If There’s No Work In Hand, Should We Even Take This Prospect Meeting?
30-50% of the prospect meetings we get our agency clients turn into a proposal opportunity.
I’m kicking things off with this stat, because recently I’ve had conversations with agency prospects who’ve asked about the other 50%.
It’s not a question that comes up in every prospect conversation I have, but if it doesn’t, then I like to bring it up.
That other 50% typically constitute those meetings with a longer tail.
I’m not going to tell you that every single meeting we get for a client is a home run, but part of the reason our business development programs are set up the way they are is so our new business directors can help nurture that other 50%, where it makes sense to do so.
Not every meeting will be a work-in-hand opportunity, whether it’s set by us, or if an agency is handling new business internally.
Because you simply can’t manufacture opportunities-timing truly is everything.
But, there have been several meetings we’ve gotten for clients, where opportunities became evident that weren’t when the meeting was originally set.
In those cases, we prepared our client with the prospect’s situation, the prospect was on the list we built and which was approved by our client (one of the first steps), and there was a high level of interest in what our client could bring to the table.
But, there was no immediate work in hand. That can happen and we communicate as much information as we can to our client in that regard.
Speaking generally about agencies, these types of meetings are often where they drop the ball.
Their first thought is, “well, if there’s no work in hand, should we even take this prospect meeting?”
Well, to be fair, sometimes the answer is no.
And depending on a lot of factors, you’re probably not jumping on a flight across the country at that point.
But otherwise, you must keep an open mind in these situations.
Going back to those clients I mentioned, they went into those meetings with an open mind, performed initial research, and prepared key questions, specific to the industry and work they had done.
Half an hour into these conversations, what started with no immediate work turned into several challenges that weren’t initially mentioned and that the prospect really hadn’t fully fleshed out or realized until our client tapped into the right line of questioning.
It’s not an easy thing, but there are those agency principals or new business directors, who have an innate talent for extracting insights from prospects.
They can sit down with that prospect and have the ability to ask really good questions about the prospect’s business, getting them laser-focused on the challenges they’re facing.
To be frank, a lot of you reading don’t have that talent, but you can still get the same result.
Three quick tips on how:
1) Prior to the meeting, study up your prospect and her/his company
Far too often, the only prep is to glance at the prospect’s website briefly.
You are busy, without a doubt, but as I like to say,
Google is your friend.
It’s just too easy to find out a fair amount of information in a short period of time.
2) Formulate 7-10 industry/client-focused questions before the prospect meeting.
Ideally you have some of these questions based on what you uncovered about the prospect and her/his company, but you won’t always be able to find something pertinent.
So base your questions on the challenges you help your current clients solve.
It’s a safe bet they’re going through the same things, and even if they aren’t, they’ll appreciate your overall expertise in their vertical.
3) Keep an open mind.
If you go in with a negative or circumspect mental attitude, you’ve already gone a long way toward assuring yourself a poor meeting.
Absolutely there are those meetings that never should have happened, and if that continues with great frequency, the overall process needs to be examined, but on average, if all the other boxes towards a right fit are checked and the prospect wants to meet with you, odds are good there’s a need there.