Our owner Mark and I were in a new client kickoff meeting recently and at one point during the day, one of the principals said, in regards to prospecting and initial meetings,
“Our story doesn’t change; we just need to find the right ears.”
I loved it and told him immediately I was “borrowing it.” (Thanks Scott.)
So what does that mean for agency new business, how you regard it and how you live it?
1) Know yourself as an agency and stay the course.
More specifically, no matter what type of agency you are, hone your positioning and do not waver from that in agency new business meetings.
Doesn’t mean your story won’t evolve, but don’t be a prospect chameleon-you can’t and don’t want to be all things to your prospects.
2) Agency new business is a numbers game, it simply is.
BUT, you of course must be smart; numbers alone will cause you nothing but sales misery.
Hope is not a strategy-every prospect you go after should be, on its face, a potential client.
Doesn’t always work out that way, but you’ve got to hedge your bets by creating very specific prospect profiles before even thinking about going after them.
Otherwise you’re spinning your wheels.
3) Don’t take every meeting.
While it may be a numbers game, agency new business is also about qualifying those prospects once you’re in initial conversations.
While a face-to-face initial meeting is ultimately the ideal, the client I mentioned earlier can tell fairly quickly if a prospect is a good fit with an initial phone call.
He’s learned to craft the conversation around certain questions that are reliable triggers as to moving forward.
Granted, this is not always so easy depending on what kind of agency you are and the work you do, but you must put an effort against creating a strategy for closing with that very first call.
4) Say no.
Can be very difficult.
But even after you’ve had that initial conversation and the prospect has jumped those initial hurdles, seeming to be a good fit, I don’t need to tell you, as you get deeper sometimes you just know it’s not the right potential client.
At that point you need to bail.
Easy for me to say, as agency circumstances may dictate otherwise, but we’ve now come full circle.
You’ve got to have a combination of consistent inbound and outbound efforts, however small to start, to find those “ears” and dazzle the hell out of your clients with all you can do for them.
As Director of Business Development at RSW/US, Lee brings new agency clients on board and handles marketing and social media for RSW/US. You can find him on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+LeeMcKnightJr/) or Twitter (@leemcknightjr).