Ad agency new business closing rates or close ratio’s are a critical indicator of relative success. Low close ratio’s increase new business strain exponentially and tend to demoralize the team. Above average close ratios are wonderful, however, they tend to be hard to sustain over the long term and often leave your teams overworked and exhausted. Not to mention the negative impact on existing client service levels.
In reality there are more agencies out there suffering from a less than acceptable close ratio than an above average one. For these agencies their ongoing growth and profitability is dependent on them improving it. In fact, in some instances, their very survival may depend on it. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide a checklist of suggested tips that could help do just that.
- Do not pitch everything. Pitch only what you believe you have a good chance of winning. (Be honest with yourself here)
- Team to win versus team available. If you cannot field the best team to win it, do not assign it to the B or C team. You will lose the pitch.
- Pitch to win every time. If you cannot then walk away. Sometimes it’s better to say no.
- Use a process to manage the pitch. It should be tightly managed from start to finish.
- Assign a budget. Decide up front what the account is worth and how much you are prepared to invest in the pitch. Then manage resources against that budget. You don’t want to end up spending three times the first year revenue in pitch costs!
- Build your strategy on actionable insights. Do your homework and find the actionable insights. Make sure that the creative solutions connect with the strategic insights.
- Market your agency throughout the process. Demonstrate your passion and knowledge along the way. Do not wait to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
- Always address the brief first. Make sure that you have addressed the brief before you offer up alternative solutions or approaches. Support the alternatives with sound, convincing facts or research. You have to earn the credibility to “abolish the box”.
- Know who your competitors are. Whenever possible, find out who they are and play to your strengths and their weaknesses.
- Keep it clear and simple. Avoid too much detail and subsequent confusion. Simple, clear and concise. Make every word count.
- Use theatre when appropriate. Steer clear of the monologue; engage the audience and entertain them.
- Reflect your agency in the pitch. It’s all about chemistry. Make sure that you connect as a team and connect with the clients. Avoid walking over each other.
- Tailor the pitch to the decision makers. If you can find out what type of personality the decision maker is you can tailor your presentation to address their style.
- Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse. And did I say rehearse?
- Summarize and reinforce why your agency. Think of it as the prosecutor’s final summation to the jury. Make it compelling, reinforce the facts and convince them that there is no other alternative.
- Anticipate questions and coordinate. Avoid walking over each other and answering the same question 3-4 times.
- Plan what you will send in advance so it’s ready to go with no delays.
Then expect a call telling you that you’ve won the business and that you blew them away!