How Well Does Your Agency Handle Rejection?


New Business in the Agency game is a very tough road.  It is a game comprised largely of rejection if you are in a pitch with other agencies.  That is why that is not the optimum way of getting New Business. I know.  I have hunted for New Business all my life.  I am a consultant and have to create my job each and every day.  My dinner comes from what I win. There is no time in my life to coast.

I have also had the pleasure of conducting agency reviews for a number of clients including Jenny Craig, Jacuzzi, Toyo Tires and many other companies.

I have already written on Why I Don’t Like Agency Reviews.  I love doing reviews.  I love the buzz.  The adrenalin.  The chase.  The best clothes.  The best shoes.  But and it is a big But I don’t like to make the call to the finalists who don’t move on.  I chose my words carefully.  My job isn’t to bring agencies that aren’t qualified to the game. That doesn’t lead to good word of mouth.

In the end it is a very very close call and nobody is a loser. Just like the athletes in the Olympics who don’t win a medal. Not that losing is an easy thing.

In the Olympics three people get a medal.  In an agency review only one agency wins.

Nobody likes rejection in business or in our personal lives. But it happens.  Then again the measure of a person and agency is how they handle rejection and I have seen countless responses from the absurd to admiration and respect.

Those make me admire them make me want to make sure I stay in touch with them for future opportunities even more.  But then again only if they are a fit.  I don’t want to waste their time or mine.

Agencies respond in a variety of ways.  Some say hey I appreciate you including me.  Let’s stay in touch.

Others go around me and contact the client and ask for to a meeting.  The client generally shares their outreach with me.  The agency talks about the one card they had in the game that they think is a full deck.  What they think is an Ace the client has already dismissed but everybody wants to be polite.

A quick question for you?  Would I include that agency in future reviews?  You may think no but I would but only if they could play a full hand.  You see I don’t get too excited during a review.  I have my job to do. As Van Morrison said.  I am just a working man.

But would I trust them?  You make the call.

I have also had clients send me emails from losing agencies that went to their boss. They claimed to be overlooked. They profess to be the best fit and that the process was faulty and cite other excuses. They remind me of people chasing after a bus they have missed.

They just made a fatal mistake. What do they think would be the outcome of their outreach?  What if their boss mandated chose this agency.  Would that make for a wonderful client agency relationship?  The agency would be marrying into a divorce.

Would I ever include that agency in a review?  You make the call.

You can call Hank at 949-300-3266

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook:


You may also enjoy this article on Why Finding An Agency is Not an Easy Task.


3 thoughts on “How Well Does Your Agency Handle Rejection?

  1. I’m a pretty competitive guy; always have been. As you may imagine, it’s very difficult for me to accept a new business loss or not be shortlisted. However, I have a basic questionnaire which I send out and politely ask to be completed. It provides me with a full evaluation of the agency’s performance during the process and I use the insightful answers toward constructively improving our agency and future proposals/presentations.

  2. Russell M Kern

    I read your emails regularly. They are honest and well done. Thank you for your candid comments. I use them as a guide post for many of our business development strategies. Please keep them coming.

    Warmest Regards,
    Russell Kern


    Russell M. Kern
    main: 818.703.8775 ext 215
    mobile: 818.264.8480

    Please note my new email at KERN:
    Also check out our new site at

    From: “”, New Business & Agency Searches <>
    Reply-To: “Hank Blank: Thoughts on Networking, New Business & Agency Searches” <>
    Date: Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 7:12 PM
    To: Russell M Kern <>
    Subject: [New post] How Does Your Agency Accept Rejection?

    Hank Blank posted: “New Business in the Agency game is a very tough road. It is a game comprised largely of rejection if you are in a pitch with other agencies. That is why that is not the optimum way of getting New Business. I know. I have hunted for New Business all my “

  3. I see a strong parallel here with the recruiting industry and the practice of clients trying to “back door” job candidates to avoid paying large commissions to search firms. In the age of information (and the New Normal), clients are typically finding their vendors…not the other way around, but it begs the question: “with so much information and so many agencies (or people) that seemingly do the same thing, how do I know who to pick?”

    My point: hiring a seasoned expert with intimate knowledge of the competitive landscape to cut through the clutter and find the right agency (or employee) is worth the price. Cutting corners, burning bridges, and alienating partners (like Hank) to win business in the short term isn’t sustainable.

    As Zig said, “If people like you, they’ll listen to you. But if people trust you, they’ll do business with you”.

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