5 Steps to Prepare for Your Agency’s Next First Meeting with a Prospect

90% of ad agency principals say, "Get me in front of a potential client and I’ll close the business"
by Todd Knutson

Most of the time, this is both the wrong objective and not the outcome.

I remember a client from a successful regional agency. They had outstanding creative, long-term client relationships, and commitment from the top to become a top-tier firm on a national scale. Their chairman was a wonderful guy; he made this claim.

This agency did their homework, targeted appropriate prospective clients, and on the strength of their creative secured 14 meetings with the CMOs of well-known companies.

The agency chairman went to every initial meeting, sometimes alone and sometimes with an account executive or creative director. Their formula was the same: Show up, present their credentials, and leave thinking they'd won the business. They went 0-14, and are now out of business.

Unfortunately, their objective for the first meeting was wrong. Instead of trying to close the business, the objective of a first meeting should be to get a second meeting.

How do you do that? You might prepare for your next first meeting using these 5 steps:

  1. What's your objective for the meeting? Yes, it's a second meeting, but where? Do you want to meet at an upcoming trade show? At your office? Identify a need and return to present a proposal? Be specific, but prepare to be flexible.
  2. How do you want to start the meeting? You can't start with a too-personal question, so what "ice-breaker" conversation might warm things up? Do you have common interests or backgrounds?
  3. Think about the meeting from your prospective client's perspective. What questions might reveal concerns that might reveal opportunities? You often don't have time to ask all your questions, so prioritize them.
  4. Think about how you want to talk about your agency - without doing a presentation. Is there specific creative you'd like to show? Why? A case study? Why?
  5. Lastly, who should attend the meeting? Who is the most engaging person on your staff - for example, who regularly learns the most about random people? Most importantly, who can secure a second meeting?

Fact: People buy from people they like, and the only way to get to that point is to build a business relationship. So, don't try to close the deal. Instead, prepare with that goal in mind.

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