30-50% of the meetings we get clients turn into a proposal opportunity.  I’m kicking off this post with that stat, because recently I’ve had several conversations with agency prospects who’ve asked about the other 50%.

I don’t get asked it a lot, but I like it when I do, and I bring it up regardless.

That other 50% typically constitute those meetings with a longer tail. I’m not going to tell you that every single meeting is a home run, but part of the reason our full-service program is set up the way it is, is so our new business directors can help nurture that other 50%, where it makes sense.

Not every meeting will be a work-in-hand opportunity, whether it’s set by us, or if an agency is handling new business internally.

Because you simply can’t manufacture opportunities-timing truly is everything.

But, there have been several meetings we’ve gotten for clients recently, where opportunities became evident that weren’t when the meeting was originally set.

In those cases, we prepared our client with the prospect’s situation, they were on the list we built for, and which was approved by, our client (one of the first steps), and there was a high level of interest in what our client could bring to the table. But, there was no immediate work in hand.  That can happen and we communicate as much information as we can to our client in that regard.

These types of meetings are often where agencies drop the ball.

Their first thought is, “well, if there’s no work in hand, should we even take this meeting?”

Well, to be fair, sometimes the answer may be no.  And depending on a lot of factors, you’re probably not jumping on a flight across the country at that point.

But otherwise, you must keep an open mind in these situations.

Going back to those clients I mentioned, they went into those meetings with an open mind, performed initial research, and prepared key questions, specific to the industry and work they had done.

Half hour into these conversations, what started with no immediate work turned into several challenges that weren’t initially mentioned and that the prospect really hadn’t fully fleshed out or realized until our client tapped into the right line of questioning.

It won’t always happen, and to be fair, there are those agency principals or new business directors, who have an innate talent for extracting insights from prospects.

They can sit down with that prospect and have the ability to ask really good questions about the prospect’s business, getting them laser-focused on the challenges they’re facing.

A lot of you reading don’t have that talent, but you can still get the same result.  Three quick tips on how:

1) Prior to the meeting, take 30 minutes or so to study up your prospect and her/his company

Far too often, agencies take 5 minutes before the meeting and their only prep is to glance at the prospect’s website.

(Although that’s better than nothing, certainly.)

2) Formulate 7-10 insightful, industry-focused questions before the meeting. This is obviously easier to do if you’re focused on one or a few verticals, because you can re-use those questions to a great extent in every meeting.  And use those questions.

3) Keep an open mind. If you go in with a negative or circumspect mental attitude, you’ve already gone a long way toward assuring yourself a poor meeting.

Absolutely there are those meetings that never should have happened, and if that continues with great frequency, the overall process needs to be examined, but on average, if all the other boxes towards a right fit are checked and the prospect wants to meet with you, odds are good there’s a need there.