Wrapping up the New Business Meeting – Ideas from Harvard Business Review

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Harvard Business Review recently published this article: Don’t End a Meeting Without Doing These Three Things.

These “three things” at the bullet-point level are:

  • Confirm key decisions and next steps
  • Develop communication points
  • Gather session feedback

Considering this article through the lens of agency new business, each recommendation is relevant.  Still the context needs to be modified to get the most out of the meeting that has just concluded AND IMPORTANTLY, for the one that will follow*.

Confirm key decisions and next steps:

This should be a step that happens just out of common sense and habit.  Still, I’ve witnessed agencies begin to wrap up a meeting without getting buy-in on the next step.

Whether that is actually getting the “deal” or scheduling the next meeting and establishing its purpose, agreement to a next step enables progress.

Develop communication points:

The HBR article presents this step in relation to meetings that are more internal, rather than a business development meeting with an external prospective prospect.  Still, it applies.

Recognizing that initial meetings with a prospective client generally are part of the vetting process, those meeting with your firm are likely to be taking a recommendation back to others on their team.

Help your prospect sell your firm.

  • Consider how you will enable the prospect to communicate to their team the unique advantages your firm has to offer.
  • What talking points will you give them?
  • What materials can you leave with them to help support your case?

Gather session feedback:

At least a couple dimensions apply to this recommendation when it comes to agency new business.

Certainly, ensure your team has time to debrief internally following each new business meeting.  This helps make certain nothing the prospect said was overlooked.  Use post-meeting debriefs for self-assessment as well.  After each meeting, discuss what needs to be improved and what went well.

Every meeting should be better than the one that preceded it.  Plan the next one with your critique in mind.

Additionally, ask the prospect for feedback.  Understood, this can be tough.

Still, ask.  Many prospects will appreciate the fact that you desire their input; it exhibits your interest and desire to support their needs.

The agency new business process is exactly that: a process.  Be every bit as strategic about it as you would be for a client’s new product introduction or media campaign.  Look well beyond the first step – the first meeting.

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Getting to the ultimate destination – winning the business – takes intentional planning along the entire way.

Be sure your meetings are working their hardest for you from preparation to follow-up.

*Related material:

Post: What’s the Purpose of the First Meeting?

Post: Closing Agency New Business:  Easier than Finding a Pot of Gold



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.