Business mixed emotions

Business mixed emotionsI’ve been running the RSW/US business for the past 9 years and while we’ve certainly met with our share of successes, we had a couple of firsts this year that we look at with mixed emotions.

We’ve had a lot of clients win a lot of business, but never before have we had a client win so much business that they had to let us go.

It happened to us twice this year.

The interesting thing is both of these clients started slow – not on our end.  We got them plenty of meetings.  Where it started slow was on their end – in being able to effectively manage a sales process in a manner that aligned well with our agency new business process.

Most agencies are really good when they stand in front of a prospect, when making their pitch or giving their capabilities presentation.

Problem is many agencies don’t know how to put on their sales hat leading up to the call, don’t know how to effectively manage a call, and many don’t do a very good job of nurturing prospects post a call to get them to close.

These two agencies were case in point.

Each had a successful agency.  Each had most of their business come in through referrals and networking.

Neither of them knew how to manage a sales process in a manner that could carry a new lead to close.

Like with most of our programs, the new business director working on these accounts listened in on some of the initial intro calls set up for the agency.

What they heard was the principals “default” to talking mostly about themselves without much regard for learning about the prospect’s needs.  They tended to favor their capabilities presentation over coming to the table with smart questions that could get the prospect talking – which could then open up opportunities to showcase ideas and work they had done with their clients.

In each case, we worked with the clients to improve their approach, their questioning methods, and spent time post each meeting to discuss appropriate strategies to follow-up and move the prospect down the path to close.

Nothing about our selling process (or any selling process) is easy.

It takes a willing agency to think about their approach differently, take counsel when they may have never taken counsel before, and put on a sales hat – pushing themselves to do a little more than they normally would if they were to go at the new business process on their own.

The great news is these two agencies have won some solid business that has helped their agencies grow, helped them hire new employees, and put them in a super spot as they look to the future.

This is why we are in business.  We want to see our clients win.

Tough thing is seeing them go.

We hope they’ll be back soon!

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Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.