As we were developing the Ups and Downs of Agency New Business infographic, a colleague here at RSW/US who is a New Business Director, shared a “down” that relates closely to “Level 4” of the infographic: Manage the Meeting.

This experience happened about five years ago, but was so painful, the memory still haunts.


The story follows in this post.   Tips on how to prevent “downs” like the one in this story will come next week.

A True Story from an RSW/US New Business Director

My client was invited to participate in an RFP process Best Buy was conducting.  The first step was a conference call scheduled with a Marketing Director, we’ll call “Pat”.  This was a particularly exciting opportunity, as the RFP process was already underway, and I’d been able to get my client added to it.

This introductory call was scheduled for 10:30 on a Tuesday, and as is custom practice, I called Pat the day before to confirm the conference call.  I got voicemail, which is not unusual, and left a message.

I backed up the voicemail message with an email the morning of the call, essentially saying, “just in case you don’t pick up voicemail before we are scheduled to talk, just wanted to confirm the plans for our conference call at 10:30 this morning…”

Nano-seconds after hitting “send” an auto-reply came back from Pat saying she was out of the office unexpectedly due to illness.

Obviously, my next step would be rescheduling the call.

But, Pat went cold.   Icy cold.  Just how icy? 

I did reach Pat later in the week.  When I asked her about rescheduling, I got a frosty reply: “No thanks.  It will not be necessary.”


What happened? Pat had been so enthusiastic, welcoming and engaging before.

Here’s what happened…

The morning of the call, my client emailed their presentation to Pat, so that she would have it in her hands at the time of the call.  (Of course, they received the out of office auto-reply as well.)  This was a “standard” capabilities presentation.  Standard, except that they occasionally modify or customize it for specific audiences and presentations.

As usual in the agency world, the morning the client emailed the presentation to Pat was hectic.  Lots of things going on.  They did not take time to review the presentation before they sent it to Pat. It turned out the file they sent contained information that had been customized for another company they had been pitching earlier.

Pat did not elaborate when I tried rescheduling the call what it was in particular in the presentation that turned her off, but once I saw it (I had not received the advanced copy), I could see several things that could disqualify my client in this RFP process.   Spelling errors, sensitive information relating to the company that had received the presentation before Best Buy, sloppiness.

Not the standard Pat was seeking from agencies she had invited to participate in the RFP process.

Door closed.  Opportunity lost.

Watch for tips and ideas on how to avoid a “down” in new business development like this next week.

In the meantime, download the Ups and Downs of Agency New Business infographic.


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.