Learn to Engage With Your Prospect to Win More Ad Agency New Business

Your first client meeting is like a first date: handle it well and you have a chance to get engaged
by Todd Knutson

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you finally score a meeting with a prospect who asks you to give them a credentials presentation. You arrive at their office, fire up your Mac and run through your 30-slide deck. You nail it, hitting all the key points, and even manage to tell some great client success stories. After a few minutes of Q&A they thank you for coming and you head to the elevator (high-fiving only after the doors are fully closed).

Unfortunately, this is the outcome of most first meetings - I've literally heard stories about it nearly every week for the past 9 years.

The opportunity that's been missed is this – in their haste to talk all about themselves, agency new business people forget to ask their prospect questions. These are the questions that will reveal the opportunity your agency can solve.

I liken it to dating. Let's say you're a guy and on your first date you do all the talking. You talk about golf, drinking with your friends, fraternity parties in college, and who knows what else. What are the odds that you're going to get a second date?

Then you get a date with the woman of your dreams. Luckily, one of your female friends knocks some sense into you and persuades you to ask her questions. You do it and are amazed that she wants to go out a second time.

What happened? In sales, the expression is, 'the person talking is the person buying'.

Remember, in all your new business efforts you're interacting with other people, and people like to talk about themselves.

So, at your next first meeting try these four things:

  • Keep your Mac in your bag.
  • When you enter the room, think only about engaging with your prospect (literally, "become involved"), focusing 100% of your attention on them.
  • Ask smart questions.
  • Really listen - verbally and non-verbally.

Only at the end, and only if necessary, should you present.

Alternatively, build rapport at the first meeting and save your presentation for the second meeting, once you've uncovered a business challenge or two that you may be well-positioned to solve.

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