I was intrigued to read Adrian Shaughnessy’s rather disparaging comments on modern selling strategiesâ€š (his words not mine) in his piece Blow your own trumpet (DW 6 May).
I agree, cold calling and direct mail have a bad reputation, and can be intrusive. But that’s the case with anything if it’s done badly. Cold calling can work if you are prepared to do the groundwork, and that’s simple. Find out who in the company you need to talk to and talk to them, preferably about their business and what they need to achieve. If they agree to see you, your credentials presentation might be stunning, but if you are not focusing on their needs then forget it. They won’t be listening.
Shaughnessy also mentions getting on pitch lists as a measure of new business success. Ok, so it might mean you’re moving in the right direction, but coming second is not new business, no matter how many ways it is sliced and diced. The same goes for awards: great to receive and pretty on reception walls, but again, not new business.
No one’s saying new business is easy and I understand where Shaughnessy’s coming from. But a new business strategy is vital for 90 per cent of design consultancies, and to dismiss various techniques as desperate is not helpful. In fact, many sales tactics will come up trumps if applied with a little brainpower. I suspect that the reticence of those in the design world to demean themselves by actually admitting to selling plays a part here.
Talking of strategies, adding new business to everyone’s job title is not one that should be pursued. It’s fantastic if your employees are behind the company and keep an eye out for opportunities. But in reality, no one has the time and will end up leaving it to the person sitting next to them, even with high incentives.
If you want new business be prepared to try everything, but talk to the right people at the right time about their business. Oh and have a proper strategy.
Exeter EX5 1AG