There are a couple of frequently used adages that anyone in the commercial world will be familiar with:
Time is money.
You have to speculate to accumulate.
Both are proved true time and again. However, linking both together would form what I like to call “The New Business Paradox.” (Note to self – register that slogan as a Trademark).
Obviously you have to invest time into running a new business campaign. Time is precious for most, if not all, businesses. So when you speak to a prospect that wants to meet, you should say yes shouldn’t you? That’s the speculate to accumulate bit. Well, not always.
As a lead generation agency running business development campaigns for clients across all marketing disciplines for the past three and a half decades, it’s important to know when to turn a meeting down as much as when to push for one.
It may or may not surprise you, but the cost of actually going on a new business meeting is usually very high. That’s because (on average) an Account Manager would likely have had to make 80 or so highly targeted calls in order to have meaningful conversations with 10 or so decision makers in order to (maybe) get 1 meeting from those conversations. Once that meeting has been arranged, the person going onto the meeting is likely to spend time doing a bit of homework about the company they are seeing. Then there is the cost of travelling to the meeting – your agency might be based in Bournemouth for example, but the company you are meeting could be in Birmingham. And on top of the actual cost of travel there is the opportunity cost of being out of the office to consider. What else could you be doing in that time?
So how do you balance “time is money” with “speculate to accumulate?”
The most obvious answer is to adhere to a strict set of quality criteria, such as:
Is the meeting with a true decision maker who has the authority to spend approved budgets?
Is the meeting within the agreed criteria of size, spend, location, market sector, profile, etc agreed between Alchemis and the client?
Has the Account Manager probed the prospect sufficiently about the challenges and issues they face, leading to the key question – is there a purpose for the meeting?
Now, any business will reward its sales team based on hitting targets. So, you may think that the temptation would be there for the Account Manager to set a meeting regardless of the above points. However, if the Account Manager’s bonus is solely dependent on their client agreeing that these quality criteria have been achieved (which will only be after the client has been on the meeting) then you mitigate the risk of them setting a meeting “just because they could.”
There’s often a fine line separating a potential new business opportunity (whether short term or long term) from a meeting that is ultimately going to be a waste of everyone’s time and money. Truly experienced Account Managers will have the ability to ask the right in-depth questions to separate the wheat from the chaff.