A Guide to New Business in a Locked Down World
Everybody’s experience over the last month has been different. Various disciplines have come across different challenges depending on the exposure to particularly hard hit sectors.
More than ever, we are finding ourselves in an unknown environment trying to work from home and adapt to different circumstances. Every agency and client will be focused on specific priorities, but as we know - the new business machine stops for nothing.
In this time, it’s critical agencies have in place a clear and consistent approach to new business, communicating and engaging with clients and pitching.
Clear communication channels
Ahead of the pitch, outline a clear and agreed channel of communication for the client and the agency to use. Ask “which platforms do we share on?”, “what can everyone access in terms of documents?”, and “how should we communicate with each other to minimise email overload?”
All of us are using a whole range of channels and sharing sites, so it’s about making sure you agree with the client from the outset what everyone is happy with. This really came home to me last week when I was completing, and attempting to upload an RFP on my little laptop in a small room and getting bombarded with notifications from 11 different channels all at once. That’s a definition of insanity.
Focus on bringing the client into your world, make them feel engaged and show them what it would be like working/communicating with one another once you win the account.
Assign roles and responsibilities
Outline and agree defined key roles and responsibilities for the pitch team. This is important at the best of times but even more so now. It’s vital to have a moderator on the pitch call – there are simple ways of ensuring 10-plus people don’t all try to speak at once on the call, and a moderator is a useful way to control the conversation.
Be creative, have fun
Whether we admit it or not, in this new virtual world of ours, we love having a sneak-peek at other people’s houses when we’re talking to them. Use these spaces. Just as we all agonise over pitch theatre, try and think of creative ways to make the client feel you are all in the same room. There’s a role for the standard video conferencing background, but once you’ve got that nailed, have fun with it and explore the options. But as some of us may have experienced…. be careful not to screen freeze as a potato….
Be in touch with your humanity. It’s an extraordinary time, but everybody is in the same boat, so there’s an opportunity to bring personality and humour into what you present.
Embrace (tech) failure
Don’t be afraid of tech failure. Technology is unreliable at the best of times, but now with the added pressure on infrastructures you can be certain some glitches will surface. If it freezes, cuts off, the internet drops - be prepared, and don’t forget to breathe. It’s worth appreciating that uploading assets like RFPs onto portals with your home WiFI could take three or four hours longer than anticipated. It’s worth rehearsing again and again, whether uploading your RFP or documents, right through to multiple pitch rehearsals.
We are all in this equally—we are all navigating the balance of flexible working, pitching from home, maybe with kids running around or people to care for. It’s not easy to replicate the innovation and creativity that flows from a pitch team in a room when prepping, but this isn’t to say we can’t or aren’t unearthing new ways to collaborate and be creative. The new business process is a way to accelerate agile thinking and inventing approaches, on top of the new shared experience that’s uniting all of us.
Overall, try to remember - we’re not working from home, we’re trying to work from home amid a global pandemic. These are two very different things.