Ad Agency New Business, First Build a Relationship

Your agency's first meeting with a prospective client should be all about them and not about you or your capabilities
by Todd Knutson

I've enjoyed reading Norm Brodsky's articles in Inc. magazine for years. He's seen and experienced just about anything you'll ever encounter, and there's a wealth of good business insight in every article and post. If you're a creative person who's perhaps less fond of the business aspects of running an agency, reading his stuff is a quick way to get a degree in management and sales.

Take the following post about the first meetings. This topic is one of my favorites because I've seen so many ad agencies blow what could be the first step towards a sizable piece of new business. Here's what Norm says:

I usually go out on the first sales call with any new sales person we hire. After we leave that first meeting, the new sales person's comment is usually, You didn't tell them what we do.

My answer is always, they know what we do. And they know we're there to make a sale. But the best way to close a sale is by building a relationship. Every time I go into somebody's office, I look at the plaques on the walls, the trophies, the memorabilia, the photographs. I always try to learn something about the person I'm meeting.

More times than not, I steer the conversation toward their hobbies, their passions, their families, and try to relate my experiences to what they like.
In our business, which is a service business, we never close on the first call anyway. But when I leave that meeting, I want them to remember that we've been there.

It's so simple. But how many of us use the excuse of the first meeting to talk all about ourselves and our companies?

Instead, why not ask your prospect questions? Get to know them? Build a relationship. After all, they know why you're there - to sell your agency's services. But they, like you, need to determine if there's chemistry.

You're probably heard this before - people buy from people they like. So stop presenting and instead try building a relationship. When you're successful, closing the deal becomes a matter of deciding when to start, which is a fun way to add new business.

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