Savage counsel – securing new business
Each week in Encore, STW’s Chris Savage answers your agency and career questions. This week he talks about the recipe for securing new business.
I am in charge of new business at a major integrated agency in Melbourne and have been in the role almost a year. Our hit rate with prospects has been pretty good, but given there seems less opportunity around, I am really anxious to ensure we win more of what we go after. In your experience, what are clients most looking for when they are reviewing agencies?
You are in a great role. I’d love to be able to spend all my time feeding the pipeline and driving the sales process. Fact is, there’s nothing sweeter in our business than the taste of a new client win.
Winning new clients validates who your firm is and what you offer. It lifts heads. It inspires and creates momentum. Remember, clients are making up their minds about who to hire from the moment they contact your firm. It’s like (my distant memory of) meeting a girl in a bar. You’re both immediately making up your mind about whether there is potential. With new business prospects, it’s vital to hit the right buttons at every meeting and on every contact. There are some vital ingredients to winning new clients that need to be ‘seeded in’ at every opportunity during the process. Here are the three most important criteria clients are looking for in hiring a professional services firm.
Prospects want total reassurance about:
1. The proven results you have achieved for others
Have you successfully done for others things that are similar to what they want you to do for them? Have you delivered valuable results for other companies they know of and admire? Sprinkle your conversations with examples such as: “This reminds me of the challenge company X had” or “that time where our idea helped drive sales by Y”.
2. The smartness of your ideas and creativity
Clients are addicted to ideas. Give them lots at every opportunity no matter how small or big. Show that you are an ideas engine. Whether you are an architect, real estate salesman, accountant, PR executive, digital influence guru or merchant banker.
When a client says “we did not hire you because there was no cultural fit”, what they mean is “we did not like you”. People do business with people they like. Work on the personal connections from the very start.
These are the three most critical criteria clients will use to select a new agency. Build reassurance at every step and you’ll turbo the chances of receiving that thrilling “congratulations – you’ve won” phone call.
Chris Savage is the chief operating officer of STW Group. His blog, Wrestling Possums with Chris Savage, can be found at chrisjohnsavage.com
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