What type of new business person are you?

Consider these three statements:

  • I’d like to go and see people who need a digital agency.
  • I’d like to go and see people who are right for us so that when they need a digital agency they call us.
  • I’d like to go and see people who have a problem and convince them that we can help them solve it (they may not be aware of the problem).

Which one applies to you?  All of them – or perhaps none.

We’ve worked with lots and lots of clients over the years (all at Icebreaker) but 4 or 5 clients stand out as the guys/girls who would win everything – we’d send them to a meeting, and sooner or later they’d get business out of that client.  The rest – yes they win, but they’re not prolific in the way that just a handful of clients have been.

So what do these guys have that the rest don’t?

Well, there are a few things – and I could go on all day about this but we don’t have space, so here’s a few…

  • First – they share a mindset.  That mindset is that all of the above is worth it.
  • But it’s more than that – they create opportunities.  They also instinctively adapt their game plan to fit where the prospect is in the buying cycle.  When the prospect says ‘I’m not looking for somebody right now’, their heart doesn’t sink and their face say “oh you mean you don’t have any money, then why am I here?”, but instead spend time learning about the client’s challenges, targets problems, etc.  If a problem or challenge that can’t be solved comes to light then great – an opportunity create, one that wasn’t there when they walked in, and a good deal of rapport and trust built.
  • You are not the only agency in the world!  Somebody told me last week that there are 17,000 agencies in the UK now!  17,000!  Imagine that?  If even 10% of them are actively doing outbound new business then it’s a very noisy room.  Telephone salespeople cannot provide nicely wrapped briefs every week.  Sorry – but the world doesn’t work that way.    These guys know that they need to get out and see people,  they know that they need to make a big impact when they do.  Not going to see people who are not immediately looking is wasting 30-50% of your new business activity.
  • Keeping in touch – In all likelihood, there will be an opp within 12 months, even if it’s a pitch against an incumbent – but if you don’t keep in touch…” now who was that agency I met last year again?  Oh never mind, that guy who called 5 minutes ago…”.  The first meeting is where you make friends, but you’ve got to keep in touch if you want them to remember you.
  • New business comes first.  Of course, it’s inevitable you will one day have to move a meeting.  Do it regularly and you are throwing away the money and effort you are making.  Outbound new business is labour intensive with low conversion rates (80 calls/day leads to 2-3 ‘warms’ and maybe one meeting).  If you cancel then you’ll demotivate your salesperson and probably lose the opportunity.
  • Accept some failures.  It’s a cost of doing new business – 30% % of meetings will lead nowhere.  If you don’t handle them correctly, 70% will!  It’s a fact.  This was the case during the .com boom, during the mid-90s, during the late 80s (although that’s second hand), it’s a fact today – for mobile agencies in a rapidly growing market, for digital agencies, for design agencies.

So – my observations.  You might disagree, maybe you agree, but that’s my thoughts…comments welcome as always!

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