The art of conversation is becoming underrated in new business today – which is great news for some of you who still value it.
I often sing this song in my head before a sales meeting. It reminds me I need to see it their way first. Then and only then perhaps we can work it out.
You should find yourself saying ‘we can work it out, can’t we?” a lot in new business. They have a problem after all, right? If it was easy to solve they’d have solved it already with their current agency maybe or internally.
So to see the problem their way – you need to ask questions. I think must people in new business get that. Problem is you all sound the same asking the same old questions. Good questions get to the heart of the problem not skirt around it.
Let’s deal with it head on – they are trying to find an agency that wasn’t like the last one. Agreed? Isn’t that what they are trying to do? Bring it up I say. Bring it up early. You’ve just bought some credibility I think. You just said I now what you have to do. I understand your role.
And how are they going to do this search?
Well, chances are they will do some combination of RFI, RFP, chemistry / tissue meetings, creds meetings and pitches? Agreed? That’s what it looks like to me anyway. But isn’t this how they choose their last agency, give or take? The one that’s now defunct. The one that they are giving the old heave ho to. The elbowed one? The one they sent the Dear John letter to citing a break down in the relationship? Not that one surely? I’d bring that up if I was in your shoes Mister New Business person.
Isn’t it a part of your role to stop marketers making mistakes that are career limiting? Do it sincerely and not like you are trying to get your rocks off by showing them up. But by asking if it makes sense to them? Or why wouldn’t the same mistakes happen again?
“Considering you most likely used these methods to pick an agency last time what makes you think it we will work out better this time?”
Isn’t that better than asking – how many people are you giving the RFI to or how many are pitching? Suppose the answer you get are too high you know 6 or 7 etc – then you’re out right? How about staying in the game and saying the whole process is questionable?
Let’s go further – How about asking “When I find myself in this situation where I am considering pitching I always remind myself of that last time I did and remember that the marketer I am talking to usually has a favourite agency he’d like to appoint but is forced to pitch by procurement to gauge market prices – is that what is happening here?”…”What stops you just appointing your favourite agency based on their previous work, how they understand you and of course chemistry?”
At some stage they’ll tell you it is process that makes them behave this way. But if we have already shown the process is at best fallible and at its worse the road to insanity. “And what happens if you end up here again in less than two years or will you be gone by then?”
However, maybe, just maybe, we can work it out? Life is very short for fussing and fighting my friends. No need to fight but lets at least be straight with each other.