I’ve recently been doing some work for a client that revolved around finding a new agency for a particular requirement.  It’s been fascinating being on the other side of the desk for a change.  And what an experience.

I did my own bit of due diligence around potential agencies and identified 6 candidates, my intention being to get creds/case studies from the 6 and shortlist to a maximum of 3 to pitch.  2 of the six we already knew, the other 4 we did not.  This is about those 4.

Once I finished identifying the 4 I contacted them via the forms on their websites.  I explained who I was, what i was doing, what I needed and just asked for someone to get in touch so we can discuss the requirements.  And then….

One responded that evening, an email from one of the Directors, I then got a call the next day and we then started to discuss the requirements, simple!

Another emailed me back the next morning.  This was the email:

Thanks for your email and interest in working with xxxxx. Can I ask how you heard about / came across our business?  Please can you send me a brief of what you’re looking for to see if it’s the type of project we can assist with?

This frustrated me straight away, 2 reasons:

  1. They seem more interested in how I found them than how they can help me? (There are plenty of opportunities to find that out later).
  2.  I said in my message that I would like to discuss requirements, so asking for me to send a brief made me feel like my message had not been read.

I responded saying I’d like to talk it through initially so would like a chat over the phone, which we arranged to do at 4.30 that day.  This was the subsequent message I got, in it’s entirety:

Great – call my mobile 0123456789 at/after 430pm.

Again, I am not precious about being the client and therefore expecting an agency to do all the running, however I did find this a little presumptuous.  I admit that I didn’t call, primarily out of interest re what would happen if I didn’t.  And guess what, nothing happened – no call nor another email.

So that was frustration enough, but what about the other 2 agencies I contacted?  I got no response whatsoever – didn’t hear a thing.  Who knows why, maybe the form on their website wasn’t working?  Or their internal systems weren’t?  Or they didn’t want or need the business?  All are possible, the last one is understandable, but the first two just are not.

One further intriguing development – we have Lead Forensics running on the website, and one of the two agencies that didn’t respond visited the site 2 days after I’d filled in their Contact Us form!  Coincidence? possibly, but highly unlikely.

Anyone who works in an agency will understand the importance and challenges of new business, and therefore inbound enquiries being a godsend – you’d have thought!

So, and this is not rocket science (at least I thought it wasn’t!), here’s a couple of tips having now been on the receiving end:
1.  Test your contact form regularly to make sure it is working.
2.  Make sure there is some sort of agreed and formalised process for checking and responding to new business enquiries, regardless of how they come on.
3.  Clients like reactive agencies, and love proactive ones – it’s not possible to demonstrate proactiveness just yet, but you can be reactive – so respond quickly.
4.  Speed is one thing, content is another – read what’s been asked for and get the best person possible to respond, that will make the first contact with the potential client meaningful, helpful and positive.
5.  Take the initiative – show your organisation skills and proactivity by confirming next steps via email, send a calendar invite for the next call/meeting, connect on LinkedIn etc.