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SAGA Newsletter: Agencies should ask every prospect this one question

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You book a call with a prospective client for your agency. When the time comes, you chit-chat for a bit about the weather or something else innocuous.

Then you launch into telling them all about yourself and your agency.

Or perhaps you have been coached to talk less and listen more so you start with: “how can I help you?”

What if I told you there’s a question that most of you aren’t asking that will dramatically improve your ability to find (and land) right-fit clients?

I’ll explain more a bit later in this week’s newsletter, but first let’s take a look at Jen’s weekly roundup.

— Chip Griffin, SAGA Founder

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Weekly Roundup

Below are some articles, blog posts, podcasts, and videos that we came across during the past week or so that provide useful perspective and information for PR and marketing agency owners. While we don’t necessarily endorse all of the views expressed in these links, we think they are worth your time.

— Jen Griffin, SAGA Community Manager

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AI in Focus

Agencies should ask every prospect this one question

In conversations with prospective clients, it’s easy to get caught up in talking about all the great work that your agency does and how fabulous your team is.

But the truth is that we should be taking advantage of our first call with prospects to learn more about them and spend less time walking through our capabilities and case studies.

Maybe you have already heard that advice, so you take that to heart and ask prospects “how can I help?” to get the conversation started.

That’s better than shouting “me! me! me!” for the first 10 minutes, but it’s not ideal.

When you ask a prospect how you can help, you have set the right tone from the standpoint of putting their needs first, but it’s a bit like a doctor asking a patient that same question. Chances are they will hear, “Doc, I need a prescription for [fill in the blank with whatever drug has the most TV advertising right now].”

Obviously, that’s not the way most doctors work and it isn’t what you should do either.

With agency prospects, we can learn from this and tease out their real needs — but not by asking directly.

A prospect might come to you saying that they need a new website, but perhaps what they really need is new positioning or simply better promotion of their existing site. You won’t know this if you readily accept their initial self-diagnosis and request for a website proposal.

So how do you get there? Ask this one question: “What brings us here today?”

Of course, there’s a good chance that you will hear “because I need a new website.”

So that’s why you need to dig deeper. You need to get to the root answer of that question. What was the precipitating event that made this enough of a priority to take time for a call — and why did they decide to talk with you.

Chances are there was some internal conversation that led up to requesting or agreeing to the call. 

Maybe they saw some sales numbers and didn’t like what they saw so they’re scrambling to find the answer. Or perhaps the CEO saw media coverage of a competitor or checked out their website and felt that his own company should be doing better.

Your goal in asking — and following up on — this one question is to better understand:

  • What outcome are they looking for? (And no, a website or press release is not an outcome)
  • Why now?
  • Why you?

The answer to the question of why they booked the call helps you to better understand their true motivation as well as their expectations.

This helps you to offer a better solution — or to let them know that you can’t meet their expectations.

Too often we act like order takers because we are focused on winning the business. We think that we need to avoid making waves and keep prospects smiling so that we can get a signature.

When selling your agency’s services, your goal should not be the sale. It should be determining the right fit.

You can’t do that only by talking about the future, you need to explore the journey that brought the prospect to you in the first place. You need to understand the symptoms and explore the prospect’s desired outcomes.

If we move away from talking about our capabilities and accomplishments and steer prospects away from self-prescribing solutions, we will find the best clients for our agencies.

Try asking “what brings us here today?” in your next prospect meeting. I think you’ll like the results.

Webinar: Don’t repeat my biggest mistakes as an agency owner

As an agency advisor, Chip Griffin spends a lot of time trying to help clients avoid the same mistakes that he made as an owner.

In this webinar, he will dig into some of the biggest mistakes he made over the years so that you can benefit from the insights into his own failures.

Chip will explain what he did wrong and how he would have handled the situations differently if he encountered them today.

If you share Chip’s belief that there is more to learn from failure than success, this will be an excellent educational opportunity for you.

This event will be on Wednesday June 12 from 12-1 PM ET, and you can register here.

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