How to Create a Winning Mindset

On Thursday 13th September, Upfront was proud to partner with The BD100 for its launch event, bringing together over 100 business developers and like-minded individuals for an evening celebrating new business and recognising the best in business development.

The evening was hosted by The BD100 founders, Upfront’s very own Jody Osman and Richard McHardy of the McHardy Collective, with a panel discussion led by Robin Bonn, founder of management consultancy, Co:definery and featuring: Kerry Glazer (CEO of AAR), Matt Edwards (CEO of WCRS), Roy Jugessur (Senior VP of Global Sales at Selligent) and Kate Bosomworth (Chief Marketing Officer at M&C Saatchi).

The theme of the discussion was mindset, including how to create a winning mindset, making sure you’re “pitch fit”, and everything in between. Each of the panel shared their experience, insight and ideas to provide inspiration and tips around a number of key topics.

Business Development should be at the heart of every agency

How do agencies create an environment where business development can thrive? Roy believes it starts from the top, whilst Kerry added that the best agencies are those that are led by people who put new business at the heart. Matt, who before becoming CEO, led business development at WCRS, drew on his knowledge both in new business as well as leadership. He argued that this environment can be created by educating your entire team about just how difficult new business is. All successes should be celebrated, not just a pitch win, but all the small successes that led to that point. Agreeing with Matt, Kate stated that new business doesn’t happen in silo, and the entire company – from top to bottom – needs to understand their relationship with the agency business developer.

Good mentors can be found close to home

As a mentor to various people, Kate advised that you need to think about what you want from your relationship with your mentor very carefully. No matter where you are in your career, you can always benefit from a mentor, whether you’re just getting started or if you’re running your own agency. Roy added that it is beneficial to build good relationships with leaders within your company and attributed high emotional intelligence as key to a good mentor. Matt agreed with this, and also recommended that if your agency is part of a larger agency network, make use of these connections and find mentors within other companies. Whilst there may be resistance to this due to the competitive nature of the job, Kerry argued that business development is a small but unique community and we should be taking advantage of our shared experiences.

There can be very little difference between success and failure

Whilst Business Development is often a team effort, it can often feel like a Business Developer’s personal responsibility – and when it’s not going the way you want, it can feel like a personal failure. Kerry advised that you need to be resilient, you need to galvanise yourself and your time, and don’t let your team try to get out of rehearsing for pitches. To achieve this Roy recommended that you need to plan, plan, plan and work hard to maintain creativity on a daily basis. Kate attributed one of the biggest struggles for business developers is coping with the highs and lows of the job: If it isn’t going brilliantly, then it’s awful, and there’s not really an in-between. Matt added that it’s a role with a very visible definition of success with a much less visible means of getting there.

It’s not just about the wins

On the night Diane Young, co-founder of The Drum, also asked what would be a reasonable rate of growth was for an agency to expect. All panellists agreed that this was incredibly difficult to measure and that it varied depending on agency. Robin highlighted that an agencies definition of growth should be unique to them and their plans as a business. Kerry and Kate agreed that retention of clients is often overlooked, and business development should be celebrated as much as new business. If a client’s budget increases, this can be as important for an agency’s growth as a new win.

You have to know when to say no

The subject of conversation soon moved to the topic of pitching. All panelists agreed that who you should be selective about who choose to pitch for, and you shouldn’t be afraid to reject new opportunities. Kate went on to elaborate: Say no to a pitch opportunity and believe me, you will have the attention of your business

Thank you to all the panelists for an insightful and thought-provoking discussion.
See the highlights of The BD100 2018 event below:

If you are interested in finding out more about The BD100, attending or speaking at any future events, then please get in touch.

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The Drum’s Pitch Perfect: 5 Key Take-aways

On Thursday 13th September, Upfront’s Senior Business Development Manager, Jessica Milham attended The Drum’s Pitch Perfect event for a day focused on sharing ideas, knowledge and skills to perfect your pitch and clinch that all important client.

Here are Jess’s key insights from the day:

Think about qualification

It’s my job to ask all the right questions and ensure we are qualifying the right opportunities for agencies. However, Peter Czap, Director of The Wow Company, gave me a fresh perspective of how we can be qualifying who you want to work with. It really stuck with me, it’s important to sit back and ask yourself questions such as: Who do you REALLY want to work with? What do you want to be famous for? What can you be the best in the world at? Those were only a few out of 21 questions and most of these we do ask, but it was more of the way in which you can ask these questions which really stuck with me. There is definitely value in constantly asking these questions.

Create a culture of winning new business

This was a theme throughout the day which carried into The BD100 evening event and being a business developer, it resonated with me. If you work for an agency, do you have the whole agency striving to win new business or do you find that BD activity is purely down to one person?

If it’s the latter, well, you really need to question why. Surely everyone working for the agency should be just as passionate about the success of the business. New business should be everyone’s business.

Put everything into a client’s perspective

There was a fabulous client workshop including speakers such as Anna Stark, Head of Marketing at Sloggi and Adrian Cutler, Account Director at Microsoft. It got me thinking about how best to approach brands – how can you make it more personal or interesting? The panel shared lots of interesting approaches that stood out and where agencies can add value, rather than just sell. Kristal Ireland, Head of Ecommerce and Retail at LNER explained that one agency she remembers that invited her to join an online book club, where people share their latest read across the industry!

Your client isn’t just your client

A running theme throughout the day was around how you should work together as team and focus on collaboration. Initially mentioned by Josie Cartridge, Customer Director at River Island, she referred to her agency Studio Blvd as her partner and the way they work is a collaborative process. They have an honest, open relationship and when something works, you celebrate together… When something isn’t quite right, you sit down and work out how you’re going to fix this.

Get out more

Having reflected on a fantastic day, it’s given me time to realise the value of getting out and meeting people who are working towards the same goals as you. Of course, it’s good to meet potential new clients, but it’s just as valuable to meet potential business partners, mentors, coaches, talk about best practice and share the highs and the lows of new business.

This year Pitch Perfect partnered with The BD100, an initiative aimed to recognise The UK’s most influential business developers. Upfront was proud to sponsor this event which provided a great platform to shine a light on the business development community and share experience and insight with a fantastic panel discussion – click here read the highlights.


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Stay Ahead with August’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are August’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Former Global Chief Marketing Officer of Just Eat, Barnaby Dawe, has joined Pret A Manger as the Chief Customer Officer. The first person to take on this role in the company, Dawe will officially join in October and will be responsible for all Pret’s global marketing and communications activity.

Neil Hayes has been promoted to Marketing Director of Iceland Foods. His previous role was Merchandising and Format Development Director, and he will now be responsible for overseeing both marketing and merchandising.

Erin Roy has been appointed Marketing Director at The White Company. He has moved from Marks & Spencer where he was Head of Media & Digital Marketing.

Laura McLachlan has been promoted at Worldwide Cancer Research from Interim Director of Marketing & Communications to Director of Marketing.

Billie Jean De Voil has left Topshop Topman where he was Head of Marketing. He has moved to Lacoste where he has become Director of Marketing.

Border Biscuits has hired Suzie Carlaw as its newest Marketing Manager. She was formerly Marketing Controller and Quality Meat Scotland.

Lisa Coulson has been appointed Head of Marketing & Digital Innovation at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). She has moved from Virgin Media where she was Head of Marketing- Mobile.

BT has promoted Pete Oliver from Managing Director of Marketing to Managing Director of Marketing, Consumer Division BT & EE. This was part of a restructure aimed at speeding up the roll-out of new converged services.

Eve Tyers has left Bravissimo where she was Marketing Director. She has moved to Victoria’s Secret where she has also taken the position of Marketing Director.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Stay Upstream. Click here to find out more.


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Stay Ahead with July’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are July’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Michael Harris has been appointed Global Marketing Director, McVitie’s at Pladis Global. He has moved from General Mills where he was International Marketing Director, European Emerging Markets.

General Mills has hired Mark Brown as its new Marketing Director, Northern Europe. He has joined from Haagen Dazs where he was Global Senior Marketing Manager.

Patrick Megarry has moved to A.S Watson Group (Superdrug Stores plc) where he has become Head of Marketing. He previously worked at Proctor & Gamble, where he was Group Marketing Manager, Home Care Northern Europe. Superdrug also recently announced a growth in profit this year, attributing the steady financial figures to marketing campaigns like its sponsorship of ITV’s Love Island.

Lloyds Banking Group has appointed Richard Warren as its new Director, Marketing Communications. He has moved from GreenhouseGroupM, where he was Managing Director.

Rachel Waller has become VP Marketing, Digital at Burberry. She has moved from Farfetch where she was Global Director of Brand and Social Media.

Bruce Dallas has been promoted from Brand Director to GB Marketing Director at Britvic Plc. Dallas has been brand director of carbonates for the Robinsons, PepsiMax and 7Up producer for the past two years.

Vauxhall Motors has hired Patrick Fourniol as Marketing Director. Prior to this, Fourniol was at Al-Fattaim where he was Head of Marketing for Toyota.

Homebase has promoted Elia Green as from Head of Regional Marketing, Homebase Bunnings to Head of Marketing.

Clafoutie Sintive has been appointed Marketing Director, Snacks at Walkers Snacks. She has moved from L’Oreal where she was also Marketing Director, Beauty sets & Pure players.

Emma Thompson has been promoted from Senior Global CRM Manager to TIGI Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Unilever.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Stay Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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The Pitch Process: Evolution or Reinvention?

5 Key Takeaways from Upfront Straight Talking event: How can the pitch process be improved?

Last month Upfront Business Development hosted the latest in its Straight Talking Series, bringing together over 100 agencies and brands to debate the pitch process. Robin Bonn, Founder of Co:definery, led the discussion with representatives from brand, agency, intermediary and procurement. The expert panel consisted of Carolyn McKeever, Global Head of Downstream Marketing at Shell, Nina Jasinski, Chief Marketing Officer at Ogilvy, Charlie Carpenter, Managing Director at Creativebrief and Tina Fegent, from Tina Fegent Consulting.

  1. Views on the pitch process were split 

 Creativebrief’s recent research suggested that 61% of brands and 93% of agencies didn’t think the current pitch process was fit for purpose. Upfront’s Founder, Jody Osman, kicked off the day by asking the audience their views on this. The room was evenly split between those that agreed and those who disagreed. A good starting point to continue the discussion on how it can be improved.

There was also difference in opinion amongst the panel. Nina (agency) and Tina (procurement) were in general agreement that if the proper procedures are adhered to, the pitch process largely works. From the brand perspective, Carolyn agreed that the current process is working, but recognised the many flaws for both client and agency, and called for more fluidity in relationship between those involved. Charlie, as supported by Creativebrief’s research, highlighted the growing dissatisfaction with the current process by both brands and agencies. Due to increased selectivity of agencies, brands are not always getting the agencies they necessarily want, in which Carolyn agreed, based on her experiences at Shell, where five agencies that they wanted to work with turned them down.

  1. Agency stand out is vital

In order to stand out from the crowd, Nina commented that for agencies, “reputation is definitely paramount…if you don’t understand how the client is finding you and you’re hoping that its just going to happen by luck, it’s going to take a long time for you to grow”. Carolyn agreed with this statement. Whilst she concurred that a number of boxes need to be ticked to narrow down a short list of appropriate agencies, she commented that once it gets to pitching, every agency can do everything they need across every market in every possible way and it’s therefore very difficult to make the final decision.

“That final decision comes down to: did you like the people? Was the work good? Was there chemistry? Was there any diversity at all on their panel side?” (Shell)

  1. Partnership is a complicated term

Debate continued around to what extent the pitch demonstrates a good future relationship between client and agency. Carolyn argued that the more important question to be asked is “why are we even pitching?” commenting that the pitch process doesn’t fully give a sense of how the partnership will work. Charlie added  that the pitch process doesn’t offers a “true sense” of what it will be like to work with an agency. Nina contended that this doesn’t mean that they didn’t end up happy in the choice of agency and argued that transparency on both sides will create a stronger collaboration between client and agency.  After conducting a comprehensive global agency review earlier this year, Carolyn believes that the idea of “partnership is seriously lacking”, and in order to change this, both sides need to be open to the change. Tina commented that partnership is a really tough word to use, and one procurement doesn’t use lightly.

“Agencies are suppliers and while you should try to do the most to make sure it’s a two-way relationship, it’s ultimately a client- supplier relationship.” (Tina Fegent Consulting)

Tina did note that finding out about each other is essential, so workshops within the process need to be utilised. Charlie commented that the current process in place doesn’t promote a strong partnership, and clients will find much greater value from spending significant time with the agency, as indicated in the “try before you buy” process that Creativebrief are beginning to promote. He highlighted that the narrative around leverage which procurement specialist tend to argue needs to change in order to promote a successful partnership.

  1. One size doesn’t fit all

Although disagreement on best practices, all panellists were in general agreement that there wasn’t one strict structure of the pitch process that worked for every client and agency. There are over 20,000 agencies in the UK and 40 different agency models so there isn’t going to be one solution to suit everyone. Robin argued that there is an opportunity for both brands and agencies to challenge the process in place, and there are a whole variety of different pitching models, which can be tailored depending on type, size and resource of agency.

“It’s’ incumbent on everybody to have a conversation, and to push to have that conversation about what’s the right kind of model, both on the client and on the agency side. It’s a question of taking responsibility…agencies should make sure you have the remit, responsibility and the criteria that are pertinent, and give yourself permission to have that conversation with the client.” (Co:definery)

The day ended with Robin wrapping up and offering the advice that all parties need to choose the model that is right for them. It’s not about dramatic change, but evolution of the process to eventually get the best for all involved.

  1. Still plenty more to discuss

The conversation will continue at The Drum’s Pitch Perfect event on 13th September. That evening, The BD100 awards, will celebrate the best UK business developers; bringing together the Business Development community for a night of networking, conversation, insight and celebration.
Get your ticket for Pitch Perfect, and The BD100 event here

See more highlights from the event below:

If you are interested in finding out more about Pitch Perfect, attending or speaking at any future events, please get in touch.

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Make sure you are set to win big in the second half of the year

As we pass the half way point of the year and move into the summer, it’s a good time to remind yourself of the new business objectives you set for the year. Are you on track to achieve these? It’s useful to review progress so far, look at what’s working well – and what’s not – and make sure you’re all set for a strong second half of the year.

The AAR recently reported a ‘positive diagnosis’ for new business, despite a 8.9% year-on-year drop in reviews in the first half of this year. There has been a number of major agency reviews completed by big spenders such as Shell, Camelot, Sky and Asda and momentum has picked up after a very slow first quarter. Advertising and Integrated pitches are down, media remains the same, whilst digital pitch activity is up 11.8%.

We spoke to Fran Brook, New Business Lead at MullenLowe, who shared her experience with us: “it doesn’t feel as though there has been as many new business opportunities in the first few months of this year compared to the same period in 2017. Having said that, the briefs that have gone out have been far greater in value, both creatively and financially. We now have a much clearer idea of what briefs we want to go for during the remainder of the year.”

It appears that clients are looking for more from agencies and the new business market is becoming increasingly competitive. In response, it seems that agencies are becoming more focused on what work they want to win and developing their agency models and structures accordingly. New business success is often about knowing which is the right work to pitch for and committing to this, which is likely to ensure a much higher conversion rate and a more sustainable business.

This was a topic covered at our recent Straight-Talking event which explored how the pitch process can be improved. Charlie Carpenter, Managing Director at Creativebrief, was on our panel and observed that: “agencies are now genuinely more selective about what they pitch for due to a lack of resource and the time that can be involved in a pitch process.”

Whilst the AAR report provides a positive update on the new business market, their Chief Executive Kerry Glazer goes on to warn: “The more significant issue is, however, that a similar sized new business market place is being shared out amongst an increasing number of very capable agencies.”

This can make it difficult for the client to make the right choice and it becomes increasingly important for agencies to stand out. Carolyn Mckeever, Global Head of Downstream Marketing at Shell, shared her experience with us from a recent pitch: “every agency came in and said they could do everything we wanted, across every market, in every possible way, in 4 different flavours. Which makes it very difficult to make that final decision.”

In response to this, many agencies have been reviewing their structure and ways of working, as well as paying more attention to their positioning and proposition. Ogilvy recently ditched Mather to introduce a new corporate identity as they aim to “build a new model for the industry” after streamlining and simplifying their organisation structure.

Whether it’s a formal pitch, or an opportunity without a comparative review, it’s really important to invest time into getting to know the client and bringing to life your approach. Charlie Carpenter, explained that “brands are increasingly making decisions based on approach, strategic thinking, chemistry, people, teams and ways of working.” It’s therefore important to know what you stand for as an agency and make sure this is aligned to a strong understanding of what the client actually needs.

Whilst the summer is often seen as a quiet time for new business, it’s a great time to fine tune your new business approach. Make sure that your objectives for the year are realistic and appropriate for your business – are you going after the right type of business? Then give yourself the best chance to achieve this by ensuring your proposition is relevant to the market today and highly focused. And make sure you have everything in place to deliver on this. By doing this you can make sure you stand out from the rest and maximize your chances of success over the coming months.

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss further.

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Stay Ahead with June’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are June’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Liz Darran has been appointed Marketing Director at Compare The Market. She has moved from Sky where she was Director of Brand Marketing.

Sainsbury’s has promoted Clodagh Moriarty from Director of Online to Group Chief Digital Officer. Moriarty will create and lead digital strategy across Sainsbury’s, Argos, Sainsbury’s Bank and Nectar with immediate effect.

Kirsty Keaveney has been appointed Brand Manager of Warburtons. She has moved from Living Ventures Group of Companies where she was Brand Marketing Manager.

Jon Brook has joined Interflora as Head of Marketing. He was previously as Inchcape where he was also Head of Marketing.

Mars has promoted former Chief Marketing & Customer Officer, Andrew Clarke, to Global President of Mars Wrigley Confectionery. He is replacing Martin Radvan, who is retiring after being at Mars for 32 years.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Stay Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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Stay Ahead with May’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are May’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Amanda Hill has joined Harrods where she has become Chief Marketing & Customer Officer. She has moved from A+E Networks in New York, where she was also Chief Marketing Officer. Hill’s appointment signals a new direction in creative marketing for both Harrods’ store and online operations. The Department Store has also appointed Jodie Blackbrough as their new Head of Online Content. She has moved from Harvey Nichols where she was Head of Brand & Customer Marketing.

Pentland Brands has promoted Helen Yarnall from Digital Communications Manager to Head of UK Shopper Marketing- Active Division.

Alexis Berger has been appointed Marketing Director, Stella Artois Europe at Anheuser-Busch InBev. She was previously Global Marketing Director, Stella Artois in the New York office.

Ryanair has promoted Chiara Ravara from Senior Sales and Marketing Manager to Head of Sales and Marketing. Ryanair also announced it’s ‘Thanks a Billion’ sale this month to celebrate the platform getting a total of one billion visits.

Red Bull has promoted former Head of Marketing, Peter Charles to Managing Director. Peter has been at Red Bull since 2014 joining as Head of Brand, having previously been at Pepsico for nine years.

Former Chief Commercial Officer of EasyJet, Peter Duffy has moved to Just Eat where he has become the company’s first Chief Customer Officer. This news was announced the same week that Just Eat confirmed the departure of Barnaby Dawe as Global Chief Marketing Officer. Barnaby was responsible for signing a continuous sponsorship deal with The X Factor, which was estimated to be worth near £30 million.

Dr. Martens has appointed Kenny Wilson as its new CEO. Dr. Martens has not had a CEO since Steve Murray left the position late last year. Wilson has moved from Cath Kidston where has was also CEO.

James Heywood has left Amazon where he was former Director, Electronics. He has moved to Uber where he was Regional General Manager, Northern & Eastern Europe.

Camilla Hoskisson has joined AIG Europe, where she has become digital marketing manager. She has moved from MetLife where she was Digital Marketing and Customer Experience Manager.

Jaguar Land Rover has had a large restructure of its marketing department. Former Chief Marketing Officer, Felix Brautigam, who joined the company in November has become Chief Commercial Officer. Fiona Pargeter has been promoted from Global PR Communications Director to Customer Experience Director. Anthony Bradbury has also changed roles from Global Communications Director to UK Marketing Director.

Nicola Pearle has joined Sweaty Betty as Head of Brand. She has joined from Net-A-Porter, where she was former Senior Marketing Manager, Maternity Cover.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Stay Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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10 Tips for a Successful New Business Meeting

Whether you are new or experienced to driving new business meetings, holding meetings with client prospects face-to-face requires a whole range of communication and sales skills.

To be successful it’s important to do your research and understand how you want the meeting to be structured. Whilst chemistry will be a big factor, it’s important not just to turn up to see how you ‘get on’, or to focus too much on your credentials carrying you through. Even if it has been positioned as casual, a prospective client will always be looking for more than just an informal chat.

Here are our top 10 tips to make sure you have a good first meeting:

Tip 1 – Know your audience.

Even if the client has told you not to prepare anything, they will always expect you to demonstrate that you know a bit about them, their brand, the way they work– and importantly, that you’re interested in working with them

Before deciding on what you will need to cover, and the best method of delivering this, here are some key considerations:

  • Who is attending the new business meeting?
  • What are their specific job roles, and reasons for attending the meeting? Sometimes you cannot get this information in advance. In the event that this is the case, it is advisable to ask them to introduce themselves and what they are looking to achieve from the meeting at the outset.
  • How many people will you be meeting?
    This will affect whether or not you choose to use a presentation or use a more informal medium like questions and answers. The more people present, the greater the requirement to use a presentation.

Tip 2 – Understand objectives.

What are you looking to get out of this meeting, and what are the objectives for the prospect? In most B2B sales situations, as the agency supplier you are looking to gain some form of decision from the prospect to move to some agreed next steps. These agreements (commonly referred to as “decision based objectives”) can be anything from a further meeting with the same people, additional meetings with other decision makers, a request for a proposal, an invitation to pitch or a commitment to appoint you.

However, you are most unlikely to achieve any one of these if the prospect does not see a “win-win” outcome from the solution you are offering. Good new business people are able to put themselves in the shoes of the buyer and ask themselves, “What does the client want to see proof of today?” This could be relevant experience, or a particular expertise. It is therefore essential that you understand their existing situation and provide a bespoke solution to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Tip 3 – Do your research.

Irrespective of your offer, you must do some research into the client before any sales meeting. The amount and detail required for this is dependent upon the size of business and the opportunity on offer to you. As a simple rule of thumb, the greater the opportunity, the greater the amount of research required. It is difficult to define exactly what you must research, since this varies considerably from service to service, but what the company does, how large they are as an organisation, and their previous and current situation concerning your service offering are the bare minimum. Along with this, who you are meeting, and their specific role in the process.

Tip 4 – Be punctual and be prepared.

Turning up late will immediately give a bad impression. Arrive at least 15 minutes early. You may only have a short period of time to win over a client and turning up late eats into this. If you cut it fine then you will miss out on valuable time to compose yourself, as well as affording time to set yourself up with any presentation and other technical requirements. Check ahead to find out what the setup is- Do they have a screen you can present on? Do they have the necessary cables? There can always be the unforeseen glitch, but this can make a big difference on timing and how you are perceived at a time where first impressions are critical.

Tip 5 – Introduce yourself!

This may sound obvious, but it is surprising how often this is skipped. Make sure you let the client know who each of you are, your background and what you do within the company. It’s a good chance to sell yourself, add personality, as well as helping the client understand why you are there and what you would be doing for them. Involve the client in the introductions too- it’s important to know their role and what they do to help shape your questioning and conversation, to ensure it is as relevant as possible to each individual.

Tip 6 – Have a good structure

If this has already been discussed in communication prior to the meeting, then it is good idea to repeat this in your opening to make sure expectations match up, particularly if the meeting has been booked by someone who is not actually attending.

For a typical first meeting with a prospective client, here is what we’d recommend:

  • Opening – be clear about why you are here, how you will run the meeting, and what you expect the outcome to be. You can also validate if this is consistent with those in the room.
  • Identify the need – clear, concise questions to establish the prospects current situation, their challenges specific to your service offering, and their criteria for selecting any supplier.
  • Presentation – this is your opportunity to pitch your service offering to the prospect. This should be bespoke to the prospect, and based upon your understanding of their specific needs.
  • Deal with objections that arise – very rarely do clients agree to appoint you without having some concerns, so make sure you understand what the questions are really asking and answer them effectively.
  • Agree next actions – in small sales processes with deals of relatively low value, you may be able to close the deal on the day. In larger sales cycles, this may be the first of many and your “close” is on a further meeting.

Tip 7 – Make sure you understand where you are in the cycle.

It is always important that you understand what stage you are at in your sales cycle. As examples, your meeting could be any one of:

  • First meeting – exploring client situation and challenge
  • Presentation of your service or a specific aspect of it
  • Negotiation of sale
  • Contractual terms and agreeing ways of working

Clearly, each meeting would need to be introduced and delivered very differently. The first meeting is going to be very question based, as you explore every aspect of the client situation relevant to your offering. However, when finalising a contract, you may be establishing the rules of working on the project you have been awarded.

Tip 8 – Develop an eye-catching presentation.

Sometimes the best meetings don’t involve you even opening a laptop as this can allow for free flowing discussion. But it’s always important to be prepared, as many clients will insist on this as a preference. Using a poorly prepared and visually unattractive presentation can decrease the overall value of your pitch. This is particularly so in larger sales cycles, or where the nature of the service you are selling is linked to quality based technology or creative solutions. A few simple rules to avoid this happening are:

– Make the presentation visually interesting.

– Do not overuse words and bullets. If I can present or read the content of your presentation without you being there, then it is a poor presentation. You want to help bring your discussion to life rather than distract from it. Only rely on key phrases or topic headers. Additionally, keep it punchy – a maximum of 10 slides should suffice to cover key agenda points.

– Always have a backup. This speaks for itself. If your laptop does not work, you need to have some mechanism for transferring your presentation onto a client workstation instead.

– If the client reduces the time you have to pitch, do not rush through a 30 minute presentation in five minutes. Discuss the most salient points or re-appoint to another time. Make sure that you know in advance how much time you will have and plan your presentation accordingly.

Tip 9 – Don’t Overrun.

A long meeting isn’t always a good meeting. You should know in advance how much time you have, and the client may be on a tight schedule. Often a Marketing Director will have their day booked out with back-to-back hour meetings and therefore if one meeting takes longer, it will have a knock on effect to a tightly structured day. Sometimes the preference is for 45 minutes to allow time to catch up in-between meetings. If the client reduces the time, focus on more salient points and make sure you leave time for questions. If the meeting has gone well and the client seems happy to keep talking then make the most of this. However, it’s always a good idea to check that that they are ok for time, otherwise you could be eating into their day.

Tip 10 – Agree next steps.

No matter how good your meeting went, and regardless of how impressive you were, if there are no agreed next steps, there is no sale. As discussed earlier, the next steps can be any number of things dependent upon the stage at which you currently are in the overall process. However, agreeing these is in the interest of you as a salesperson, and prospects who invariably do not want to waste their time on meetings that do not go anywhere.

It should be noted that this does not mean, “Close… close… close…!” The next action needs to be based upon clearly defined outcomes and objectives to progress to the next stage. If all the other steps above are followed, this will be no more than a straightforward summary of the meeting, the objectives of the prospect (as understood by you) and your proposed solution and follow up. Be as specific as you can with timing of next actions. And if you agree a next step, make sure you keep to it!

If you’d like to find out more, or need help securing new business meetings in the first place, please get in touch.

You may also find our article ‘Life’s a Pitch’ of interest.

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How Can The Pitch Process Be Improved?

Upfront announces next Straight-Talking event – 12 June 2018, The Soho Hotel

Pitching has always been a hot topic among agencies and brands and in recent months many are calling to rid the agency world of the pitch. As marketing budgets continue to feel economic pressures, new business is becoming increasingly competitive at all spending levels, and many are searching for a different solution – a practical, streamlined alternative to the traditional pitch.

On 12 June 2018, agencies and brands will come together for a panel discussion, hosted by Upfront Business Development, to examine the pitch process and debate how it can be improved.

The panel for the morning will be made up of agencies, brands, intermediaries and procurement – all bringing a different perspective.

The Brand Perspective

Carolyn McKeever is Shell’s Global Head of Downstream Marketing Communications. Her team develop the communication strategies and creative executions that drive consumer demand for Shell’s multi-billion dollar retail and lubricants global brand portfolio, across 40+ markets. She leads the capability programme on Integrated Marketing Communications and is committed to maximising professional competence within Shell’s global and local marketing teams. Prior to Shell she was at Boots, Zurich Financial Services and OgilvyOne. She has just conducted a comprehensive global agency review, project name ‘Agency of the Future’ and aims to share what she has learned at our event.

The Agency Perspective

Speaking exclusively from an agency perspective, Nina Jasinski, Chief Marketing Officer at Ogilvy, will draw from her extensive marketing experience across all disciplines. Having spent an equal amount of time working in advertising, as well as direct and digital agencies, she understands issues of integration, digital and convergence perfectly.

The Intermediary Perspective

Charlie Carpenter, Managing Director of Creativebrief will draw from his experience of working closely with both brands and agencies. Under Charlie’s direction Creativebrief has set a disruptive course, focusing on the power of technology to transform how brands and agencies can work together to create great content. Creativebrief are calling for more appropriate and effective alternative, which is fit for today’s landscape and previously hosted an event on ridding the agency of the pitch, as we know it.

The Procurement Perspective

Tina Fegent will be sharing her insights from a procurement perspective. She has a unique background having worked for both clients and agencies and was one of the first globally to get involved in Marketing Procurement. In 2006, she set up Tina Fegent Consulting to offer a procurement consultancy service to clients.

The discussion will be led by Robin Bonn, founder of New Business Management Consultancy, Co:definery. Robin has spent his whole career in new business, winning pitches for Skype, Eurostar, Fujitsu, Experian, Spotify, P&G, ITV, Microsoft, Facebook and Ford, to name a few. He launched Co:definery when he realised that agencies really are their own worst enemies, and in his own words said: “they keep churning out the same generic new business plans, wondering why they always get what they always got.”

Jody Osman, Managing Director at Upfront Business Development, said: “We’ve increasingly found both clients and agencies questioning the traditional pitch process and looking for a better way to find the right partners. We decided to bring together clients and agencies to discuss how the pitch process can be improved, as well as bringing in both the procurement and intermediary perspective who increasingly have a crucial role to play.”

The event will begin with breakfast at 8:30am, where there will be a chance to network with a mix of agencies and brands. The panel discussion will take place in the Screening Room, where the process around pitching will be closely explored by the panel, opening a Q&A at the end to the audience.

Register for tickets here.
Early bird ticket offers are on sale at a discounted price until 1st June 2018.

For further information contact Leiley Sanei on 020 3861 4450 or visit the Upfront website.


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