for me). For the purpose of this post though, I’ll keep it simple. Outbound only really works when you know what you’re selling. And at this stage, I recommend that you run outbound campaigns to multiply how many conversations you start.  


Cold emailing allows you to directly reach potential clients much faster than most other channels (including those mentioned above). It’s also pretty cost-effective. It doesn’t require a large budget, making it ideal for agencies with limited resources. After the initial planning and setup of your campaigns, you can contact a large number of potential clients without incurring substantial expenses. 

Additionally, it scales like a dream. Once you’ve found a message that resonates and you have a great source of leads, you can send emails 24/7. If you decide to not use outbound campaigns, you might miss out on the chance to connect with potential clients who are not reached through other marketing channels. 

Sold on outbound yet? If so, read on. 

How To Approach Outbound Campaigns 

A lot has changed in outbound email, but below are the high level steps you need to take: 

📧 – Warming up alternative domains to send emails from 

📧 –Building lists of ideal clients using LinkedIn and other data sources 

📧 – Drafting emails around specific challenges and problems I know my clients are facing 

📧 – Loading these draft emails into my cold email tool and planning out the sequence 

📧 – Sending test emails to myself to make sure the formatting and message is correct. 

The goal is for your outbound email campaigns to work alongside other activities like partnerships, referrals, LinkedIn outreach and content. I’ve created a free A to Z Cold Email Crash Course on this. It’s a four-part video course which provides a comprehensive guide on launching successful cold email campaigns. You can also access an 80 page workbook which you can follow along to build your campaign. There’s no form to fill out and you can access it here: 

LinkedIn Outreach 

Finally we have LinkedIn outreach. Reaching out directly on LinkedIn is one of the quickest ways to get a response. Not everyone is as active on LinkedIn as you might be, but the majority of people who have a completed profile are likely to check LinkedIn at least once a week. The aim of this tactic is to connect with and send messages to as many people that fit your ICP as you can. However, you need to be mindful of LinkedIn’s current limits (as of March 2024): 

👉 – 100 connection requests a week 

👉 – No limit on messages to 1st connections – but play it safe with 20-30 per day. 

How to Approach LinkedIn Outreach:

👉 – Build a list of prospects that match your ICP and persona 

👉 – First look for 1st connections 

👉 – Second, focus on 2nd and 3rd connections 

👉 – Connect with them (if not connected already) 

👉 – Monitor new contacts that connected recently (you can bookmark this link:

👉 – Send messages asking if they interested in some of the content you created earlier 

👉 – Send the content 

👉 – Follow-up a week later asking if they found the content useful 

👉 – Attempt to convert to a meeting (if they didn’t already do so). 

Another messaging tactic is to ask your connection if they know anyone that might need help with the solution you offer. Here’s an example: 

“Hi {first name}  – do you know anyone in your network that might need help {problem you solve}? 

Many thanks, {your name}.”

It’s a simple message that you can send at scale which might generate some interest either from the person themselves or someone in their own network. 

If you’re looking for a lightweight tool to help you keep track of your LinkedIn outreach then you can consider the following: 

A trusty spreadsheet  

How To Maintain Momentum In Your Flywheel

Much like most of the advice on this article, the answer is simple… 

Increase the inputs.  

Each week: 

👉 Share content via LinkedIn updates

👉 Connect with new potential prospects 

👉 Send DM’s to your first connections on LinkedIn 

👉 Reach out to people who can refer you 

👉 Update existing partners and explore new partners 

👉 Add more prospects to your email campaigns 

Each month: 

👉 Produce one valuable asset and use this throughout your weekly activity 

So, as you can see, not a silver bullet in sight. Just a whole lot of lead bullets. If you want to scale the above activity you have a few options.  

Work with an Assistant or Virtual Assistant.  

An assistant can take over the following tasks quite easily (but you will need to guide them): 

👉 Connect with new potential prospects 

👉 Send DM’s to your first connections on LinkedIn 

👉 Reach out to people who can refer you 

👉 Add more prospects to your email campaigns 

I’d recommend you spend time on documenting your process and building the lists (especially partners and referrals). Have some templated messages you can share with them also. 

Work with an Agency (if you can find the right one)

For creating written content 

I’d recommend finding a ghostwriter who can squeeze out your expertise and knowledge and produce the content in your tone of voice. Two wonderful people I know that do this well are Belen Wagaw and Gabriele Grikstaite – I don’t have a referral agreement with these, but they might buy me a beer the next time I see them. 

For creating video content 

Another option is to work with an agency that interviews you and then turns that interview into multiple pieces of content that positions you as a thought leader in your niche. The team at Content Crew are fantastic and this requires very little effort from you. Again, no monetary compensation with this company, just want to share a good recommendation. 

For scaling outbound emails 

I know what you’re thinking! You’ve tried this before and it didn’t work. I’m not surprised. With little to no barrier to entry, anyone can set up one of these agencies. And there’s a lot of charlatans out there. Now, I only recommend outsourcing this when you are confident in your offering, you can service clients and have plenty of case studies and testimonials to back up your claims. You also should plan for capacity for when the clients start signing up. 

Here are a few recommendations of agencies that I know personally and have worked with in the past (I do have a couple of partnership agreements with them – but feel free to not mention my name if you prefer):

👉 Social Chaps – they focus on leveraging content and webinars as the reason to reach out 

👉 Hypergen – they leverage triggers and intent data to launch campaigns  

👉 ColdIQ – similar to above they also have a deep understanding of technology and AI 

Wrapping up 

If you take one thing away from this post, it is that: 

You need to have more conversations. 

How you achieve this is up to you. Even implementing one part of the flywheel will help. But implementing all three parts will accelerate the conversations you have. 


Conversations = Pipeline. 

Pipeline = Cash Flow (assuming you close the deals) 

Cashflow = Not stressing about payroll, keeping the lights on and enjoying being an agency owner. 

And not feeling like the Agency owns you. 

About the Author

Mark Colgan

Mark Colgan is the Founder of where he helps agency owners to generate a pipeline that actually increases revenue, not just booked meetings (and sleep a little easier at night).

Mark previously ran a 100 person agency and more recently started and exited a Digital PR agency in 2022. He’s also a Sales Prospecting coach and has taught over 1,000 students. Mark is from the UK and now lives in Lisbon, Portugal.

  • 🔑 Pipeline equals potential client conversations; more conversations likely mean more clients.
  • 🔄 The Pipeline Generation Flywheel includes partnerships & referrals, LinkedIn & content, and an outbound system to boost client conversations.
  • 🤝 Leverage referrals by reaching out to your network and establish partnerships for mutual benefits to accelerate pipeline growth.
  • ✍️ Produce and share high-quality content to build trust, credibility, and attract ideal clients, thereby increasing chances of conversion.
  • 📈 Utilize outbound email campaigns and LinkedIn outreach to directly contact potential clients, multiplying conversation opportunities.
  • 🚀 Maintain momentum in your pipeline flywheel by consistently sharing content, connecting with prospects, and exploring new partnerships.