The Questions Agencies Ask in New Business Really Don’t Matter.


I am lucky to have a unique perspective because I began my career working on New Business at agencies in Canada and here in the U.S. In the past few years, I  have also conducted agency reviews for a number of companies including Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Boch, and Raley’s Supermarkets and a variety of smaller companies.

I often asked the same questions when I was on the agency side.  Now that I get to sit on the other side of the table I know they don’t matter too much.

What is the order of the agency presentations?

Agencies tell me that if they present at the beginning or the middle of the pack they won’t be memorable or be forgotten.

If that is the case, their presentations aren’t very strong. They basically don’t believe in their pitch. I have seen the routine one size fits all Capabilities presentation served up by agencies and they are right they aren’t very memorable.

I have also walked into a room where every wall was covered with observations, words, visuals, photos and I have watched the client look around the room anxious to learn more with a smile on their face anticipating the promise of solutions that can move their business.

Who are the other agencies that are going to be presenting?

Why does that matter?  If you are a small or mid size agency and I share that a larger agency is in the pitch will you hire some actors to be employees that day to look bigger.  By the way I have heard of some agencies that have hired people for the day to fill empty seats.

It is not your size but the surprise of your ideas that matter.

What are our chances?

When I hunted for agencies people at the agency would come up to me and ask me, “What are our chances?”  If four agencies were involved I would tell them 25%.  They walked away disappointed.  You can do all the internal rah rah rah you want but New Business is a game of rejection and low probability.  The key is to increase your odds.

How do you do that?  Treat the prospect like a client. The more times you talk to them, think about their business, visit their stores, eat their stuff, connect with their connections on Linkedin, send them pertinent stuff the better it will be.

What Questions Should Agencies Ask?

Hey if they Google us what will they see?  Is our thought leadership prominent?

Is this a good time to do a press release about our agency that will populate Google tomorrow if you electronically optimize it?

Are we connected with any of the people that are coming on Linkedin?

Is this a low probability pitch or a good fit for us?

How involved is the prospect on social media and what content do they push out? If they are more robust on social media than your agency I would probably not recommend social media in your pitch?

Does every person in the agency know we are pitching them so we potentially find more touch points?

Do you live, breath and think about their business?

Have you rehearsed three days before the pitch and then the day before?

New Business isn’t about questions.  New Business is about passion, insight, and providing unpredictable solutions for clients.

Hank Blank frequently speaks to AAF Chapters on Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business and to many organizations and companies on Networking Your Way to New Business. You can contact Hank at He has two CD’s on his new site about New Business development process that many have found helpful.



3 thoughts on “The Questions Agencies Ask in New Business Really Don’t Matter.

  1. Thanks Hank for the reminder. Seems like people continue to hang on to the old agency model and myths. We are a small agency who decided to participate in an RFP because we knew that no one could match our franchise expertise. As a result we won the branding and launch of the Chevron Extra-Mile Convenience Store brand! Passion is the secret.

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