We’re making a presentation today for new business.
The team is ready, we’re psyched. In just a few hours, we’ll know the outcome.
We met the prospect at a trade show. They followed up with an adorably brief RFP (they only asked about eight questions). Their goals: greater brand recognition … drive the right kind of leads …get into the top-tier media and maximize growth.
To be honest, the RFP questions were a little bit off our sweet spot (we but we answered them with gusto. Do I think our agency is up for this challenge—that we can help the prospect achieve their goals and move the needle for them in exciting ways? ABSOLUTELY.
But can I just say … the RFP process is weird.
A company is looking for an agency—a partner that can deliver results. They need a “match”—an agency that’s simpatico in terms of temperament, creativity, even spirit. They need to fall in LOVE with the agency. Are they really going to find this match and fall in love based on responses to questions in an RFP?
What is unsettling is that we know very little about them. Sure, we’ve probably spent 20 hours on the prospect’s website, so we know some of the basics. But there’s a lot we don’t know. How they’re thinking, planning and managing key aspects of the business (and their brand) to achieve the growth they want. What they’re currently doing to fuel marketing and PR. How they define marketing and PR “success.” What kind of budget they have to achieve their goals and whether these goals are realistic.
I’ll stop. You get the picture. You might have even gone through this process yourself.
We’ll walk into the presentation today knowing none of that. We’ll do the best we can—showcase our experience, our smarts, our people—and hope we make it to a “second date” where we can look across the table and say, “Enough about me. Tell me about you.”
In fact, the RFP process is so weird that I can’t help imagining a different kind of first date. We’re not presenting. We’re having a conversation. We’re telling stories … exchanging ideas … sharing intelligence and expertise … and, most important, we’re LISTENING to each other and asking questions.
In fact, we’ll try to inject this approach into the “presentation” today. It’s who we are as an agency; it’s in our DNA. It’s how we like to get to know and work with clients.
So, it’s almost time for that “first date.” We’re ready. Wish us luck.
About the Author: Katrina Busselle is Vice President of Client Services for fisher VISTA. When Katrina’s not working with fisher VISTA agency clients, she’s collaborating with team members, innovating and paying attention to the changing marketing landscape.