Blair teaches creative firms to win new business without giving away your thinking for free. New book coming out. Describes the sales pitch as a flaw in the business process. It is fundamentally flawed. What Blair doesn’t like about New Business Development:
It’s expensive. It causes agencies to sacrifice respect. Self-respect and Client respect. Sacrificing the position of the firm. You should be able to position yourself as experts. Because, you are giving away your highest product. You should go into the engagement as the expert, not the order-taker-supplier. This can all be distilled into one word: Control. Blair is going through an example. Client puts a gun to the Agency’s head, saying “If I don’t get your best work, you are going to die”. Then, the Client says, what can I do to make this happen (to get your best work)?”. The client would want complete freedom to be themselves and do things their way, along with complete access to everyone needed at the Client. This is control. You need to go into each prospective engagement with this position in mind. Business Development is nothing more than the ‘polite battle for business control’. Client should recognize and value your expertise and methods used to achieve your goal. If the Client doesn’t recognize this, you should walk away. The pitch, is the client-driven selection process. Control is with the client and you are not free to perform at your optimal level. We are seeing that our bad habits are ingrained into our sales process. The WWP philosophy has the agency control method built into it. The Four P’s of Business Development: Postioning, Product, Process, and Personnel.
Positioning: claim of expertise that you are making to the world. Strategy, articulated in this claim: we are experts at ________. It is the foundation of business success, and the root of its failures.
Product: what comes next. The ability to prove your claim of expertise. You can no longer be all things to all people, unless you do not face positioning at all. This is what many people in the agency world do — make a statement so broad that it is meaningless.
Process: policies and protocol of ‘how’ we will and will not go about getting new business. From lead generation, to categorizing and closing.
Personnel: who. How do we assign the new business development people? How do we support them?
What is the cost of creativity? It shows up in positioning. Why is it so hard to get a Principal to focus? It is not in their nature. If you want to strengthen your position, then, you need to narrow your focus. This is why agency’s new business isn’t working. The people in charge (typically the Agency Principal) isn’t interested in repeating the same issue over and over again. Agency Principal’s are interested in solving new issues and being creative.
Blair’s job in his consulting is ‘putting the bridle on the mustang’ — to harness the focus of the creative principal, to realize their full potential and point them in one direction.
How Info Moves Through CRM
Lead – everything begins here. Name on a list or an inbound inquiry. You don’t know them. Can be a chaotic system. This is the first stage of CRM in a buying cycle. As soon as they are converted to a phone call and determine where they are in the buying cycle, converted into the Contact and Account (the company). The job in converting the lead is to get accurate information and determine if there is an Opportunity to perform work for them. You cannot create a new Opportunity without setting up a Next Step. You are forced to do so. All Opportunities have an Outcome: Closed/Won; Closed/Lost; Closed/Slipped (important: Opportunities where you didn’t win; didn’t lose, but nobody won them because they were never actually there).
You want to have Campaigns set up and know which of your Contacts were gained from which Campaigns (email marketing, newsletters, etc.). Activities will be set up to track contact and reporting.
Agencies grade their Opportunities, loosely as Hot, Warm and Cold. What are the qualifications to grade them then? Examples: Have we met with the client? Does the client have a budget? Have we presented a proposal (Blair wants to end this step)? This step doesn’t need to be used in the Sales, Development Cycle. What are the ramifications of setting up such metrics? You will get more of whatever you are measuring. If you grade opportunities by getting meetings, for example, you will find that you have many more meetings. The problem is that meetings don’t mean more clients. You should meet with new clients at the appropriate time. But if New Business compensation is based on new meetings, then you will get a high quantity and a low quality of those meetings. If we removed meetings from the sales process, we can eliminate a lot of unnecessary costs. It is hard to break out of the habit of generating proposals and setting meetings, etc. Some of the most successful firms continue to use this despite lack of any need to seek new business.
3 Steps to WWP
1. Change the power structure in the buy/sell through Positioning.
2. Evolve your role as the client moves through the buying cycle
3. Offer alternative forms of reassurance – closing is all about reassuring
Who has the Power in the Relationship? Agency or Client? Client. Where does the client’s power come from? Most say it is because the client has the money. Not true. If Bill Gates has a problem, and all the money in the world — what if he has no one to help him with his problem? He can send an RFP to 12 companies. His power to do this is not from money. It comes from available substitutes. If you do not participate in the selection process, someone will. We are in oversupply. How do we get the power back? Positioning. It’s not about what you say; it is about how they see you. Remember: we are in the Positioning business (we forget this for our own firm). The benefits of differentiation are the ability to command a price premium. If you can establish Positioning there are no longer any available substitutes. Bill Gates becomes more likely to give us more control. Now you must demonstrate your expertise. Visualize pouring bottled water into a) a casserole dish versus b) a pilsner glass. Who has the depth? Which one is flat? This is a difficult step — in which way do we focus.
Evolve your role – Buying is changing. Change happens in stages. Certain methods of change only work in specific stages in the buying cycle (there are 6 stages; 9 methods). Help the unaware. Inspire the interested. Reassure the intent. It is not your job to convince someone to hire you. It is your job to convince someone of your expertise. It is the client’s job to determine if they would like to move forward. You should let them feel at ease to say no at any stage of the buying cycle. But offer them the opportunity to get your monthly newsletter, for example, in order to bring them awareness of your expertise. When you are making sales inquiries, you have to make sure you do not mistake interest for intent. You are skilled, already, at inspiring interest. Many times you are pitching interested clients who haven’t developed the intent to move forward. Forming the intent to take action is necessary, but it is also inspiring to the client. These heightened emotions can lead to a fear of future ‘buyer’s remorse’. Closing is about reassuring the client’s intent, and that this will not happen. The client will be questioning their intent and the potential for failure. What the client is looking for late in the buying cycle is to determine if you have done this before. They want to know that you work from a defined methodology. When the questions arise, you answer them in a way that demonstrates that you know what your are doing. This demonstrates little variation in process equals little variation in outcome. Blair and WMJ’s methodology is about not focusing on what you are doing to get new business but identifying where the client is in the buying cycle.
Offering Reassurance – The client has a fear that they made a big mistake in hiring you. They begin to ask you to do a list of ridiculous things: ask for salary listings; ask for proposals, spec work, etc. They are simply trying to reduce their risk of making a bad decision. Just remember that this is a person that is worried. Rather than respond to the requests, look past them, and offer alternative forms of reassurance. One is to demonstrate that you have a defined methodology. When you do this, and can explain it, you are slowly taking control — and seeing if the client will let you. They are far more inclined to let you ‘drive’. Creative Firms fear process. They feel that it kills creativity. This is a legitimate fear, but, you must think of your end goal. Have you ever offered a guarantee of your product? A money back guarantee? This is a reverse pitch. What is the risk to you? Are you losing more by offering money back at the end of creative cycle or by giving them the creative, the pitch, the proposal and then never getting the business? They are much more vested by the end of the process and thus far less likely to turn you down. A guarantee is a seldom used, yet powerful tool.
Goals – you should gain one new client per quarter. High quality, lucrative clients. The proposal step should be eliminated from your sales process. Meetings are not the objective. Use objective data to grade Opportunities. Does the CLIENT see the fit? Do we understand how they buy? Is there Intent? [Missed Step].
Grading Opportunities – Help the unaware (Level 1). Help the Interested = Level 2 contemplating. Reassure the Intent – Level 3 is Planning and Level 4 is Action. Level 3 and 4 are late stage opportunities. These are the levels that we are reviewing and which reporting in Workamajig is based on.
WWP in Workamajig CRM – this is a separate tab in the Opportunity within Workamajig, and you are given space to document your Opportunities at each level.