It’s the biggest sales job we have to do — sell ourselves.
- One of two agencies up for an account
- One of two finalists for a job we really want
- One of two small businesses pitching for a big new client
You know that the decision makers are in the final phases of weighing their options. Might be a few days, might be a week, might even be a month.
How do you stay top of mind? How do you let them know you really want the job/account? How do you demonstrate you’re the right choice? How do you balance the scales between looking too eager versus nonchalant? Or do you do nothing and just let your interview/proposal speak for itself?
How do you make sure that you stand out from the crowd?
Flickr photo courtesy of buggs.
Interesting question. I really think that getting to the top two is the goal – the decision at that point is a 50-50 near-random draw.
This is because I think that, whether as an individual or an agency, the key to earning long-term, sustained “hires” and “wins” is to be true and clear. This sometimes means that you honestly concede (whether you tell the potential client or not) that the “other” offer is better suited for the client.
If you’ve ever fired a client, you know what I’m talking about. Being the best at what you do almost, by definition, means that you can’t be everything to every client.
Making it to the top two is the key, in my mind, that is where “top” or “second top” of mind really makes the difference.
So, I’m personally of the belief that, to get to the round of two, you need to do three things to distinguish yourself:
1) Have your facts straight – research, ask questions based on that research, then based on your relationship, and check those facts back against your client. You clear the field of competitors by about half just by doing this.
2) Find the hook: what makes this project worthy of selling, of buying, of believing in? It amazes me the number of competitors who think they are doing a client a favor by taking their money without ever even understanding what makes the widget, the event or the ideal such an insanely great thing.
3) Overeager isn’t possible if you have 1) and 2) taken care of. If a client ever perceives me to be too enthusiastic about their service/project/whatever, even after I’ve proven my understanding of it and have demonstrated my faith in its standing as a “good thing” worth selling, then I’m not the right fit for the client any way.
The only time my long-rage “wins” might be threatened is if I ever fake 1, 2 or 3 in an effort to trade a short-term win for long-term misery.
Excellent! A great primer on how to ethically be one of the short list. I think you’re right on the money there.
Do you really believe that when a client or prospective employer is deciding between two service providers or potential new hires…it’s decided in a forced randomness?
That one gesture or effort from one of the two finalists couldn’t or wouldn’t put it over the top?
I’m not sure I agree with that. I will give you — some of it is seemingly random. But I think underneath it, an emotional buying decision is being made.
Which one is going to take more off my plate? Which one will appeal to my board? Which one is going to get along with the team better?
I’m still wrestling with this one!