It is often a brisk conversation in the heat of pitch preparation. Should the agency president be in the presentation, in the room, in it at all? According to marketing executives who hire and work with agencies, agency leadership is fourth on their list of information when considering a new firm. All the usual excuses aside, and you know what I mean, you must find a way for your president to be, well, presidential.
When considering a potential new agency, marketers have expectations that start at the top. They expect more from an agency president than overhead on their invoice or a signature on a contract. We have all scripted this before; "your success is not about me but because of the team” or “I’ve picked a great team for you so I’m going to get out of the way so you can spend time with the people that do the real work”. In fact, it’s not the right thing to say or the right thing to do. Your potential new client knows that the agency performance and outcomes start at the top. The marketer knows that the work is done by the team but the overall management of the myriad things that allow that work to happen rests with the president.
Keep in mind that marketers work in organizations where executive roles are powerful and important. They know that your president is the organizing force on everything about the agency. They are familiar and comfortable interacting with senior leadership and rely on the confidence and spirit the company president imbues. If there is no apparent leadership, their confidence may go down, and their risk assessment will go up.
Marketers want the president to be in charge, confident, and a cheerleader for the agency. They want her or him to know their business, industry, and competitors and speak authoritatively about their challenges. They want to see them engaged with the team and sense intimacy and camaraderie, not aloofness. They want to see a person who can confidently interact with their own leaders and advocate on their behalf. And they want to see a person who owns the performance and quality of work the agency is hired to do.
Most importantly, marketers want a president who has a clear vision for the future as well as a practical sense for the present. They can quickly detect if a president is thinking in the past. They expect the agency leader to facilitate tight alignment across all the agency services and all of their departments and divisions.
A marketer will have no patience for a president who is nothing more than a nicely tailored suit or displays an ego that dominates the room. If she or he is merely a meeting greeter or needs to get back to a busy schedule, the marketer may be concerned the working experience will be the same. If the impression of the president is disappointing, other agencies in the mix will gain a decisive edge and the prospect may conclude the agency is not a good fit.
Should the agency president be in the pitch? Yes and so much more! Agency leaders are a differentiator, an influential and positive factor in agency selection, and not an afterthought. If your president can engage prospects at all levels with a balance of authority, wisdom, and humility, they will make a winning impression among those seeking your services. Agency presidents can increase your odds of winning new business if they fully embrace their role as the leader.
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