An article from Lisa Colantuono, co-president of AAR Partners on what wins new business – it’s all about consistent communication, diligence, passion and a culture engrained in a team that truly cares about its prospective clients’ needs
This article is by Lisa Colantuono, co-president of AAR Partners.
The backbone of professional business is the ongoing acquisition of new clients, customers or accounts. Many organizations promote the idea that “everyone is responsible” for prospecting, cultivating and signing up new accounts. The problem is that when “everyone is responsible” for new business no one is responsible. For those of you who subscribe to the idea that “everyone is responsible” – how’s that going for you? Likely, not well.
So who are those “hot agencies” and what are they doing to consistently win new business? Bottom line, the “who” doesn’t really matter. Of course, we can point to R/GA, which has won agency of the year multiple times from multiple trade associations, or The Concept Farm, which has consistently won reviews over the years; however, in each case, the DNA – the culture – of those agencies is unique and simply can’t be replicated.
But there are some transferrable lessons in what they are doing to consistently win new business. What is it that puts them on a winning streak while others are relegated to the runner-up position? I’ve led hundreds of agency reviews over the last 14 years, and I can honestly say that it’s not the individual people that make the difference. It’s the team that makes the greatest impact on prospective clients.
AAR Partners recently managed a review for a hospitality account, and the CMO clearly stated three specific evaluation points he and his team kept in mind while going through the arduous deliberation process of selecting a winning agency:
Did the agency team build our confidence?
Did the agency team leave us wanting more?
Can we imagine working with the agency team two to three years out and see a positive ROI and a successful relationship?
Sure, clients want to work with people they like and trust but, first and foremost, they want to work with a team that works well together internally. We’re in the business of relationships, and if the client team cannot project themselves working well with the agency team for the long term, the agency will most likely fall to the runner-up spot.
Yes – as it’s been said, every agency’s greatest asset is its people, but it’s the team plus the culture that envelopes and supports that team that makes all the difference. It’s the team and the culture that ensure consistency, even if an individual team member leaves.
So what is that cultural distinction? It’s a powerful element that shapes an agency’s environment, work ethic, relationships and ultimately new business success. It’s that infamous stairwell at the Richards Group; it’s the wall of caricatures at the Moroch that highlights employee longevity and commitment; it’s the one long desk at the Barbarian Group that exemplifies camaraderie and cross-discipline thinking.
It is the team that demonstrates that culture to each and every prospective client in the following ways:
1. Drive, determination and RFB.
The drive and determination come from within. And it’s the reason for being that brings clarity and meaning. I constantly ask the agencies I meet with, “What is your reason for being?” You’d be surprised how few agencies can succinctly articulate what they do and why they are different. According to the U.S. Census data, there are more than 76,000 communications firms in the United States. So what’s the reason behind another new agency to exist? The agencies that truly stand out know exactly what they stand for and why they do what they do. Take for example, Oberland, in New York. They are focused on creating, nurturing and growing brands with a higher purpose. That reason for being has fueled the agency’s drive and new business growth since they were founded only a few years ago.
2. Passion and chemistry.
Nothing beats it. And more important, you can’t fake it or define it. If an explanation is necessary then the agency simply doesn’t have it.
3. Powerful and consistent technique.
This isn’t about a proprietary process or point of view. Again, there’s nothing proprietary at an agency except for its people. Rigor is needed in new business and most important, an integrated communications platform that reaches out to marketers in the right manner with the right message and at the right time. The late great Mike Hughes helped build The Martin Agency into what it is today by reaching out with relevant and timely information to show he was thinking about that brand and cared enough to send a note (many times handwritten, I might add) that was sincere and not “sales-y.”
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for winning new business. It’s consistent communication, diligence, passion and a culture engrained in a team that truly cares about its prospective clients’ needs. Jackie Kanas, former director of advertising and public relations manager at The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, said it best: “Persistence is important, but foster a relationship by offering business insights and not just sales information.”
Read more from the source: Forbes
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