Kristian Gough of new business agency Incite gives his views on the commonly used metric of meetings…
External and internal agency new business specialists are often measured on meetings as a KPI of success. The question is, is this fair? Does it work? And what are the alternatives?
It’s easy to see why appointments are prized in the world of agency new business. On the way to converting a prospect to a client there is almost always a meeting, right? So it’s easy to join the dots and come up with ‘meetings = new business’ logic – and by this very logic, the more meetings there are, the more new business is won.
As both an in-house agency business development director and new business consultant, I’ve often seen this when the management team are setting revenue targets.
“We had 10 meetings in the last 6 months. These converted to 5 pitches and 2 new clients worth X, so if we set 30 meetings in 6 months, we’ll win 6 new clients worth Y.”
It’s simple and logical…and flawed.
Meetings set from cold don’t usually result in a pitch, proposal or project straight away and even over the long term only do so in very small numbers, while meetings that come in organically often do convert to something actionable straight away. This is because the prospect has been recommended to contact an agency or found one via their own, usually online research. They are then often quite a way down the sales funnel before they contact you and invite you in for a meeting. They are closer to buying, more qualified and have already selected an agency as a ‘possible’.
Conversely a meeting from ‘cold’ set by a new business person or a new business agency, targeted on meetings is different. They are usually set up as an exploratory meeting using various techniques to get a prospect to agree to put a date in the diary for a creds meeting. The aim of the meeting in the prospects eyes is education not longlisting or shortlisting. Their motivation is to look at a portfolio for any possible future (not current) opportunities. Or perhaps with the promise (the fabled ‘hook’) of some research or insight into their own audience or category, or even a new funky digital tool or technique.
Based on experience of working for hundreds of agencies over the last 20 years, 95% of the time +, in the short to mid-term, these meetings do not go anywhere. Of course if you do enough of them and then diligently stay in touch, who knows? But let’s face it, all but the most professionalised and heavily resourced new business programs do this. And even then it’s a very, very expensive and inefficient way of doing agency new business.
So then, if you aren’t measuring or targeting meetings then what should you be measuring and targeting?
At my new business agency incite we focus on two metrics. Revenue opportunities and relationships. Because our tech and techniques are a lot broader than the phone, appointment, handover to client model, we are able to build relationships based on thought leadership positioning, nurture using a combination of though leadership content and events, automated marketing programs and then actually identify when prospects are in buying cycle – so our client close rates are much closer to those of organic new business generated by client research, recommendation and referral.
This is means a meeting is not and should not be classed as a revenue opportunity but simply the start of a long relationship. Today a lot of this earlier part of the sales process can be done digitally and automated meaning you can build hundreds of connections and nurture them and often even avoid pitching altogether – but that’s another blog altogether.
About the author
Kristian Gough founded Incite in 2003 after working in a variety of London agencies, running new both new business functions and high profile accounts such as P&G, Heinz and Sage. He saw a gap for a more sophisticated and commercially astute new business agency. One that could deliver genuine revenue opportunities, not creds meetings – and although the methods to achieve this have evolved and changed in the last 13 years, the objective and vision of the business has not. As a result incite is one of the most succesfull new business agencies in the UKKristian Gough founded incite in 2003 after working in a variety of London agencies, running new both new business functions and high profile accounts such as P&G, Heinz and Sage. He saw a gap for a more sophisticated and commercially astute new business agency. One that could deliver genuine revenue opportunities, not creds meetings – and although the methods to achieve this have evolved and changed in the last 13 years, the objective and vision of the business has not. As a result incite is one of the most succesfull new business agencies in the UK
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