When agencies are considering our services, one of the first questions I ask is how they’ve handled new business in the past and are currently handling it.
I ask the same question at the conferences we attend.
One response I often receive when an agency is considering a change, in regards to past performance: “we had someone internally but the meetings didn’t go anywhere.”
If this describes your current new business program, you need to think about what that really means, because there are several, brief stages of analysis you should subject your current meetings to.
Obviously if you feel the meetings from your new business program, whoever is handling it-you, a new business director, a team, etc, “aren’t going anywhere, a change needs to be made.
But that change can take a few different paths.
The first place to start, perhaps unsurprisingly, is asking,
Why you think meetings are going nowhere.
While new business, as in life, is rarely black and white, sometimes it is, and in certain scenarios, you need to make a clean break.
That clean break may be:
–Changing your new business director: they’re too junior, don’t know how to sell marketing services, aren’t the right fit or aren’t representing you the way you should be
–Dissolving the internal new business team: In our experience, rarely does a new business team work. There are exceptions of course, and ideally the whole agency contributes to new business in some way, but there’s a reason for the expression, “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
–Taking the responsibility off the agency principal in charge of new business: This scenario, again, can work, but it’s extremely difficult with everything else she/he has to do.
There’s the black and white, but in most situations, there will be grayer shades, and before you discount the meetings coming in, you have to ask these questions:
Are your prospects the right fit?
I mean in terms of geography, size (revenue), sector and title.
If not, you need to reevaluate who you’re going after.
Who’s taking the meeting?
Whoever it is-you, a new business director, team member-are they right person?
For example, are they asking questions relative to the prospect’s business?
What are your expectations and are they realistic?
Presupposing your prospects are the right fit, what are you expecting out of a first meeting?
Here’s a baseline I’d suggest-they have a high level of interest in who you are and how you can help them and they want to talk.
Anything more from a first meeting and you need to recalibrate expectations.
Neither you or anyone else can manufacture an opportunity, timing truly is everything.
Which goes hand-in-hand with. . .
Are you following up?
This is the new business “classic,” if you will.
I’ve heard it many times-a meeting actually goes pretty well, but according to the agency “it went nowhere” because the prospect never got back to them.
I leave you with three words: