Many agencies make this classic mistake when pitching for new work. Just remember — give them dessert first!

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Hey everybody, Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute, this week coming to you from downtown Chicago, where I am teaching the Running Your Agency For Growth and Profit workshop. One of the conversations that we had today was how do we better present ourselves to prospects? And one of the mistakes agencies make when they are presenting, either formally in a conference room or informally across a cup of coffee, whatever it may be, what are the mistakes we make and how can we be better? And interestingly, that conversation reminded me of a rule my parents created when we were on vacation. So, our family vacation rule was, “There were no rules.” As long as it didn’t kill you or put you in mortal danger, you could do it. So my sister and I interpreted that rule as, “We can have dessert before we have dinner.” That was one of the many ways that we leveraged the vacation rule to our advantage. And honestly, believe it or not, that ties right back to this conversation of what can we do better when it it comes to pitching business to prospects. What we hear time and time again, whether it’s in our research with clients, when we’re talking to agency search firms, when we’re doing client satisfaction surveys, whatever it is, one of the recurring themes that we hear is that agencies talk about themselves upfront rather than at the end and they talk about themselves for too long. Your clients or your prospects already know enough about you that they’re ready to engage in the conversation. When they sit down with you, formally or informally, for you to give them your best pitch on why they should hire you, they’ve already pre-qualified you to a certain extent. What they really want to know about, what they’re hungry to have is, “What do you know about us, what do you know about our competitors, and how can you help us achieve our goals?” That’s dessert for them and they want that before dinner, and particularly before the vegetable. So in my scenario, you and the conversation about your agency are the brussels sprouts. They’re not excited about the brussels sprouts. They’re excited about the dessert. So when you’re building your deck or you’re thinking through sort of the outline of how you want to talk to a prospect about how you can serve them, give them the dessert first. Tell them what you know about them, ask them questions to give you even more insight, talk about their competitors, talk about whatever research you did, and talk to them about how you are going to help them solve their business problems. That, for them, is a great, rich dessert. That’s what they’re hungry for. That’s why they came to the meeting with their mouth watering to get. And then at the very end, offer them the brussels sprouts. And again, a small bowl of brussels sprouts because nobody wants to eat a lot of brussels sprouts. Maybe you do; I do not. But my point is this: little bit about yourself at the tail end but give them all the rich, gooey stuff, all of the things that they’re going to be thinking about after you leave, all of the things that they’re going to be excited about that are going to get them to engage with you, give them all of that upfront. Don’t build up to it. Just deliver the dessert first. All right? Hopefully that was helpful. I’ll see you next week.

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