More than for any other specialism, the First Client Meeting or New Business Meeting can be particularly challenging for Planners.
Account Handlers can communicate their excellence by being all organised, professional and empathetic. Creatives have their showreel and the option of a ‘challenging’ personal style statement to fall back on. Meanwhile the Account Planners have to first explain what they actually do for a living before they can even get round to convincing the new client that they’re rather good at it and will take good care of his or her brand.
I’ve had one new business prospect tell me mid pitch that all my insight slides were wrong as that’s not what the last customer focus group he watched said. At another pitch I resorted in the end to getting my portfolio of past work out to prove my credentials to a sceptical client.
By the way, Planners should never agree to present creative credentials to prospective clients as you’ll inevitably get asked to explain the strategy behind the one campaign that was heavily, erm, post rationalised and find yourself trying to talk your way out of a very big hole…
Its all very well saying that Account Planning is the best new business tool invented, but if the client doesn’t understand what you do and how you might be able help them, the first few meetings can be a wee bit tricky.
Perhaps the APG could do a bit more client focused PR to help us out? Or maybe we just need to embody all that is awesome, all the time :-)