A new business win the bag – I was so proud, and couldn’t wait to share the news.

guru of growth

Stuart Sanders
Guru Of Growth

I had been following up on a good prospect, a large regional hospital in a small city near the agency where I worked. The Director of Communications agreed to see me because of our agency’s hospital expertise.

The Importance of Personality Profiling

Over the phone I did my usual personality profiling to understand her profile so I could establish good chemistry quickly. She sounded warm, friendly and definitely people oriented. She was low-assertive, meaning she was not pushy, very agreeable, and let me lead our phone calls. Those observations quickly established her as a Logo™ personality. I therefore cooled my sales jets, took a low-aggressive approach and worked over several weeks to warm her up. It’s all out of our Chemistry Wins New Business training manual.

I asked for permission to see her when it felt right. Besides, I explained, “I was passing close by,” so she agreed to see me. As I stood in front of her office located in the bowels of the hospital, I mentally checked over the Do’s and Don’ts for Logos™. I remembered don’t push. Don’t oversell. Do build chemistry by treating her first as a friend. Do establish common ground. That approach means I don’t take in a presentation or even samples because that’s too “salesy” for most Logos™.

The Importance of a Solid First-Visit Strategy

The first visit went like clockwork. It’s a tried and try approach built around Agency Baseball and something that I practiced at the agency, working to get my words down, remembering to talk it over easy, and not pushing. Now in her office it all came together as I spent 20-minutes discussing personal issues with her, including family, friends, industry contacts we both knew, college backgrounds and all type of stuff that drive Headlines™, those hard-charging profiles, crazy. It wasn’t difficult to hit common ground because her office was loaded with discussion tips in typical Logo™ fashion. And the approach works because Logos™ want to establish a personal relationship first before moving into work.

About the time I was going to bring up business, she suggested it. I moved quickly to outline our capabilities using word pictures. It was our hospital competency story, and it takes about three-minutes and includes the five things we do well, all stuff we teach in our Spark Training. It’s light and easy.

The Importance of Discovery

Then I asked moved to Discovery, a process where the agency asks questions, and acts like a medical doctor with good bed-side manners, meaning concerned, probing, checking off needs and looking for symptoms or pain where we can be of help. But not selling, just questioning like good docs do.

She opened up and laid out her marketing problems and opportunities in a very professional and orderly fashioned. I asked the Process questions and found out she was moving to fire her current agency, a shop that was having well-known leadership issues. My heart took a jump but I didn’t try the old “hire us” trial offer. I remembered my bed-side manner and her Logo™ profile.

The Right Way to Exit

The meeting ended abruptly, and too early for me, with a call from her boss that she had to take, but I stood and said my good-byes, told her I would follow up, and departed. I understood that I had accomplished just about all I could on a first visit with a Logo™ profile. Trying to close the account at that time would not have worked. And I knew rushing to ask for the order as so many “experts” suggest would have lost all I had gained.

Winning With a Conference Report

I followed up with a detailed conference report based on what she told me. And true to the process we teach in Torch Training, I stuck to the facts with no selling. And I sent it to her by overnight delivery as we suggest, never on email. She called back very impressed at how well I had listened, and said she didn’t want to go through an agency review and would like to shift her account to us. I asked her how she wanted to proceed, staying in her profile, and she suggested I send up our agency contract so her in-house attorneys could review it. Never had I won a piece of business any easier.

The Agency New Business Meeting

never brag

Rule 5. Never brag at the new business meeting.

That Tuesday, when we had the agency new business committee meeting, which is usually the most hated meeting in the agency and a big waste of time because the account staff goes around the table and tells lies about stuff that should have been done and calls they should have made, but didn’t. All well and good until my turn, and I opened my mouth and bragged about my new “win.”

The agency president and chief creative officer, Headline™ to the core, demanded to know what this Director of Communications felt about our hospital creative work. I explained that she had not really seen it because I had not taken the agency hospital presentation to her because, in my opinion, it wasn’t needed. He was incensed and announced to everyone that he would go pick up the contract with me, but only after he marched my “new account” through our creative work. He would make very sure she knew what type of agency she was hiring.

Agency DOA

You know the rest. We never got the account. The follow-up meeting began with our contract from her attorneys sitting there on her desk, breathing “pick me up.” Our president rushed to deliver his heavy-selling “we do it our way” creative review despite my suggestions on how to do it that I had given to him before we left the agency. His pushy overselling killed the win.

The sad thing is he felt he did a good job. I didn’t have the strength on the ride back to the agency, while listening to him tell me how well we had done, to speak the truth. We had just lost the easiest account we had ever won.

Five Important Ad Agency New Business Prospecting Take-Aways

  1. Personality profiling really improves your batting averages.
  2. Having a solid first visit approach always works.
  3. A conference report follow-up is often your best closing device because among other things it proves you listened to the prospect.
  4. Over-selling hurts your chances despite all the “ask for the order” junk floating around.
  5. Never brag at agency new business meetings.

Free Offer

If your agency wants to learn more details on some of these techniques discussed here, call Sanders Consulting Group (412.897.9329) or email [email protected] for a free, no-obligation discussion on new business, tips on your process, and perhaps some advice.


Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net.