First Meeting Self Destruction: Happening Today

Agencies will do almost anything to get a first meeting with an ideal new business prospect. But once the meeting is secured, optimism often turns to disappointment, and too often it’s because the agency drops the ball.

Here’s an example that’s in play today. A good agency located in the Southwest had a meeting with one of its high-value prospects. The meeting went well and the agency left with the promise to submit a proposal for an initial research project. It was a foot in the door, for a small project estimated at $50,000.

Once back at the agency, the usual client issues surfaced, and delays ensued. The discussion also turned to the small size of the initial project, and internally (without conversation with the prospect), the project scope started to expand.

Three and a half weeks later (!), which was last Friday, the agency sent the proposal to the client, with a price tag of $191,000.

The result: sticker shock (to say the least).

I can’t predict what will happen next, but odds are the project – any project – is in jeopardy.

Let’s summarize what went wrong:

  • Not meeting expectations: When you promise to submit a proposal, doing so more than a week later for a small project says only bad things about your agency. For example, if it takes you three+ weeks to create a proposal, later on will you be able to deliver work on time?
  • No sense of urgency: Are you hungry for new business? Do you really want to work with this client? Are you thinking about them, or about yourself? Are you willing to go the extra mile for your clients?
  • Greed: As you know, value is in the eye of the client. Projects have three potential prices: what it costs to produce; what it’s worth; and, what a client will pay. I’m not sure what $191K represents, but there’s no doubt it’s not what the client expected to pay.

Client relationships are built on trust. Establishing your credibility from day one – doing what you say you’re going to do – is paramount. While this story may seem extreme, it’s actually a common refrain.

So why not change your new business process to one based on meeting expectations with a sense of urgency, and win more new business?


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