The Main Goal of Your First New Business Meeting Is Not What You Think

OK, the main goal of any first new business meeting is actually getting a second meeting, but that’s not what I’m thinking about as I write this post.

Some agencies, regardless of how they’re driving their new business program, feel like first meetings with a prospect should be solid gold and close fairly quickly.

Those agencies tend to be erratic in new business strategy, hire and fire new business personnel fairly often, and are generally not pleased with their new business process.

In many cases, all the above factors can be traced directly to how agencies handle first meetings.

A few reasons why those initial meetings are perceived as poor:

1. They don’t have the proper mindset going in: Without a doubt, you need to have standards for any given meeting, but setting those standards impossibly high leads to these types of comments:

-There was nothing there

-They didn’t get us

-They weren’t the perfect client

-It was only a project

As to the first three, all are possible, but more often than not in a first meeting, you don’t know any of these things with certainty yet. And as to the fourth, project work continues to increase, make sure you don’t turn that opportunity down without some level of exploration.

2. Once they’re in the meeting, they don’t listen, and tend to do most of the talking: From past surveys, 73% of marketers say agencies talk too much about themselves in the first meeting.

3. Even when they don’t do all the talking, the questions they ask aren’t informed: For example, asking anything that can easily be found via a Google, LinkedIn, or site search.

Make your questions count-it’s too easy today to find one or two nuggets of value through a simple online search.

4. They create a few pieces of content, send out a few emails or make a few calls, and then decide it’s not working. Or have one meeting that didn’t go their way and think “I’m not cut out to do this.”

That may be true, in which case you shouldn’t be the one handling that activity, but because agency personnel don’t typically have the new business chromosome (and may not ever-that’s OK), they are far too hard on themselves.

#4 is key-you absolutely must manage your expectations in those first meetings.  Sure, there will be first meetings that truly aren’t the right fit, for a number of reasons, but don’t sabotage them with a flawed mindset before they even occur.

Author: Lee McKnight Jr

I’m the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.