168 Things

Treat your prospects as customers and your customers as prospects

June 14, 2020 Paul Kitcatt and Chalice Croke Season 1 Episode 2
168 Things
Treat your prospects as customers and your customers as prospects
168 Things
Treat your prospects as customers and your customers as prospects
Jun 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
Paul Kitcatt and Chalice Croke

In this episode, we're talking about finding and keeping clients. There's the question of chemistry; we tell how a child helped create the My Waitrose logo; then there's dinner with Chalice; and the great agency tradition of making stuff up in the meeting. We also touch on the importance of listening - a theme we'll come back to in future podcasts.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we're talking about finding and keeping clients. There's the question of chemistry; we tell how a child helped create the My Waitrose logo; then there's dinner with Chalice; and the great agency tradition of making stuff up in the meeting. We also touch on the importance of listening - a theme we'll come back to in future podcasts.

Episode 2. 

Treat your prospects as customers, and your customers as prospects

 Paul Kitcatt: Today we're going to do number one in our series of podcasts having done number 55 as our starting point last time. Number one is for people who are looking - as we always are in creative marketing - for new clients. We would call them prospects. When we were doing that in the early days of Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw it occured to me that there was a rule we should apply. Which is treat your prospects like customers, and treat your customers like prospects. So let's dig into that. 

Chalice Croke: That's a really good rule, Paul, because prospects often come to the organisation because they already understand the experience and the services that are on offer - but they want to find out is what would it be like to work with those people.

Paul: Another thing that we always used to say was ‘people by people’  and I don't think that's an original thought, but it's very true.

Chalice: And chemistry meetings are commonplace, but as we know they can be quite formal or they can even be quite short.

Paul: Well, they used not to be as formal. They used to be real chemistry meetings where you’d get to know each other. And then somehow - and I think the intermediaries may have had a hand in this - they became more and more planned occasions. And you end up with a meeting where you show a whole load of PowerPoint slides. I remember emerging from one and the client actually hadn't said anything very much after hello. So we had no idea what they were like. They may have had an idea about what we were like but it was not really chemistry.

Chalice: Absolutely, and I've been a client service person and have been an account manager and a client partner but also for many years in my operational role I've been a customer. And I've always been interested to know how comfortable will I feel when I'm around these people – what are they like? How flexible might they be? And also how fun would it be? Because a working relationship isn't always just about work as we know.

Paul: Fun is important because if you’re going to pick up the phone and talk - if you don’t really like them or know them very well there's not much of an incentive to talk to them.

Chalice: No and it's important to keep it real because it's much easier if we can talk to people as people and the formality that comes into play sometimes kills the relationship.

Paul: Do you remember ‘The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin?’

Chalice: Kind of.

Paul: He had a very irritating brother in law who looked like a university lecturer from the Open University. And he used to say, ‘I’m a people person, Reggie – a people person.’

I want to talk about how treating your prospects like customers means not showing up in the most expensive clothes that you own, and boring the prospects to death with 80 different PowerPoint slides, and boasting about how brilliant you are - that is not the way to start a relationship and make yourself interesting and get to know someone, is it?  

Chalice: No. Everyone does that and it's very dull.

Paul: I've got a story here that I used to tell. People knew that we had Waitrose as a client (I'm moving forward a bit in time here) and they were always interested to hear about that. And we did have various case studies and they were great - but the story that always used to get prospects really interested was when I said, ‘do you have My Waitrose card?’ And they’d say yeah and quite often pull it out. And I'd say well, we launched MyWaitrose. We did the branding, we worked with the client on the idea – everything. And then we’d look at the logo which is an M and a W - and I’d tell them how it came about. The story is that John Shannon - brilliant art director - he was given the task of coming up with the logo. He covered his living room floor with sugar paper and he and his son spent the weekend making various different coloured sauces with chocolate and fruit and all sorts of things, and then dribbling it onto the paper in the shape of the M&W. And at the end of the weekend they’d come up with the logo that is now on every My Waitrose card that anyone has ever owned. And when I tell people that they always love it because they can see that here's somebody who's really involved with the brand - because Waitrose is very much about food, and he's done a lot of cooking to come up with the logo - and the idea of him crawling around on his living room floor with his son is just great - and it is exactly what happened. And that's a human story and then we can go on to tell them about the huge success of the MyWaitrose scheme - but the thing that they really love is that image of him and this six year old child dribbling sauce on paper.

Chalice: Yes, it’s a real story - it's wonderful. 

Paul: That to me is treating your prospects like customers, because you're just basically telling them stuff - having a chat - telling them interesting things. 

Chalice: And in the beginning we have a tendency to really express what it might be like with us in terms of service and how we might keep standards high. And without going into too much detail about governance and process - which is something as we all know I enjoy - we tend to really set the bar quite high in the beginning of prospecting and we often go above and beyond what we need to in order to sell the process and those kinds of aspects of a relationship. But people dynamics are massively important, and being real and talking to people in a real sense is terribly important. I remember going out for dinner with a prospective supplier and having a great time because we didn't talk about work at all. We talked about lots of other interests and it made for a far more dynamic relationship. It's these types of things that I think make prospect and customer relationships really important. 

Paul: I was going to say that if we think about treating your prospects like customers and your customers like prospects, the one thing that it seems to me happens all too frequently is when you're in front of a prospect you listen really hard to what they're saying because you want to try and understand what the problems are that they might be having, what they need, what they're not getting - and see if you can come up with solutions for them. And you listen actively. We've got a podcast about listening coming up later on in the series. But this is important, because what then happens is as you get more used to your client, or your customer, and the relationship becomes perhaps a little more stale and you start to perhaps take each other a little bit for granted, you don't listen as much as you used to. Obviously when people feel they're not being listened to it breeds some resentment. Then the next thing that happens is the client comes along and says you're not paying attention to me. I want this, I want that, I want the other - and then what agencies are quite inclined to do is make a load of promises. And they make them up on the spot, and they don't necessarily record what they are. And so a month later the client’s thinking, ‘Well they promised to do this, that, and the other, and they haven't done any of it. I now feel like I've got an agency who will say anything, promise everything, and do nothing.

Chalice: That's quite common. We’re very keen to demonstrate how we can add value and overall we’re enthusiastic people; but sometimes that can get us into a spot of bother with service levels.

Paul: Yes. It's called making up stuff in the meeting.

Chalice: Promising the moon on the stick and not delivering it. I think it's worth saying that we go to great lengths to establish a relationship and during the course of the relationship service levels slip sometimes due to things that are outside our direct control influence. And things like budgets change and it's common for the service to decline because there isn't enough budget to warrant the same amount of time input. And that is terrible mistake - because the relationship to begin with is often initiated off the back of a pitch or a prospect meeting, which can cost the agency thousands, and yet we'll find ourselves in a situation where the budgets are reduced, and we don't apply the same level of output during the course of a great relationship that we might do when we're trying to showboat and when a customer is new. My thought on this is that we should always be paying attention to service levels and we should always be continuing to demonstrate added value and we should always make sure the levels of standards are exactly the same during the course of the relationship as they were when we’re prospecting.

Paul: And if we were to translate that into a very simple action - a mantra as you called it at one time - treat your prospects like customers and your customers like prospects is something that people should be able to remember. But even simpler than that: listen. Listen to your prospects of course, because you’re trying to understand them; but continue to listen to your clients - your customers - and really pay attention to what they’re saying to you. Is that not the foundation of a good long term relationship?

Chalice: Absolutely.

Paul: In life as in business. 

Chalice: Absolutely.

Paul: That I think is the summary of that point. What do you reckon?

Chalice: I like it, Paul, thank you very much.

Paul: It's a pleasure. Well I hope people will take that away and find it useful. That was episode one or two of 168 things we've learned about creative marketing we think you'd find useful to know. We're going to be back with another one very shortly, and the topic for next time is ‘There are more questions than answers’, and those listening will know that is the title of a song. Who was the artist who recorded that song? Don't answer Chalice I know you know the answer - there’ll be a small prize for anyone who knows.

Chalice: What's the prize Paul? 

Paul: It's very, very small and there's only one. That will be for the first person to come with the correct answer. Right OK - see you next time.

Chalice: Thanks very much – bye.