These 10 tips are the broad principles of new business, which the IAS Agency fine-tunes all the time to help agencies improve their hit rates with prospects.
- Annual Plan: Make sure that there is an annual plan – without it your new business drive will be a failure. Build in key time lines, make sure that there is a proper database of prospects – and keep it up to date. Do you have a “sales kit” i.e. how good are your credentials? What is your leave behind?
- Disciplined communication and follow up: Don’t send out so many mails that you cannot then follow up within a week. Reduce the quantity. Avoid non-personalised mail – but if you do send personalised mail, make sure that the recipient’s title is correct. Don’t guess it. Don’t criticise the client’s current advertising – remember that they would have approved it previously so you will be criticising them.
- Make an intelligent guess at the prospect’s business problem. Identify a possible problem relevant to that particular industry. Relate back to something you may have read in the media about the company or its competitors. Talk about that particular problem and your possible solution in the email/letter. Follow up with a conversation.
- Don’t send unsolicited pieces. DVDs, and flash drives by mail do not work, prospects rarely look at them. Avoid expensive looking mailing pieces – might look careless to clients. Large boxes or mailers do not work to clients – no storage space.
- Avoid announcement mailings. Clients are interested in your new staff. But not in other new clients – “how will this affect my service levels?” Nor awards – unless they are effectiveness / case study based. Nor any other internal changes unless there is a direct impact on or relevance to their business.
- Don’t ambulance chase. If you are not invited onto a pitch process, avoid ‘chasing the ambulance’. Your agency will not have been left out by mistake – by the time a pitch list has been put together most marketers will have done their homework and hopefully will also have consulted a pitching intermediary!
- Keep your messages crisp. We are in a time poor world. Keep your messages short and to the point. Prospects have little time to absorb long content. Use Twitter to follow and be followed.
- Find out more before you make contact. Try and find out more about the business before you send a mailer – look for relevance. Start at the top – aim your contact at the top marketing person – they will send it down the line. The lower levels will not send up the chain. Test your pieces among friends or existing clients before you send to prospects. If a friend or existing client does not understand it, a stranger or prospective client will not.
- Work out when to follow up. Time your phone calls when the prospect will be quiet in the office – early morning, late afternoon, Fridays. Make friends with the gatekeepers. Don’t leave voice messages. Make sure your teasers or mail pieces are low cost and entertaining – avoid the throw out factor.
- Never give up. Keep modifying. Evaluate what works and what does not. Fine tune. Test before you spend. Modify. Keep going. Some prospects take two years or more to convert – smaller projects might lead to a major pitch.
These are the broad principles of new business – we fine-tune these all the time and we help agencies improve their hit rates with prospects.
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