I tend to rail about the boorish behavior and mean-spirited treatment we’ve experienced at the hands of some prospective clients over the years. Typically, they involve prospects who demand a proposal within a very tight timeframe and then hang you out to dry. Or, others who pick your brain and then never respond to your inquiries about next steps. Then there are the clients who put the account up for review, tell you not to worry because the incumbent always has the advantage and then fire you.
that said, we can be just as dysfunctional as any prospect. We once so badly
mangled a new business opportunity that it’s actually become part of agency
prospect was based in the Midwest so we decided to have our New York and San Francisco offices 'co-own' the pitch. That was mistake number one. No one truly owned it
at all. Then, we had a few key people take vacations while the presentation was
being put together. That was mistake number two. Finally, we didn’t decide upon
the actual pitch team until the night before and never actually rehearsed. That
was the nail in the coffin.
the prospect was at least three connecting flights away from any major airport,
we opted to present by phone. Naturally, the technology froze. When we finally
got started, our ideas were met with stone-cold silence. The silence became
deafening. At one point, we asked, ‘So, what do you think of that idea?’ ‘We
tried it and it failed,’ they responded. Oh.
we presented a program theme based upon a classic rock song. We hadn’t done our
homework in order to find out another company was already using the same tune.
coup de grâce came when we presented an ‘out-of-the-box’
idea that involved having the product ‘show up’ at unexpected places (i.e. rock
concerts, sports stadiums, etc.). Again, silence. Finally, the prospect said,
‘You guys know that’s our competitor’s product on the screen, right?’ Game.
meeting went so poorly that we had to laugh afterwards. Then, we buckled down
and got serious. We installed a number of new processes to make sure we never
again took a lead so lightly. In these times, leads can be like gold
(especially if they’re serious leads). So, I think I can safely say we’re done
showing a competitor’s product in any future new business presentations.