I love process. I’ll admit it. I’m a total dork about it. The reason I love process for sales purposes is that clients want to know your success is repeatable. They don’t want to think that you hit on a great idea randomly ‘this one time at band camp.’ They like to see that you have a way of solving their problem that you’ve done before (which also makes it easier to sell). Now for the bad news. Every agency’s process is identical and treats every problem as if it is the same. They all go something like this – ‘first we find out your objective, then we get the insight, then we develop the big idea, then we come up with the tactics or touchpoints, then we implement, and then we measure.’ Not only does this illicit a big ‘no duh’ from your prospect along with an audible yawn, it also communicates that you don’t know the answer to his problem - when you actually do. This is a critical idea here, so stay with me. I was recently working with a large and venerable marketing firm that has been in business for over twenty years. They had done a few things over and over again for the vertical we were analyzing, including launching new products (literally hundreds over their history), repositioning older brands and stimulating trial. These were the three big problems their clients had brought them time and time again, but the process they showed to prospects was the same old, broken down, ‘one-size-fits all’ process their competitors were trotting out in a pitch. If I’m a prospect, why would I pay more for your agency if you’re going to use the same process as everyone else? And why don’t you already know the answer to my product launch problem? If you’ve been doing this for twenty years, haven’t you institutionalized some best practices? Haven’t you formed a specific ‘product launch process’ that is tailored and specific to my needs? Shouldn’t you already have a good idea of the tactics that will fall out of a product launch strategy (even if they vary based on my objectives, my audience and my budget?). This is what your prospect is thinking when you show them your generic process slide. Trust me on this, take your one-size-fits-all process slide out of every capabilities deck you use. Do it today. Do not pass go. Next, look at the problems you’ve been solving over time and develop custom processes for each solution based on what you actually did. Come up with the common tactics for that strategy (what worked the best over the years? what has worked best ‘post social media’?) and the variables associated with those tactics, so you have some packaged institutional knowledge, not just a process. This is what your clients want to buy, and it’s a powerful way to differentiate your agency from the pack and also get a prospect to speak with you outside an RFP exercise.

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