6 Critical Elements of An Ad Agency Sales Pitch
If there is one thing you must do when selling a BtoB service (as in your ad agency’s services; a tech solution; a great media or creative idea…) it is making sure you understand the needs and motivations of the person you are selling to when you craft your sales pitch. Sounds obvious, right? Believe me, after interviewing a wide range of clients and ad agency search consultants for my book on pitching I have to say that many agencies do not follow this golden rule. We are simply not spending enough time really thinking about the buyer and her perspective.
A Sad Ad Agency Sales Story
I had this lesson hammered home at my first media to agency pitch when I moved from Saatchi & Saatchi New York to launch the brand new newspaper website NJ.com. I figured I’d start selling the new fangled idea of internet advertising to my friends at my old agency (this was 1996). I knew the agency inside and out and had worked with its Executive Media Director Allen Banks for years. My pitch included a hockey puck graph of projected Internet usage and a discussion of digital advertising that touted our news website’s newfound ability to track how website visitors viewed and interacted with online advertising.
Sounds like a great digital media pitch, right? Was Allen smiling? No. His reaction?
“Are you f*cking kidding me? We have made a fortune not really knowing how, when and for how long consumers have been looking at our ads. I manage hundreds of millions in advertising media placement. Knowing how much of it doesn’t work will kill our golden goose.”
My point in telling you this story is that I didn’t really think through Allen’s motivations and potential objections before I delivered my early online sales pitch about tracking and analytics. I had only thought about how wonderful the Internet advertising solution was. By the way, Allen was right. The Internet sure seems like it killed some parts of the golden advertising goose.
Here’s some more advice from the world of sales…
Yes, some of these 6 elements may seem obvious (and yes, I am repeating myself) — however, I know for a fact that not everyone in your agency truly understands these simple rules. Many of your colleagues, even the folks on your new business or creative idea pitch team, probably do not have much direct sales experience.
- Think like the client. The presentation (it’s a sales presentation!) must be written from the client’s perspective. What are they asking for, and what do they need and want to hear? You want to win them over, not your colleagues. This is the key reason why you have to learn about the individual clients, and if you have time, create personas for any new to you decision makers before you ever meet them.
- Involve them. Don’t make the presentation one-sided. Try to involve the client in a discussion. You might be able to motivate the stone-faced clients by asking them a few questions at the right time.
- Answer their questions. If the client has specific questions, stop talking and listen. Make sure you answer the question and confirm with them that you have. Think all agencies do this? I know for a fact that they don’t. Sometimes in the heat of the pitch, agency presenters will consciously or unconsciously deflect and even ignor the client’s question so that they can get on with their scripted presentation. This can be a major lost opportunity for dialog and might put off the client.
- Deliver value. The client has invited you into their world. Return the favor by giving them something of value in return. In most cases, this might be a serious insight or a creative solution. This is your chance to demonstrate why this client couldn’t possibly live without you.
- Be dynamic. Clients want agencies that are passionate about their work and ideas. Show your passion, and find a way to show passion for the client’s brand and/or quest. In a new business pitch, you might want to actually ask for the job.
- Be different. Again, if you are in a new biz pitch, know that the other agencies that are pitching are good, smart and could probably do the job. You have one chance to look and sound different. Think very hard about how you will stand out from the pack.
6 simple rules. They work.
Head over to this link to see my post on the 12 worst mistakes agencies make when pitching. You’ll like the cartoons as well.