Do you even know how to answer a prospect truthfully?

hl meckenI had one of those moments last week, what you may call an ‘a-ha’ moment.

And I am still not sure if I am 100% right to be frank.

I think some people in agencies literally can’t see the God’s honest truth.  They’re so biased and clouded, they literally can’t see it, let alone or say it. They don’t know the words. Let me explain a little further my thinking –  maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe they can see it yet feel it’s inappropriate.  The truth can hurt after all. Maybe somethings are best left un-said? Maybe they just have a habit of giving the same old answers to the same old questions.

The truth – is not as obvious as it first looks.

I think that today somehow telling the simple truth has become like a revolutionary act.  It appears that it is very hard to tell.  And part of that I think is that people are unsure what it looks  or sounds like.

The importance of the truth in new business is that it will set you apart from your competitors, make them at ease with you and of course and help get more new business into your agency and stop you spending time with tyre kickers  – column C and D prospects

And do you know what? It feels good, in fact it feels great, honesty is the best policy, it is so liberating that you don’t have to go around badgering prospects with how great you are, how many awards you won… To be frank that boast laiden creds document could have been sent to them on a Powerpoint before the meeting couldn’t it, if that is your bag?

So I thought I’d give you some idea of what the truth looks like and I’m well aware it may shock a few of you.  Truth does that.

And some of that is because you can’t hear the tone or see the body language which adds to the context. Remember the golden rule – you are there to diagnose not to get an ego boost or patronise a prospect.  They were clever enough to invite you in so they can’t be half bad, can they?

Below are some typical things a prospect may ask an agency very early on.  And here is the truthful answer that will a) differentiate you b) help you qualify the prospect by getting them off the solution and them qualify you too and c) help you become consultative and not a reluctant consultant.

Q: So how do you think your agency can help us?

A: Maybe we can’t. (truth)   What is it you were hoping we could do for you? (moving off solution).  Is there a specific issues you currently face? (qualifying and beginning diagnosis)

Easy enough wasn’t it?

Q: What makes you different from the other agencies?

A: Maybe nothing. (truth) How were you hoping we’d be different? (moving off solution)  Is there something your current agency doesn’t do that you’d wish they did? (qualifying and beginning diagnosis)

Easy right.  That’s what the truth looks like give or take, you can learn that can’t you?

Most agency people would have a presentation out by now, which will prevent them from being consultative in their selling or they’re  into a five-minute discussion about their proprietary tools or way of thinking and actually making themselves sound exactly like all the others, desperate – and even just like the one they are considering firing.

The truth is you aren’t that different most of the time. Except you can differentiate your agency in the way you sell to them. Non pushy, easily understood, credible (truthful no less) and reasonable.


In fact prospects feel comfortable around people who are disarmingly truthful and so will tell you more than they will other competing agencies about their business issues, which may help you when finding a solution. Or perhaps it might lead to a project being bigger than they first anticipated because you diagnosed more issues than they considered.

The concept behind consultative selling is to get to the truth of the situation. Your first meeting with a prospect is a test drive, it shows how thorough, truthful and credible you are.  Saying you are the best undiscovered agency in London is not credible, the times I have heard that one.

You are with a prospect to find out exactly what is going on in the prospect’s business world and you should be asking yourself a few questions – Why would they change agencies?  Would I change agencies in their shoes?  What’s so bad with what they have right now?  Is it costing them too much time and money to work with their current one?  If so how much do they think – could they ball park it? Where is the evidence for a need to change?

Then once you have the prospect diagnosed as needing to change then you need to make sure the rest of their colleagues agree for the need to change to – this is all before you present the solution to them.

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