We’re believers that the sale is the sample. The way that the start of the process works is a strong indicator of how the relationship will run over time. The kickoff meeting, the chemistry session starts as soon as a potential client reaches out to us to ask for more information.
We’ve got some ideas on how clients approach this initial stage. It’s not going to suit every potential client, that’s fine. But experience has shown us that these are the signals that show us that we’re going to have a respectful, mutually beneficial relationship. Once that’s established, we can’t help but succeed.
Share the challenge you’re facing, not the diagnosis
Clearly you know that things have to change within your business. The market may be shifting, the competition is biting at your heels. Change needs to happen and you may well have a point of view on how that change has occurred and what the remedy is. You’re a creative problem solver, it’s natural that you go to a solution.
From our perspective we want to know your problem. At this stage we’re not wanting to dive into your self-diagnoses. There will be plenty of time for that if we’re appointed. If we’re getting a solution at this stage, we have to ask why you’re wanting us at all. What value will we add?
Self-diagnosis suggests to us that you’re looking for a company to rubber stamp internal thinking. We see our role as one that challenges internal thinking. It may well be that we’ll reach the same conclusion as you, but we’ll have stress tested any assumptions so that we know it’s the right solution. This is vitally important for those one-way door situations that your business may be facing.
Present us a problem. Then understand how we can work together to solve that problem using your market expertise and our professional objectivity.
Let us talk to the right people from the start
We love procurement teams. Love them. We’re proud of the relationships that we’ve built up with procurement teams globally.
But when we start the new business process with only procurement teams, our spider-sense starts a tingling. The relationship that we’re looking to build starts with the people that will be influencing the final decisions.
Procurement people are doing their job, but if an organisation is comfortable letting them purchase branding consultancy services, it betrays the organisation’s importance on such services.
By all means get procurement involved in the process, they have a key role within organisations. Just make sure that it’s balanced by having the team we’ll be working with involved at every stage of the process too.
Ask for the right information at the right point
From time to time when we get an initial inquiry, we’re asked to respond by agreeing to move forward and to supply detailed background about us. These requests can be over the top. Three years’ worth of accounts, insurance liabilities and copies of every single policy we have, from diversity through to sustainability.
Hang on… we’ve only just met!
Due diligence is key for businesses, and we respect that. And you’d think that we’d have a folder full of everything ready to go. But there are always subtle differences to satisfy each respective client and that always ends up creating busywork. And we don’t even know if we’re the right fit.
Let us at least have the chat to see if we’re going to be a good fit for this great challenge to overcome. If we feel that we’re even a close fit, we’ll happily supply you with everything you need. But let’s make sure that we’re progressing in the relationship positively rather than ticking boxes.
Set a budget range and share it
I once asked a potential client for the budget range that we would be working to. The client responded that if they told me the budget, we would spend it.
Yes, I said. Yes, we would. Because. It’s. The. Budget.
Here at Good, we pride ourselves on offering great value to our clients, but we know that we’re not the cheapest. We require a certain level of investment from our clients to produce the best work. If we know what budget range you’re working with it sends two signals:
Firstly, it shows respect from the client to the consultancy. It just frames the conversation on a commercial footing straight away.
Secondly, it helps us work out if we’re the right fit. If we can understand the budget we can understand the right way to work with you given our model. We can flex our approach, or we call it a day early on, letting you focus on other potential partners. It’s all good. Having that professional conversation about the budget is a sure-fire way to build a mutually respectful partnership moving forward, no matter the outcome of the initial inquiry.
In closing, we want to emphasise that the sale is the sample. The process is two way, the way we approach your inquiry is a good example of how we’ll approach your challenge. And the way you approach looking for a brand partner to help shape your business in future is shaped by the way you approach this vital stage in the process.
We’ve written other bits and pieces around this topic, Getting the best from your agency, How To Get The Best Out of a Rebranding Job, Do clients choose us or do we choose them? and How to buy design services. Let us know if you’ve got any questions.