With all the excitement over an American programme about a renegade chemistry teacher in the ether, I thought I’d go along with the hype and write a blog on Breaking Bad Habits in New Business.
Here are 5 of them; feel free to add your own!
1. Over promising and under delivering.
I can’t tell you how many times I meet agency owners who have been badly let down by new business agencies in the past and who are now reluctant to try the process again, albeit in the hands of professionals. One of the main reasons cited for this is the above – they were told they would win loads of new clients very quickly and obviously didn’t. New business is a process and it takes time to develop, especially if you are approaching prospects who don’t know you. Be very wary of over promising your agency in terms of what you can deliver, for how much, by when and the expected outcomes of your work. Prospects are far more sophisticated nowadays and can see through this b/s from a mile away.
2. Failure to uncover genuine marketing or commercial needs prior to telling them what you can do.
It’s a well used phrase but one that people who attend a first meeting with a new prospect often still ignore – you have two ears and one mouth, so use them accordingly. I have bleated on about this so many times but I still constantly come across agencies who insist on running through a 47 page PowerPoint presentation in these first meetings. Take a second to see what happens to the prospect’s face when you pull out the dreaded laptop. Here’s a link to my blog on how to ask questions in new business meetings.
3. Failure to prepare.
You might as well not bother going on a meeting if you haven’t put in the groundwork – and I don’t just mean having a cursory look at their website to see what the company does and maybe a quick look at their LinkedIn profile to see where the person you’re meeting used to work. I mean proper research to identify some meaningful insights into their marketplace or their competition and subsequent observations or opinions. Preparing in the back of a taxi on the way to a meeting is not good enough!
4. Failing to follow up good leads.
It takes a lot of hard work and a great deal of time to set up a good lead/meeting in the first instance so why let it go to waste if there is no immediate brief or opportunity. One of the most robust statistics in the world of new business is that:
- 1in 3 of meetings attended should generate a short-term opportunity
- 1 in 3 should deliver an opportunity in the medium term and therefore require a strong nurturing strategy
- 1 in 3 will go nowhere, for a variety of reasons, most of which are impossible to predict at the outset
A lot of people tend to focus on the first outcome and unfortunately, despite good intentions, tend to allow the slow burns to drift away through a combination of trying to deliver to current clients and not being able to get hold of them. We recommend to our clients that they pass back the medium-term opportunities to us so that we can nurture these prospects. It is our day job after all and we’re much more likely to be consistent at calling people at the right time and therefore getting hold of them. We are also skilled at finding reasons to talk to prospects rather than just making the “Hi, just keeping in touch” calls.
We would also suggest that we follow up the third outcome as well. It’s unlikely that the prospect will say in the meeting that they don’t want to work with you, or that they’re leaving, but no-one else knows yet – in other words, let us find out why the relationship won’t go anywhere, there could be an opportunity at another company if the decision maker is changing jobs, for example.
Never let any good quality contacts go to waste!!
5. Failing to know when to stop!
It’s just as easy to talk yourself out of sale as it is to talk yourself into one. When your prospects starts nodding, take it as a buying signal and talk about the next steps. You can always find out at the end of the conversation is you’ve missed anything out or if they’d like to know a bit more, or send them some extra information. What you can’t do is close them once they’ve lost interest and have zoned out. Here’s one I wrote earlier.