Chemistry Wins Ad Agency New Business

Full-disclosure – I’ve been in the room less than a dozen times during the agency selection decision, so I’m relying on search consultants who confirm that once there are 2-3 comparable agencies competing in the finals, the hiring decision often comes down to chemistry.

So why is this the case? Thinking about it analytically, you might conclude that:

  • It’s hard to differentiate between agency services;
  • Talent is usually perceived as being equal, unless your agency is “a Crispin”;
  • Thanks to procurement, the economy, and pressure to reduce prices, the low-cost agency should always win.

However, I think the answer is simpler: people do business with people they like.

If hiring decisions are made because of chemistry, what can you do to build chemistry-creation into your proactive new business program?

I think there’s something to developing the ability to “read” people – to determine the type of person you’re speaking with or presenting to, and then give them what they want, how they want it. However, I doubt there are very many people who can pull this off effectively.

What I’ve seen work far better is this: ask your prospects questions to determine:

  • What they want or need;
  • What their opportunities or challenges are;
  • When they need a solution.

And then, present a solution that meets their needs and timetable.

Along the way, use your intuition and determine if you like them and would enjoy having them as a client. If you do, pursue the opportunity. If you don’t, remember that chemistry is a two-way street, and walk away.

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