The advertising agency I’d joined was the most competitive and ambitious in London. Building business was hardwired into every one of us. Competition with other internal teams was part of the process. Jumping to the top of the queue above other teams for the next new business prospect gave us more opportunities for winning new business. We were trained to present, to sell, and sell again and again. And I was desperate to succeed.
Failure could be challenging. Our creative teams could be fearsome to deal with. Emotions ran high — sometimes way too high, with unpleasant consequences.I planned to stay for a year or so. But twelve years passed quickly, and I ended up running a big group. The rewards for those of us who succeeded were good, but I wanted more.
I took a big, big risk and started a breakaway agency with seven colleagues. With a full team and a great office in the center of London, we had a stupidly large overhead from Day One. We also had no client and no income. We had to sell to survive. Every single opportunity, every new business prospect, however small, was critical. Our family houses, the school fees, the grocery bills and everything we owned depended on winning business.
We were good — mostly, very good. Even if we lost a new business pitch, we didn’t give up. Sure, this irritated some prospects, but mostly they appreciated our hunger.
Every idea had to be sold and nurtured. Every opportunity, however small, exploited. Our lives and our families depended on it. And at the end of the first year, we broke even. Our bankers were so amazed they threw us a private lunch to celebrate.
Then times got edgy. We had big debts. We restructured, redoubled our efforts and focused harder on winning business. We survived — and produced some outstanding work.
After years and years of selling the agency to prospects, to staff, stakeholders and selling work to clients, I realized something. I was dog tired. I was exhausted from filling the leaky bucket of revenue over and over again. I knew it was time to merge my agency and get out. I stopped selling.
New Business. No Selling
After a stint at business school, I was back in business, but this time, on my own. I had no website and no name plate on my office. I was invisible, and I didn’t sell. I just told past clients and colleagues what I was planning and doing.
For four months, the phone was quiet. Then it rang. I met with the prospect — and instead of selling and telling him about my offer, I just asked questions about his company and what problems required attention. I checked the size, importance and cost of those problems.
He was interested in working with me, and I was interested in working with him. I wrote a two-paragraph summary of how to tackle the issues and added a price range. It was large and provided good value.
And the phone continued to ring, despite no website, no marketing, no sales activity, and no long submissions. I refused to write submissions – only one-page outlines. I just asked questions.
Really. No Selling.
A few years later I co founded The Client Relationship Consultancy. Again: no website, no marketing, no selling. I met with past colleagues and explained our philosophy. We made them sign a two-way NDA — we would never talk about them, and they would never talk about us.
But they wanted to work with us. As clients moved to new agencies, the word spread and we got more calls. These new prospects wanted credentials presentations. I explained that I would tell them about our business for less than sixty seconds, and about our philosophy and approach for four minutes. At that point, if they did not agree with our approach, we could cut short the meeting and I might be able to suggest others who could be a better fit for them. But no one ever said that. And we still had a two-way NDA.
We never chased after a meeting. If I thought a prospect would not be right for us, I would decline their business. Occasionally, existing clients wanted to do things differently. If whatever they suggested failed to meet our philosophy, we refused to work with them.
I loved this new way of carrying out business. I felt re energized. And our clients stuck.
To my business partners’ intense irritation, I refused to set annual targets. I did not want to feel that I needed to sell. But over sixteen years, our business grew and grew — to offices and consultants in London, Windsor, Boston, Mexico, Munich, Singapore and Sydney. Still no website. Still no new business or marketing activity. Still a two-way NDA.
Why It Worked
Why did this approach work? Not having objectives for sales, and not selling, meant that I had a powerful position, equal to that of a prospective client. I could relax. As a result, so could the client. We were able to have adult to adult conversations. The prospective clients became less defensive, and more open to me. They were comfortable disclosing deeper, underlying issues.
Both parties had the opportunity to ensure that the ‘fit’ between was tight. Both sides had the chance to ensure that our beliefs were in synch. The result: long-term, enduring relationships, and no leaky buckets anywhere.
How to Create a Company Culture That Motivates Entrepreneurship
Professor Howard Stevenson from the Harvard Business School states, “maintaining an effective culture is so important that it, in fact, trumps even strategy.” But the question arises how to create a company culture that inspires motivation and innovation from employees? Searching for such a culture, many leave an old-school corporate environment. (more…)
15 Ways to Become a More Successful Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are go-getters who strive to succeed no matter how challenging the situation is. They find paths no one sees or build one where none exist by using their creativity and perseverance. However, even they struggle sometimes, and it is good to seek guidance from reliable sources during these times. (more…)
Why All Successful Entrepreneurs Have MBAs: Mentors, Believers, Advocates
There’s no such thing as a “self-made” business owner. The mere notion of the self-made man — someone who came from nothing, had a big idea, exploited it entirely on his own, and now has it all — is mostly an American myth. (more…)
What I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur and Why You Should Take Notes
As a young entrepreneur, I am constantly underestimated. When people look at my age or appearance, consider the fact that I’m not even old enough to have graduated college, or refuse to believe me when I say I own a 7-figure business (seriously, Google is free!), I honestly feel a bit lucky. I’m reminded that, because I’m so young, I have plenty of years ahead of me to grow, learn, and develop even more entrepreneurship skills that will enable me to make a difference. (more…)
3 Things Snoopy and the Third Grade Taught Me About Success
15 Leadership Lessons From the World’s Top Female Founders
Ego Contributes to Your Success and Failures
The Secret Formula for Real Financial Success
Be Like Water: 3 Martial Arts Lessons for Negotiation
55 Inspirational Quotes That Will Change Your Life
(Images) 52 Motivational Picture Quotes For An Epic Year Of Success
30 Famous Quotes That Will Inspire Success In You
40 Rare Motivational and Inspirational Picture Quotes
72 Positive Thinking Quotes For More Inner Strength & Growth
3 Prince EA Videos To Change Humanities Path To Greatness
(Video) What Is Success? An Entrepreneurial Story To Inspire You
(Inspirational Video) What If Today You Knew You Were Going To Take Your Last Breath?
How To Make Enough Money From A Blog To Quit Your Job – Kate McKibbin
How Finding Your Passion And Becoming An Entrepreneur Can Lead To Happiness – Chiquita Searle
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
Success Isn’t Luck, It’s Based on the Good Habits of Who We Become
- Life1 week ago
Practicing Self-Devotion: 3 Ways Towards a More Mindful and Compassionate You
- Life4 weeks ago
5 Steps to Go From Breakdown to Breakthrough
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
10 Common Leadership Myths and How to Overcome Them
- Entrepreneurs3 weeks ago
15 Ways to Become a More Successful Entrepreneur
- Motivation3 weeks ago
What Is Dark Motivation and How Can I Use It to My Advantage?
- Life3 weeks ago
5 Self-Appreciation Strategies for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
- Success Advice2 weeks ago
3 Growth Mindset Adjustments That Double Revenue and Build Freedom