Tricks of the marketing trade

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New Business Bites: 5 hacks to get from chemistry to conversion

The Drum Network’s new business bites series aims to divulge bite sized pieces of wisdom for agencies in gaining new business. New business is always at the top of the agenda for most of the 30,000 agencies in the UK, but is there enough new business for all of them? New Business Bites is here for small to medium sized agencies to gain some tips in winning new clients and building their pipeline. Bites are provided by new business connoisseurs. This week, Louise Hedges, head leader at Hownow Consulting, takes a step back from the pitch process to explore hacks into converting and creating opportunities from chemistry meetings.

New business chemistry meetings can be challenging for any agency to approach successfully; while there’s no sure-fire way of guaranteeing these initial meetings will lead to work, there are ways to help steer the conversation towards a positive outcome for your business and that is by focusing on a great outcome for the client:


Prepare for the chemistry meeting and approach it from the client’s perspective. Ensure what you say is 100% relevant to them and be prepared to suspend your agenda at the drop of a hat. When you do describe your agency, do so in the context of the client’s situation and challenges.


Negotiate an agenda – After personal introductions ask what they hope to get out of the meeting and be explicit that your goal is to discover if you can add value to them. Practice this critical 2-minute intro until it becomes natural and instinctive. Don’t just assume they want to hear about you and your agency – ask first.

Avoid using credentials

Unless they insist they want examples of your approach and work, keep your laptop or visuals in your bag. If you do use credentials, remember their sole purpose is to motivate your potential client to engage in a conversation about their issues. It shouldn’t be a self-orientated speech about how many awards you’ve won. If they do want to know about your work tell a concise but rich story about how you help clients and how this relates to them. Demonstrate your credibility, not your ego.


Once you have motivated the potential client to open up, listen with all of your different intelligence types – emotional, intellectual, interpersonal, logical, etc. Be generous in your immersion in their issues, and use your knowledge of the client and their sector to ask truly great questions that enhance their own depth of thinking.

Offer guidance

Once you know whether or not you can help, summarise and suggest a next step to explore things in more depth. Ensure your suggestion has intrinsic value to the client. This could mean meeting another stakeholder, working on some ideas for them, or doing some further research. Be sure to frame the next step as a quid pro quo: You will invest time on the thinking and they invest half an hour to talk about it with you. Whenever possible, get your diary out and pencil in the second meeting then and there.

Although chemistry meetings will not always lead to work, following guidelines and putting yourself in the shoes of the client is guaranteed to make you relatable, put you both at ease and leave the client walking out of there knowing you did everything you could to get them on their feet.

Alongside The Future Factory, Louise will deliver a ‘Chemistry to Conversion’ training session on Tuesday the 5th July. To book or for more details, email Kimi Gilbert or visit the training section of the website. She’ll also be speaking at The Future Factory’s next breakfast session on 9th September.

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