Agency New Business

This is Part 4 of a 17 chapter eBook, “Agency New Business: Put On That Damn Sales Hat,” which you can download at no cost here.

The eBook covers everything from pre-prospecting preparation to working opportunities to close. 

The majority of the eBook focuses on elements that agencies either often overlook, are too busy to consider, or are simply too lazy to pursue.

The agency landscape is changing rapidly and daily, not only for agencies, but for clients: doing things the same way won’t cut it.

We released “Put On That Damn Sales Hat” as an overall agency new business primer for marketing services firms, so they can put on their sales hat with purpose and confidence.


 That Damn Sales Hat


Chapter 4: It’s Not About You My Friend!

I was in a final pitch presentation for the Domain Chandon business – a search we were managing back in 2010.

We had three agencies in the final pitch and each were extremely strong.

One of the agencies started their presentation with a review of some outstanding work they did for the Washington Lottery.

Beautiful case study with multiple platforms, great integration and very clever strategy.

The only problem? The campaign spend was $30M-$40M and Domain Chandon had $1.5M to spend.

End of the line for that agency.

No discussion as to why they were sharing the case study.

No articulation of how the work for the Lottery related to the challenges of Domain.

Again, beautiful work, but all about the agency and not about the client.

Warning Here

Don’t fall into the trap that most agencies fall prey to:  Talking mostly about themselves and not about the marketer and their business.

In our 2011-2012 survey on agency new business, 79% of marketers stated that they feel like agencies talk too much about themselves when they are in meetings with them – and not enough about their business.

Wanting, Not Needing

Marketers tell us they expect more during initial meetings with marketing agencies.

Think about it…if someone opens a door for you, they’re doing it because they believe you can offer them something they aren’t getting now.

But that said, they don’t want to be told this, they’d like to walk away feeling this.

If you went to a doctor and she or he immediately jumped into solving your condition without asking any questions, how would you feel about that doctor?

Not all that great.

If he or she start by probing and discussing your condition, you’ll feel a hell of a lot better than when you walked in (at least mentally).

Your prospects don’t want to know how great you are.

I mean of course they do…but they don’t want to be knocked over the head with it…or bored with it by being taken through a dry capabilities presentation to get the message.

Agency New Business

“I Loved the Way They Were Thinking About the Account!”

Prospects are much more interested in themselves and what they’re doing…so let them do the talking…but you need to do the guiding.

Part of what marketers tell us they want (and no surprise here) is an agency that understands their business and their category.

Having a conversation about somebody’s business and asking smart, strategic questions, puts the prospect in a better place about you.

Just had an RSW/AgencySearch marketing client come back from a visit with an agency moving into the next round of a search.

Our client felt great about the meeting because “…they clearly came to the table asking smart questions and were well prepared for our conversation.  I loved the way in which they are already thinking about the account”.

We suggest to our agency clients that they close the laptop.

Take the crutch of the capabilities presentation away.

Think about what that prospect’s world is all about, what problems they might be facing, what issues they might like to work to resolve.

As we talked in previous chapters, formulate some questions that are smart and business/marketing focused that you can lead with when you meet with a prospect.

Honesty IS the Best Policy

Tell the prospect that you don’t want to present and do all the talking, because you know that’s what everyone else does.

We’ll talk about this a bit more in upcoming chapters, but part of the exercise as you prepare for this meeting is asking yourself where you want to end up, at the end.

Where do you want the prospect to be and what do you want your next step to be?

Tale of the 14 Kansas City Look-Alikes

So remember, if all you do is walk in and talk about all the great things you do, you’re going to look like every other agency.

I’ll never forget…the year I started the business (in 2005)…visiting Kansas City for a meeting among agencies that were all part of this network.

I gave each of them a transparency (remember those!) and asked them to write their elevator pitch on the transparency.

14 of the 15 agencies all said the same thing:  We’re strategic; Our clients love working with us; We are fun to be around; We are hard working, etc.

Think about what your prospect wants.  What they want to talk about.  What’s important to them.

Remember, in the end…no matter what step of the new business development process…you always need to put on that Damn Sales Hat!

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.