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News & Views from Alchemis

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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or email Amanda Francis


Alchemis new business quiz – what have we learned?

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who opened their personalised URL (PURL) and answered some or all of the questions in our new business quiz. We hope you found it interesting and insightful.

For Alchemis, the purpose was twofold. We wanted to contact our core target audience of marketing agencies in what we hope was an interesting and different manner, but we also wanted to provide some insight into the new business process while gauging the depth of understanding of business development nuances and best practice against our 25 years of experience.

To date 410 people have opened their PURL of which 63 revisited the quiz more than once and in some cases, several times. Not all respondents answered all of the questions, but we analysed the answers provided to see if there are common misconceptions within the new business process.

Across most questions the answers were mixed, but in the main, the most common response matched our understanding and experience. However, a surprising number of respondents provided a conflicting answer, mainly surrounding the questions concerned with the time and effort required to develop cold new business, but you can benchmark your current activities against these figures and if they don’t match up, you may need to review your current practices.

Facts and figures:

  • 75% rightly say the purpose of the initial meeting is to secure a second. This isn’t just our opinion; this is based on post meeting feedback directly from prospects. 17% thought that it was to present their credentials
  • Although the majority of 71% appreciated that B2B buyers need a phone call or a meeting prior to purchase, a worrying 29% thought that 50% or less of these decision makers don’t need personal contact
  • 73% thought that you should expect between 3 and 5 opportunities from 10 meetings, which matches our experience
  • 80% agreed with us that you’ve only got 10-15 seconds on a phone call to make an impact, which is why we spend a lot of time pre calling working on developing the right introduction
  • A worrying 39% thought that you need between 10-30 pages in their PowerPoint presentation in the first meeting which is not the feedback we have from prospective clients
  • 92% agreed that a phone call makes a prospect feel more valued (although we also know that a lot of agencies still send out mailers/emailers with no follow up and wait for the phone to ring)
  • Interestingly, the majority of respondents (58%) didn’t get the right answer about how many calls you need to make to secure 2-3 quality new business appointments per month. It’s 320 by the way.

If you would like to view the detail and see how you compared, the results for each question are highlighted below.

Question 1: When looking to secure a new business meeting with a key decision maker, which factor do you think was shown to be most important?

Question 1 results

Answer: Knowledge, sales skills and rapport of the caller

It is not a surprise to get a fairly even spread across these as they are obviously all important and the most effective new business campaigns will be able to demonstrate all 3 key traits

I hope that those who clicked all the way through to the blog covering this subject found the White Paper to be of interest. If you didn’t click through from the quiz, but would like to read more on why prospects meet with agencies, here’s the link.

Question 2: In 2011, what percentage of B2B buyers would you say required a call or a meeting prior to purchase?

Question 2 results

Answer: 70%

A bit of a loaded question granted, which the majority got correct, but it is interesting that 29% still feel that 50% or less of B2B buyers don’t need personal contact. To be fair, that may be the case in a number of industries selling different products or services, but we know that in the marketing agency world, personal contact is a key element for generating new business.

Here is a link to a previous White Paper which highlights a number of statistics within B2B lead generation.

Question 3: How many short-term business opportunities would you expect to get from 10 meetings?

Question 3 results

Answer: You should expect three to four

This is important for us in managing client expectations. We were slightly surprised at the 27% of you who thought that only 1 opportunity should arise from 10 meetings. From our experience, this is a little pessimistic, but may well be a sign of the current economic climate. Business is hard to find, but if your opportunity to meeting ratio is that low, then you may need to question who and how those leads are being generated and the quality of those leads. Also, be self-critical. Who is going on the meetings and are they going as well as they could do? These are all elements Alchemis can help with as part of our coaching programme.

Those who thought that 5 opportunities should arise from 10 meetings correct aren’t far wrong and these things do change depending on numerous factors, but this figure is optimistic. We are only referring here to ‘cold’ meetings. Those that are incoming are obviously slightly warmer and should generate a higher level of meeting to opportunity ratio.

Question 4: On average, how many calls do you think it takes to contact 10 decision makers?

Question 4 results

Answer: 70-80

There was a fairly even split between the 3 options for this question, but access to decision makers is tough, particularly in this climate, even with our extensive and up to date database and direct dial numbers. 70-80 is an average, but up to 100 is not uncommon.

21% thought it would only take 20-30 calls, which would on the one hand, would be great for Alchemis, although would potentially negate the requirement for a new business agency if it was that straight forward. Again, it is worth noting that we are purely referring to initial conversations.

Question 5: For a first meeting, what do you think is the ideal number of pages in your PowerPoint presentation?

Question 5 results

Answer: None

It is good to see that 61% of respondents are no fans of the PowerPoint presentation. It does have a place, but only when you know enough about that prospect to make ALL the pages directly relevant to them and their needs, which is impossible at an initial meeting. 38% of respondents clearly still utilise PowerPoint as a tool for first meetings, and if you are one of these, we recommend that you keep the number of slides to a minimum. We would also urge you to keep your laptop/iPad under wraps and really engage the prospect in conversation in that first meeting. Feel free to call us if you would like to discuss this point further or visit our blog for top tips on first meetings.

Question 6: On a first phone call, how long do you think you have to get the respondents attention?

Question 6 results

Answer: 10-15 seconds

80% got this right, which is encouraging, but saying and doing are two different things. Pinning down a sharp, concise introduction to your agency is key in getting into meaningful conversations with decision makers. Usually, there are one or two sound bites that grab attention, so be flexible as well and try a few until you start regularly getting into good conversations. If 70-80 calls are required to speak to just 10 prospects, you want to make sure you have a productive conversation with a high proportion of them.

Question 7: What do you think is the purpose of a first meeting?

Question 7 results

Answer: You should be focused on getting a second meeting.

75% of agencies appear to have the right approach to this. Great if you can walk into a cold meeting and win business. It does happen, but is not much more common than Halle’s comet. It is really important to secure that second meeting to take discussions further now that you know what it is that they may be looking for and how you can potentially help them solve their current issues.

Question 8: According to a SCi Report, what marketing technique do you think was perceived by 81% of B2B buyers to make them feel most valued?

Question 8 results

Answer: face-to-face meetings and phone calls

Almost all respondents got this right, which we expected due to the nature of our business! The facts are simple – the more opportunities you get to build a relationship and rapport with a prospect, the more likely they are to include you in any briefs or future activity.

Question 9: How many calls do you think you would need to make to secure 2-3 quality new business appointments per month?

Question 9 results

Answer: 320

Interestingly, this is the only question where the majority got the answer wrong. This is up there with the question on the calls to conversations ratio and we hope serves to show just how time consuming it is to do new business effectively. With these sort of returns, you do need to have someone either internally or externally dedicated to trawling companies and prospects to find a potential match for your services.

We hope you found the quiz and results interesting. If you do have any comments on the PURL or the quiz concept, please do let us know.

If, on the back of this, you would like an initial consultation on your current business development activity or plans, please give us a call.

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