Several reasons why agencies decide to partner with us for ad agency new business-one of those being dissatisfaction with previous internal new business directors, often stories of them sabotaging that first meeting with a prospect.

When I hear that, I always ask the agency principal to provide further detail-where did it go wrong?

Often those reasons are legitimate-the meetings just weren’t good, qualified meetings.

But I also hear situations that could have been avoided, sabotaging a first meeting that could have resulted in work.

Three situations where agencies don’t get it right: Three Ways You May Be Sabotaging That First Meeting

1)      No upfront strategy

Specifically, the agency never should have reached out in the first place (or taken the referral).

This is where tightly crafted, purposeful messaging, as told through the sales lens, is critical, coupled with the right prospect targets.

Understandably, not every agency has the manpower or funds to generate laser-focused prospect lists.

But you’ve got to take the time to first decide who is the ideal client-where do they reside, what is their target revenue, what sectors do they fall in, etc.

Do this, and you automatically clear the first hurdle in acquiring a quality meeting.

 Three Ways You May Be Sabotaging That First Meeting

2)      Aren’t willing to talk to a prospect unless there’s work in hand

While understandable given past situations, if it’s the right prospect to begin with (see above), it’s not a useless meeting, even if the prospect doesn’t have work in hand.

Don’t misunderstand, those work-in-hand, face-to-face first meetings are fantastic, but as we all know, it doesn’t always work that way.

If you’ve done your homework, in theory any prospect on a good list is worth having a conversation with.

Does that mean you jump on a plane across the country in this scenario-no, but you take the time to start the relationship.

3)      No ongoing awareness-they don’t stick with it

This is key-don’t take this step, and regardless of how well-suited the prospect is for your business, that first meeting will indeed be useless.

Prospects go dark, sometimes there’s nothing you can do about that, but you (the agency) going dark, should never be the reason a prospect didn’t become a client.


Technology gives you everything you need to set reminders and keep up with that prospect.

I hear agency principals tell me they  lose sleep over how to stay in touch in a meaningful way.

They over think it and feel they have to stay in touch with amazing, original content that will completely blow away the prospect.

That would be ideal, certainly, but keeping the outreach timing respectful, showing how your agency can help through an overall understanding of the sector and keeping it tightly focused and short are sound guidelines.

No way around it, new business is a process, but once you have the process in place, you’re in an infinitely better place.

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 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.