A client will never hire an ad agency. A client will always hire someone, whom they trust, who happens to work at an ad agency.

visit good prospects

Tough prospects are slow to trust people.

The agency comes along with the person they want to work with. They hire someone they with whom they have a relationship, someone they like and trust. Becoming known is fairly easy. Being liked is not that difficult, for most agency types. Building trust is the hard part.

Most ad types try to “close the deal” before trust is established. Patience and follow though are required. Below are a few “DOs” and “DON’Ts” on proven ways to enhance the relationship and build trust with a hot prospect.

Visiting A New Business Prospect:

DON’T: Make a pitch under any circumstance. This is not the time for pitches. Never show your capabilities presentation: it ends the conversation. (Besides, what could you possibly say about your agency that hasn’t already been said by countless other agencies, ad nauseam?)

DO: Be knowledgeable of two or three meaningful business issues that affect brands like this one, in this industry. Ask your prospect not only how the issue affects his company’s strategy, operations and finances, but how it affects him personally.

DON’T: Jump at the first opportunity to say some form of, “Oh, we can do that; we’re really good at that.” Take the first step – start by listening.

DO: Help your prospect think through the business challenge, look at things in a fresh way, and recognize nuances or other aspects of the issue.

DON’T: Act like you’re the expert in all aspects of marketing. If they express an interest in a new website don’t jump into a long word avalanche on all the great websites you’ve built. This stops the discussion, harms trust, and makes you look small.

DO: Make the meeting itself valuable. Knowing how good you are at what you do is only marginally valuable. Initiate a sustainable business conversation that highlights the issues and the pain in which they are dealing. There is no need for the prospect to hire a new agency if there is no pain. Make them feel the pain.

DON’T: Claim to be able to solve any problem, make it seem easy, or talk about how great the work will be (once they become a client and start writing checks, of course). This is called discounting, and you’ll only end up making the problem seem easy. Not worth all the trouble of hiring someone to solve it.

DO: Be the doctor. Help the prospect understand all the nuances that go into solving their problem. Probe for the desired outcome, and the perceived barriers to getting there. Doctors never heal right out of the gate. Like any good diagnostician, do explore the issue fully before recommending any next steps or test that may be needed.

DON’T: Ask for anything that could involve a “no,” Avoid: “Would you like to see some of our initial thinking on this?” ”Could I give you some suggestions on what we would recommend?” After you have found the needs and fever, timing and budget, depart. Many accounts have been lost by hanging around too long.

DO: Set up a reason to call back. The reason is your concern that the prospect’s timing is difficult and the money is limited. Based on these two problems you will go back to your agency, brainstorm these “difficult” problems if you can, and call the prospect back (“good news call”).

DON’T: Let any follow up after the meeting drag on and on. And never send a brochure or some other gratuitous fluff after a meeting. What is that supposed to accomplish? If you’ve done everything above, you already have a specific need under discussion, a future agenda, and some idea for next steps. Why trade down to a generalized “look how smart we are?

DO: Send a clear client “quick response” conference report. One that highlights the issues, and reinforces the pain. It must highlight that you were listening, and you understand the problem. And it really helps if you can adopt some of the prospects point of view.

DON’T: Let too much time pass after the meeting. Too many agencies will wait weeks before getting back to the prospect with an idea or an approach to helping them. Or worse, with a proposal. Proposals are for losers.

DO: Return within 48 hours with your ideas put down on process sheets (use 15 sheets at least). Build in the magic with word pictures.

80% of New Business Failure Revolves Around Trust.

Your agency should focus its new business energy on setting up quiet visits (interviews) where prospects can discuss their business problems and opportunities openly and honestly. This is because your agency understands how to build trust and isn’t pushing to show credentials. This is not a new process but an old way of doing business. It’s what built the advertising industry.

It’s very important to use the quiet visit to close the account quickly and efficiently– even before your competition knows the account is loose. The fast-close process doesn’t work every time but it does work most of the time. And the process is a lot easier than producing a written proposal and having that sit on someone’s desk for several weeks. The fast-close process is compelling and encourages a prospect to take action. Clients appreciate initiative and they reward it by giving you the business.



Photo by alireza1