I've been racking what's left of my brain to find a suitable topic to match one of my favorite John Lennon lyrics: 'Living is easy with eyes closed.' Then, it struck me. The words are a perfect description of serial prospects.
Serial prospects are like serial killers. They stalk agencies, tempt them with some sort of offer (i.e. new business) and then leave them in tatters.
Three serial prospects upended our agency in the first quarter. All three asked for full-blown creative proposals, in-person presentations and meeting the specific account team with whom they'd work. All three have subsequently gone silent. Some claimed that key decision-makers were on vacation (Man, that's my kind of vacation). Others said they were still weighing their decision (How many months does it take to choose an agency?). Then, there was the one who simply didn't respond to our follow-up inquiries. Nice.
Living is easy with eyes closed, especially when one is in the power position. These are heady times for serial prospects. They can dangle RFPs, pick at many brains as they like, select the best ideas and then go away on an extended vacation.
Another Lennon lyric from 'Strawberry Fields' comes to mind when thinking of serial prospects: 'It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out.' We agency types move on and, somehow, it does all work out. But, how do serial prospects live with themselves?
I hope for their sakes they hang onto their jobs. Because, if I happen to see one of their resumes float across my desk, I just may play the role of serial prospect employer. And, that would be a hard day's night for some unsuspecting serial prospect.
I’d add ‘….and life in general,’ Flackman. Thanks.
I totally agree, Ted. Just yesterday, we received a ‘Dear agency’ form letter from one serial prospect we’d pitched back in March. It was crystal clear they’d simply cut-and-pasted our name into the body of the letter. Not only that, the lead prospect’s signature was clearly one of those fakes you find in form letters. I’d really like to ‘out’ the more egregious serial prospects before they hurt other agencies down the road.
Many people dread conflict of any kind. Delivering bad news is so difficult for them that they tend to avoid it at all cost. I see this in both my business and personal lives.
All I ask for is transparency. I can handle bad news and I value anyone who is able to deliver it in a productive and compassionate way.
Serial prospects are not limited by size. They use and abuse. They are just part of the general degradation of professionalism and courtesy in business.