New Business Lessons from Madison Avenue (Revisited) — Cleve Langton

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Cleve Langton — Author

I wrote a book on new business in 2008 and I’ve conducted a number of seminars each year since based on the tenets outlined in the book. I’m often asked what’s changed in the new business principles in the ten-plus years since I wrote it. Obviously the effect of digital has had a dramatic impact of the strategy and content of new business presentations but has had very little influence on what makes or breaks a wining presentation. Basically, human nature drives reaction to people and presentation style — that has not changed a wit because of digital. Where time has changed things a lot is in the approach to prospecting.

Cold calls and cold emails where always more “feel good” actions done to make sure you got the word out there.

But today, they are a total waste of time. Ghosting has become standard practice and ways of testing alternative prospecting approaches and messaging have become much more difficult because responses rates are insignificant across the board.

What has not changed is the importance of “bait” that is valuable — content that is “need to know” vs.”nice to know.” Insights or research findings that have a direct impact on the prospect — professionally or personally — still have a good shot at being opened.

They have to be summarized and be totally relevant to the prospect’s industry or job function. Attendance at events are up but,again, only those that are narrow-focused and audience-tailored gain traction. Interestingly “free” events are as worthless as ever. General knowledge is not seen as worth the time to open it or attend it.

What has also evolved is that presentations in Singapore, Sao Paulo, San Francisco or Stockholm are looking much more consistent in content, and in the sophistication of the presentation format and style. Every region is now very savvy and competes on a level playing field.

So what are the elements that are immutable and have not changed? These include:
1) Not pre-qualifying an account i.e. going after an account that’s not a perfect fit.
2) Waiting too long to developthe strategy at the expense of the creative development
3) Not having a strong pitch captain who is empowered to call the final shots. Reciprocally, not having team members who are conscripted vs opting-in and really committed
4) Giving credentials more than five minutes no matter how long thepresentation is. It’s about them, the client, not about you.
5) Showing your “best” case histories vs, the most relevantones. If the client can’t relate to the industry or problem, the case is a waste of time.

Bottom line is that content has changed but the key influencers on winning or losing have notchanged much.

Cleve Langton
Author ‘New Business LessonsFrom Madison Avenue’

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