Harsh words to hear but true. When you’ve been invited to talk to a prospect, there is only one reason why. They are interested in what you can do for them not what kind of agency you are or how you’ve achieved success in the past or why you exist in the universe. The brag fest that most agencies launch into when meeting a prospective client only keeps them waiting, distracted, uncertain why she or he should hire you. Talking about yourself steals the time you need to make a winning case for your agency. That is why it’s not about you. It’s what you can do for me.
So, what should you cover when you have an opportunity to introduce your agency to a new prospect? Data tells us that the prospect has already been to your website, reviewed the content you’ve posted, even looked at some preliminary propaganda you sent them. She has done her homework and knows who you are, what you’ve done, how you position your agency and the clients you’ve helped. The brag fest is complete. The agency introductions are done. You’ve made it to a meeting because your website and content have done their job to convince the prospect that you are a legitimate contender.
Remember, you wouldn’t be there if the prospect didn’t already know about you. I’ve researched what marketers want to know about you before you have any clue they are looking. Their time is precious and won’t waste it on an unqualified meeting. Oh sure, the prospect might be coy and not let on that they know about your agency, but they do. They do because your website, content, social, collateral is all up to date and make your case convincing. If they know nothing about you, you should not be there. You are wasting your time because you have no chance of success. You are there merely to provide a lesser option to the agency they want to hire.
I worked with a smart agency owner who refused to take a meeting unless the marketer can answer a few simple questions. It is his way to determine how serious they are. How did you hear about us? What work of ours stands out to you? Why do you think my agency could be a good partner? Prospects who can’t answer any or all of his questions have no legitimate interest in your agency, and it is good to find out sooner rather than later. Some agencies don’t care because regardless of the initial interest they will jump at any chance to make a case for their agency. Think again.
Start the meeting by acknowledging the importance of their time and the fact that they have been through all your agency propaganda. You might say something like; in the interest of time we want to talk about you and what we can do for you, but if you have any questions about us or the material we sent, we will be happy to discuss at the end. Chances are there will be no time left at the end because you want to use every minute to make your case. However, if it is critical to them to ask questions about your agency fundamentals, they will make extra time after your presentation is over. If they do, the past hour was not convincing.
You’ve now freed up the maximum time available to show them how the things you know about them, their industry, their competition, their consumer, can uniquely solve their toughest challenges, create more of whatever they need, and make them the hero of their organization. You have entered the room presumed by them to be qualified, respected, and a legitimate choice. Now’s the time to think big, shoot for the starts, show them what is possible when no restraints are in place. Demonstrate how you think, how you turn that thinking into creative, and how you pull that creative through all the right channels to their audiences in an engaging and convincing story from beginning to end.
When you do, be sure to link your ideas back to your past work, experiences, and successes. Doing so gives your ideas credibility and builds trust for your agency. Beyond the work, the experience, and the people; trust and credibility are the top factors that influence a marketer’s choice. It also helps remind them who you are and what you’ve done to peak their interest in the first place. It helps them connect the dots between your past work and the probability of future success.
I’ve been in presentations where someone is determined to make a case against you. They’ve made up their mind for another agency and wanted to sway their colleagues. They might interrupt a key insight or stop the momentum in mid-sentence to ask something inane about your website, or a previous client, or anything to derail your perfect performance. Don’t fall for it. Even though you opened the meeting with an invitation to ask questions at any time, you know this question will add nothing to your story. Take back control. Compliment them on a great question and promise to circle back at the end – the end that will never come – not allowing him or her to make their case against you.
I try to allow 5 minutes for people introductions, 50 minutes for what the agency can do for you, and then 5 minutes for any clarification. That’s how to maximize the hour compared to a typical 15 – 20 minutes all about you, 25 - 30 minutes about the prospect, and 15 minutes for questions, as they requested. You may get an agenda from them with timing. Ignore it. You have satisfied all of the required information either in your previously submitted materials or your presentation. Just be sure to set expectations at the start about what information has been covered by your materials and what will be covered in your presentation.
It is always hard to be sure that the prospect already knows your agency well enough to consider hiring it even though you haven’t yet said a word. Remember, prospects get about 60% through their journey before you hear from them. That time was spent getting to know you and developing the belief that you could be their next agency partner. If you have done an excellent job with the materials and content they encounter during that initial 60% of the journey, you can be confident in what they think; otherwise, you wouldn’t be invited to present. To be absolutely certain, leave a customized agency capability book, pdf, or whatever behind to refresh their memory. Now knock it out of the park!
I want to help you make the most out of your new business pitch. I’m always open to a conversation regardless of your needs. If you like this post, click the thumbs up, so I’ll know and then sign up for my new business newsletter. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily tips, tricks, and insights. #LetsGrow!