Forthright and Ethical Agency Business Development

Forthright & Ethical

As in respected and proper behavior in the course of new client development. Interestingly, some industry spokespersons have decided it’s their responsibility to define “ethical” or “what’s proper” in new business development. Frankly, as has always been the case, unless it’s against the law, every agency has the right to operate as they see fit.  How you win or lose is your business unless or until you break the law. However, short of that, when a business model is flawed or when practices are deceptive, the perpetrator will ultimately be found and suffer the consequences of lost clients and lost revenue. Not to mention a tarnished reputation.

On that topic

Many agencies and PR firms depend upon a variety of new business practices to identify and approach prospects, and they do so to get face-to-face. But until the COVID-19 pandemic passes, that also includes Zoom and the like. Many agencies use in-house talent, but others turn outside to hire sub-contractors, often referred to as “lead generators”, a “new business agency”, “business development consultancy”, “new business consultancy” or just “outbound prospecting”.

Successful outreach programs

Whether in-house or outsourced, they generally incorporate an initial telephone call to a pre-screened prospect; then a sincere expression of desire to engage in meaningful dialogue on this and future occasions; the sharing of marketing thoughts and concepts that might apply; and the stated interest to “get-to-know” and “earn-your-trust.” The ultimate objective is that “first meeting.”

When done by agency personnel, the caller introduces themself by name, often including agency title, then agency name and city. In the course of that, or more typically after subsequent conversations, they suggest “since we’ve discussed concepts that might be helpful in your business, would it make sense for us to get together and meet?”  Most successful dialogues of this sort take place between prospect and the empowered business development director, someone who should and would attend such a meeting.

A Dubious Record for Honesty

Ironically, in an industry pollsters report already has a dubious record for honesty and integrity, some agencies hire outsourced firms that engage in deception from the onset. The caller uses an alias (not their real name) and implies employment at the agency for whom they are calling. (i.e – Good afternoon, this is Richard Alias with Thompson Advertising in Cincinnati, OH). The meeting they’re selling never includes themselves; they’re just selling appointments. “Dialing-for-dollars” as it were. If the client wants to return the call, they do so to an agency voicemail (alias name and all) established with full knowledge of agency management and complicit in the charade. Agencies naively declare they only pay $200 or so for an appointment. I mention we used to do the same, but our fee was $400. Why they would ask? Because we split the $400 with each client that agreed to such a meeting. 🙂 -(the mark of sarcasm)

Nothing Wrong with Outsourcing

There’s nothing wrong, but let’s lift the integrity of the industry by guaranteeing the outsourced caller identifies themselves precisely for what they are and what they seek to do.  (i.e. – Good afternoon, this is Richard Rightname with Appointments-R-Us; we’ve been engaged by Sunrise Advertising in Phoenix to help introduce them to great companies like yours that might be interested in their services) Clients will never object to that, and the honesty would be refreshing! However you handle business development, keep it forthright, ethical and clean!

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