6 Reasons Why Initial Agency New Business Meetings Go Nowhere


Always a good idea to revisit the basics.  For those of you handling new business internally, we’ve written before on how hard it is to initially break through to prospects.

Once you have broken through, however, the process has just started.

Next comes your first meeting, and the steps afterward.  We talk with our own clients about this, specifically what to embrace and what to avoid.

First, you have to set your expectations, understanding that this is only the first step. Granted, that’s not always the case, sometimes the timing is just right, but on average, you’re not signing the contract at that point. And that’s OK.

But here’s 6 Reasons Why Initial Agency New Business Meetings Go Nowhere:

1. Too many people in the first meeting: When you can, keep it one-on-one, especially if it’s a call to start. Sure there are exceptions-we’ve seen agencies that have it down to a science, and they can tag-team smoothly in first meetings.  But that’s atypical.  If there’s more than one person, the prospect can feel claustrophobic, and from a tactical standpoint, inevitably you will all talk over each other at some point, probably more than once, breaking up any sense of rapport.

2. You talked too much: Inherently you know you need to zip it and listen more than you talk, but it’s easy to slip into presentation mode without realizing it. One way to avoid that is crafting a core group of questions to focus on. (See #3 and #4 below)

3. You didn’t do your homework: Without a doubt, you are insanely busy-everyone is. Why even bother trying to land this potential client if you’re not willing to spend the time garnering an initial understanding of the company?

4. You didn’t come in with a plan: If it’s a referral, you ideally have some idea of the situation and you can speak to that, but even when that meeting comes from a pure prospecting effort, there are steps you can take to make sure you’re armed with smart questions. It’s all about providing yourself with a road map prior to the meeting. First, follow #3 above and arm yourself with a working knowledge of the company and any current news.  Next, and this is where agencies really struggle-focus on what got you to this point in the first place. I’m preaching to the choir when I say, this can be tough, especially when a prospect hasn’t given you or your new business director a whole lot of information up front.  In that case, trace all your points of contact back to the first one.  In most cases, you’ll see what they opened or clicked on-what was in that email or series of emails?  Was it a specific case study or industry trend?  What business challenges did you solve there?  Focus on any and all of those when crafting a series of questions.  And then have another 1-2 challenges you know that industry is facing generally.  You have to be careful, as that may not be their challenge, but it shows you’re speaking their language.

5. You went full-on agency speak: Similarly to #2 above, you may not realize that you’ve slipped into a pattern of language that makes you sound like every other agency, or are dropping buzzwords with nothing concrete to back them up. Remember, you’re speaking to a human-don’t haphazardly throw out “paradigm shifts”, or “growth hacking” or “robust solutions”. (Fill in your own annoying buzzwords here). Talk to them and not at them, have a conversation.

6.You didn’t follow up: While still surprising to me that agencies don’t have this seared into their brains, it happens on a daily basis. One great meeting does not equal a new client. You cannot count on them getting back to you. Obviously, don’t pester them, but you really shouldn’t be surprised if you let 3 weeks go by and you haven’t heard back.

I don’t need to tell you, new business is hard and those first meetings can go all kinds of directions.  But if you keep all I’ve mentioned above in mind, you’ll be more confident and prepared walking in.

Author: Lee McKnight Jr

I’m the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at lee@rswus.com. What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.