This article, Listen More, Talk Less: Directing Traffic In a Prospect Meeting, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.
We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!
This post is from RSW New Business Director, Liz Lindley.
Something I’ve noticed over my nearly 7 years as a New Business Manager at RSW/US, is that few agency principals instinctively know how to navigate the second hurdle to winning new business:
The introductory prospect meeting
In fact, some of them fail miserably at it!
While mastering the introductory meeting isn’t rocket science, many agency principals fall into the same trap.
Here is the scenario you may find yourself in as an agency principal:
You have championed the first hurdle – scheduling a meeting with your dream client – and you’re excited about the possibility of working together. You enter the introductory meeting excited to share your industry experience, hundreds of slides, case studies, client stories and capabilities. You share your story and it’s a good one! You know you did a fantastic job presenting your agency’s capabilities in the best light. So, why didn’t the relationship move forward to a second meeting and ultimately a win?
Most failures are caused by one simple reason:
You talked too much about YOU.
That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with you and your agency.
The reason the prospect didn’t walk away from the introduction with an understanding of your value is because you didn’t listen to their challenges or understand their priorities.
Without these insights, you are not capable of telling a relevant story based on the marketers’ needs only your assumptions and accolades.
New resources take a lot to onboard, and competition is fierce.
Agencies must show they are playing at a much higher level to be invited to the table, and it starts with how you manage the first meeting.
Let your competitors fire up their slide decks and use up all their time listing their capabilities and case studies that may not apply, while you follow a simple agenda and land a second meeting.
Your Simple Prospect Meeting Agenda
- A little about yourself
- A lot about the prospect
- Next time, include client stories, work samples and fresh thinking
By asking smart questions and doing a little research before the call, your prospect will walk away with the mindset: I like them. They’re smart, understand my business and I want to learn more.
Many agency principals believe that the introductory meeting will be their “one chance to tell prospects how great we are.”
This fear keeps them from planning ahead.
Your goal in the first meeting should be to schedule a second meeting because every touchpoint builds on the previous one.
This strategic, multi-touch follow-up strengthens the relationship.
If you dump everything into their lap at one time during the initial call, it’s tough for prospects to distinguish your value and continue the conversation.
And frankly, that approach is assumptive and boring. (Cue the glassy-eyed marketer)
A Little About Yourself
During the first 5 minutes, share the agenda, a quick personal intro and state WHY the meeting is happening.
Share your strongest differentiator.
What’s your superpower?
Prospects want to walk away with a better understanding of your value, not only what you do.
The biggest pain point for prospects is when an agency cannot articulate their USP.
A Lot About The Prospect
Prior to the meeting: write down questions, research the company and industry.
During the meeting: take notes, show off that you did your homework while avoiding the machine gun approach of asking questions by using phrases like: ‘tell me’, ‘explain’, ‘can you help me understand’, ‘fill me in’, and pull from your client experience.
- One of the challenges we helped (CLIENT NAME) overcome was X, how has this affected you?
- I read about your recent acquisition, enabling you to enter new markets, how does that affect your plans?
- Although everything we do is customized, CLIENT NAME had an issue with X and our approach included ABC. It proved to be highly effective. What role does ABC play in your strategy?
- What has worked and what hasn’t?
- What do the regional managers say they need from you?
- What is your vision for this new initiative?
Next time client stories, work samples and fresh thinking.
Wrap up the call by suggesting getting together in the next couple of weeks. Have your calendar ready!
John, thanks for your time, really appreciate your insights and comments, I certainly understand (RESTATE CHALLENGE(s)) and would like to share our expertise and how we can perhaps help you. Why don’t we get together again in few weeks to dive a little deeper and talk additional insights from our work, especially a campaign we developed for CLIENT X. Possibly you would like to include some of your team from channel marketing. – I have my calendar, is the second week of May good? “
That second step is where the magic happens.
Listening is key.
Not only to hear what marketers are saying but to enhance your ability to understand their situation and communicate how your agency can help.
Ultimately, it makes the experience of meeting with you more enjoyable and a valuable use of time.
So, before you fire up the slide deck, take time to listen first.
At RSW/US, Liz Lindley partners with top-tier global and nationally-based agencies, helping them build their portfolio of clients as a New Business Director. She has been with the organization for over 7 years and has dedicated her entire career to the pursuit of new business. Aside from her professional life, Liz spends time with her family of six along with serving in several volunteer roles within her community.