Prospecting is a funny game. There are times when prospects you never expect to materialize or possess great value, prove to be your best clients.
I’ve seen it on our side of our business as we reach out to agencies to learn more about their agency new business needs.
Bigger isn’t always better in the world of being an agency’s outsourced lead generation partner. A small handful of our longest standing clients are small shops – maybe 3-5 people strong.
They’ve stuck with us for nearly 8 years.
I’ve also seen it in our agency programs, where we operate as their outsourced new business partner.
I’ve seen it on two levels. One is the selection of targets. And the other is the prioritization of who to move down the line to close.
I’m a big believer in not self-selecting – to too great a degree.
Without question, one has to establish some parameters around what they want to target – based on size, location, industry, spending (when available).
But what I’ve seen happen at times-agencies want to determine who they think is an ideal partner for them, without any real sense as to what their situation is.
When you start narrowing down your list to too great a degree before you even pick up the phone, email or mail something to them, I believe, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
There really is no art to self-selecting…other than to self-select based on criteria that strategically places a prospect in a space that aligns with the type of business you want to represent.
Let your New Business Director, or your new business process, ferret out the good opportunities from those that aren’t as good.
If you self-select too early in the new business development process, you might miss a few gems.
The other challenging area of self-selection is when one determines who they will and won’t push down the line to close.
I’ve seen plenty of examples of our agency clients meeting with prospects where the meetings went well, but the client fails to nurture that prospect down the line.
I wrote a post very early on titled “The Second Hardest Part About Agency New Business” and it spoke to the challenges of taking a productive meeting, throwing on the sales hat, and nudging that prospect down the line to close.
If it’s a good company and you had a good meeting…there’s something there.
Maybe not today, but someday. We see it quite frequently in our agency new business programs.
If you let them go and don’t keep your face in front of them, the next 15 agencies will and you’ll lose the opportunity when that consideration set is revisited by the marketer.
So whether it’s you…or someone in your agency, or in our world, our New Business Directors, who help our clients with follow-up calls, setting second meetings, or offering ideas for value-added content they can push in front of past meeting prospects. Regardless of who does it, it needs to be done.
So keep the art (?) of self-selection to a minimum.
If you do too much of it, you might self-select your way right out some fairly solid business.
Author: Mark Sneider
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.