New Business Prospecticide

Pros-pec-ti-cide  [pros-pek-tuh-sahyd]


  1. The act of killing prospects.

What a great word! I came across it in an article by Paul McCord. He raises valuable issues and recommendations that I’m passing on below. I’ve edited it down and oriented it towards new business (to read the full article click here).

The more timely and pertinent the message, the more value it adds. The more value you add, the more valuable you become. The more valuable you become, the more you ease competition out of the way.

You commit prospecticide when you kill your prospects through communication that trains them to avoid you – because you’re focused on your needs, not theirs. You’re doing it when your phone calls, e-mails, voice mail messages, and other communications are designed to advance your cause, not theirs.

Every communication you have with a prospect trains them either to:

  • Pay attention to you because you bring value to them; or,
  • Avoid you because you waste their time.

In a long sales cycle, which is typical of ad agency new business, prospect communication is crucial.

  • Each time you send something, call or leave a voice message, you’re telling your prospect what you think their time and attention is worth.
  • You’re telling them whether you’re concerned about them – or about yourself.

With every call, you’re also telling your prospect a great deal about you and your agency: What you think is important, and whether you have anything of value to say.

Before sending anything to a prospect, picking up the phone or leaving a voice message, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Would I want to hear from me?
  2. Would I want to receive this?
  3. Does it represent me well?
  4. Does it add value to our relationship?
  5. Is it designed to benefit the prospect – or me?

If your answers don’t indicate that the communication is prospect-centered and adds value, why deliver it?

Inexperienced new business people may not pay attention to the communications they deliver to their prospects. The objective, they figure, is to keep their name in front of them and let them know they’re interested in working with them.

The issue isn’t with the objective, but with the way it’s done. Examples of poor follow-up communication include:

  • The “How ya doin’?” call.
  • The “Is there anything I can do for ya?” call.
  • The “Did you get my package?” call.
  • The “I couldn’t reach you, but I wanted to see if you need anything” e-mail.
  • The  “Here’s our information again in case you misplaced it” package.

These communications are time-wasters for your prospects: They teach them to avoid you. Your future calls are likely to be screened and your messages not returned.

What can you communicate to add value?

  • Articles or white papers relating to aspects of their company or industry that may impact their business, that they’re unlikely to have read.
  • New agency services that enhance your ability to meet their needs.
  • Awards your agency has won – if they’re relevant to their business.
  • Articles relating to an interest your prospect has outside of work (providing you know them well enough to send it) – from a source they’re not likely to discover on their own.

To reach your prospect, have your calls returned and separate your agency from the competition, your opportunity is to stop teaching your prospects to ignore you and begin teaching them that you’re the new business person who adds value to their day.

If they determine they need you and that you add value to them and their business, you’ll have far less difficulty gaining their attention.

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