Ok here’s the deal…you’ve been advised that you have made the selection cut. It is down to three companies trying to win the account. We heard your first pitch and that of your competition…now you are being told it is yours to win or lose. It is a head to head competition…gut check time. Seize the opportunity.
What’s next…here’s some ammunition to help you win the biz.
Advice from Both Sides of the Fence
I’ve spent 11 years of my career working on the client side and 14 years of my career on the vendor side. Most recently I have returned as the client…and we have just awarded a large website project to a firm who did everything right in earning the business. And they did it with class, patience and the willingness to invest in the relationship.
How Do You Win that Six to Seven Figure Website Account
Well pull up a chair…I’m about to tell you exactly how to do it. From a guy who has been on the winning side of earning this type of account more then a few times and from a guy who has had the pleasure of awarding this type of an account; I thought I’d throw you a bone or two. I’ve got a little advice for those of you who are out there each and every day trying to close that big deal for your company.
The Best Want the Best
Most companies don’t have this kind of money to spend on an endeavor like this very often even if they are a great organization. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come often for the client or for you. First things first, remember they want you or you never would have got the call to present and bid. When an organization elects a team to go out and seek the right partners these individuals are putting their jobs on the line. They have a job to spend the organizations money wisely. So trust me when I say they are seeking you. They know who you are and have researched your organization. So the best brands want to work with the best digital brands.
Don’t Teach me Web 2.0
Never underestimate the knowledge of your audience. If I tell you that you will be presenting to a sophisticated audience for your presentation don’t try to show me that you know more than the audience. Tell me you are equipped to do it…tell me how you are going to do it. Don’t teach me something out of a Web 2.0 book. We already get that. What we need to know is that you took the time to figure out where you can make us better.
Put Some Skin in the Game
It’s not easy to earn money…you need to work for it. You’re not vying for a 100k job. Don’t show me the same thing you would show an account one fifth or one tenth the scale and size. In this case sports fans…you need to spend money to make the money. Is it a risk? Of course it is. But it’s a risk for me to hire you as well. This is business. So…you need to put some skin in the game. Be prepared to go above and beyond. Be prepared to put it all out there and do the research, analyze my current site, tell me what you can do over the other guy. Because believe me they are doing it.
It’s an Investment for You and I
My career is on the line hiring you. And your career is on the line earning my business. I have to go back to my board of directors or executive leadership and answer to them. I have to tell them that this project is right for the company, right for our audiences, and right to spend the money. I want you to want to showcase this project to all of your future clients.
The Yankees and the Red Sox
The best are going to go up against the best. So how bad do you want to win? Imagine you are on national television you are being seen by millions of viewers…so your reputation is on the line. Keep it real …play hard…play fair…play like there is no tomorrow. I’ve got to know you want it. If you play this game like you do a Tuesday night game in June it won’t sell with me. This is the stretch run you’re in the playoffs…one game away from the big show.
We’re Not Playing Poker…Show Your Cards.
Don’t sell me. I’ve already walked onto the car lot to buy. I want you. So wow me with new ideas that apply to me and my audience. I know you can do it and that you have done it for others. But I don’t know how you will do it for my organization. I don’t expect you to give me all of your ideas nor do I expect you to know exactly how you are going to do it. But I do need to see how learnings will apply to me. What I mean by this is I don’t know how your team communicates…I don’t know the detail on the type of process you use or the type of project management tools you use. I need to see them my team is going to have to work with your tools to make us all successful. And I need to see you have the thinking to elevate my audiences web experience vs. my competition in the marketplace.
Humility vs. Arrogance
Humble not slick. Passionate not cocky. Confident not arrogant. If you’re not asking me a lot of questions from each key member of your team (SEO, Analytics, Development, UX, IA, Creative) then I figure you think you know all there is to know about me. You know it all…you’re arrogance has won. If I keep asking you… are there any more questions you have for me or members of my team…I’m telling you you aren’t asking the right questions. And I am feeling like you don’t care enough to want it. And perhaps you don’t need to know me or build the relationship. The wise man asks questions. You are building my house for my family and friends. I know you know how to build a house. But how on earth do you know the experience I want for those visiting my home?
It’s an Investment
I want you to grow your business with our relationship. I want to be your case study. I don’t care about awards. I want you to be proud of me and share our experience to help others. I want to be best in class. I want to exceed anything proceeding us in my industry. Period. And I want you to carry my flag high and proud for other to see. And I want to do the same for you. I want to recommend you to other. I want them to know that quite frankly YOU ROCK.
A New BMW or a Brand New Ford
Ok you’re off buying a new car so what’s the difference between purchasing a new BMW or a new Ford…they are both new cars. You can buy both models for the same price. But one manufacturer is selling a car and the other is selling an experience. I know BMW has great engineers and state of the art technologies to offer me and so does Ford. I expect this. But what separates the men from the boys is the driving experience. This BMW has mastered. There’s a difference in being a leader and a follower.
Don’t Over Charge…Take Charge
The NY Yankees built a new stadium and tried to get fans to pay a ridiculous price per seat. So what happened when they overcharged for their greed. People stayed home. Seats still remain empty. The owners will have to take charge…and access a fair price to regain their following. You best do the same when earning that business. Take charge…blend rates and make adjustments. Win the business. I’m not responsible for paying for your overhead. Keep it fair and over time this relationship will be fruitful. Keep your rates transparent and I will be loyal to you. Be fair. Be sharp. No hidden fees.
Booty for Booty
These opportunities don’t come a knockin everyday. You’re going to have to go streaking across the stadium. If you are not willing to let me know that you will expose all for the account then why should i trust you with all that coin?
It’s My Brand as Well as Your Brand
It’s my brand. This is my biggest touchpoint to the world. Respect this…stay within my brand guidelines. Be my brand advocate and steward. My brand is a promise to my audiences…you now are carrying this flag…don’t drop it. I am passionate about it and so should you be. Once you join me your brand is on the line as well.
As Natalie Merchant liked to sing…Give Them What They Want.
It’s always important to give the client exactly what they ask for…regardless of how small it may seem to you or your team. If I ask you for something I am testing to see if you are listening. If you can’t give me what I want when you are trying to win the account…do you think I will have faith you will give me something when you don’t need to earn it? In a bidding process you’re running a mile so you need to know when to pull away from the rest of the pack. Ask the client where you are in the process. Don’t be afraid to ask for more. To offer up more. To ask for additional one on ones with key players. For instance if you feel you aren’t getting your point across on certain advantages you hold. Provide it or ask if you can submit more information to solidify your case. Follow the rule of engagement. But there’s nothing that says you can’t ask for more. If you don’t ask you won’t advance.
Sell me What I Need
It’s my house. I don’t need the swimming pool just because you figured out how to build one. Offer up ideas. Do what you do best. Offer the services you are confident to support. But don’t sell me something I don’t need or that doesn’t apply to my audience just because it’s cool.
Bring your “A” Team
I want to know who I’m going to be working with day to day. I want to know that you are not one swine flu bug away from stalling my efforts or project timeline. I need to know you have a deep bench. I also need to know if a personality or two isn’t working out on the account that we can transition the person without any animosity. Let me know the percentage of time that I will be engaged with key players on your team. I’m reasonable…I understand that you have rock stars and that they bill differently. But that’s your issue to resolve…all I want to know is when and how long I have them as a resource. Relationships are key. Personality is key. Remember for the most part this is a professional service offering. Whatever you do…do not bate and switch. That will be the kiss of death.
Social Conscience is Real
It’s no longer a tree hugging concept. Work this into the play. Whether it is a green initiative or a global health initiative … it’s worth it for all of us. The worlds best brands are starting to figure out that the world is bigger then they are…so they are waking up and smelling the coffee. Be prepared to respond to global issues for your client. Be prepared to offer up new ways of thinking…even if they are not ready for them…they will appreciate your foresight.
Speak my Language
Understand my industry. If you don’t understand it … do not act like you do. Be open and honest of your level of understanding; I will see right through you if you don’t. If your selling to a Quaker you better act like a Quaker. Understand my culture. Speak to me as though you are a part of this culture. If I talk like I’m Amish keep the four letter words at the golf course. CPG, Healthcare, Pharma, Retail are not the same. I want you to bring in learning’s from other industries even better…I’ll listen to them…but make sure you don’t ignore my industry.
Finally…for those of you who feel this type of diligence or advice isn’t necessary to win that big account. You probably weren’t selected for that very reason.
Remember the key differentiators…collaboration is real this is a partnership, listen to what I am asking, pay attention to detail, transparency is truth, know and understand my business, I know you know what you’re doing or I wouldn’t be wasting my time listening to you, we want you to win the account or you wouldn’t be in the final three, ask questions and more questions and more questions.
As Senator Marcy was quoted as saying, back in 1832… “to the victor belong the spoils”
Coming soon at a blog near you…
“So I followed all of your advice why did I still lose the business?”