We’re a few weeks into handling the coronavirus in the UK, the new business pipeline is starting to slow, we’re still no closer to knowing how much longer this will go on for, and we’ve finally stopped misspelling WFH with WTF.
“I’m better at new business face-to-face” I hear you say.
“That’s great!” I say.
But while you sit and wait for the world to go back to normal, many brands are looking at the current situation and crying out for advice for the future. When the briefs do start flying around again, you need to be the one they throw them to, so start building a pipeline by video, and here’s our tips on how.
These are just essential WFH tips, but always make sure that you’re getting up early, have a normal morning routine before work and are taking lots of breaks. It’s good to have a fake commute, whether that be munching on some cereal or watching early daytime television (a forgotten routine that has filled me with immense childhood nostalgia these past two weeks.)
We’re two weeks in now and I’m sure a lot of you have realised the importance of a tidy workspace. Natural light and a clean area is key, not only for your sanity but also for your background – you’re about to be on stage! If you have a separate webcam, make sure it isn’t too zoomed in or out, and ensure it’s placed in front of the screen you’ll be looking at so that you’re directly looking at others when in video meetings.
Extra planning needs to go into video calls. Check what type of calling software you’ll be using as some require you to sign up before you use them. We’re all used to technical issues at work but this is somewhat avoidable (as it usually is in the office if we put a bit of prep to it!)
Ensure you’re sharing important presentations and docs before the call; if someone’s connection isn’t great, this can create an awkward break in the call.
Similarly, if you’re using a small screened laptop (like my Macbook Air) be wary that you might struggle to view and multitask across multiple screens while on the call. If you’re flashy and have an extra monitor screen, consider using it. And if not, ensure you prep the documents and windows you will need open before the meeting. It can definitely stilt your conversation if someone is talking about a document that you don’t have open.
Particularly for new business, always use video calling where possible. You need to take every opportunity that you can to build rapport, so make sure you throw in some extra energy along the way.
Have an icebreaker planned - it’s ok to talk about coronavirus to do this! It shows that you care, it’s interesting to know how others are coping, and you can compare and contrast the challenges we’re facing.
Don't lean on creds; use your head
Working with hundreds of agencies every year, we find we get good insight into what works and doesn’t work in new business meetings. Our number one advice is to try shutting your laptop for as long as possible in new business meetings; breed an organic conversation, ask questions, and don’t lean too heavily on your creds decks – as that’s exactly what most people do.
Now, we appreciate that it’s hard to close your laptop when your laptop is the meeting. However, the same rules apply; this is a great chance to try not to lean on your Powerpoints too much. Focus more on clever questions, find more out about the brand, the contact and their challenges!
Be aware! As much as the other person can’t see what is on your screen, you need to be careful that a little notification from slack or an email from your colleague doesn’t sway your attention in mid-flow of the call. Over video, it’s harder to read people’s body language and reactions, so you need to pay extra attention to it. Close your emails and put other apps like slack on ‘do not disturb’, people are less likely to bother you then too.
Adapt your sell
It goes without saying that in the current climate, brands are going to reduce their buying commitments. Be sensitive to this, it may be that you will have to nurture the relationship with the long-term in mind.
However, it could be worth considering how you can sell your services in bite-sized chunks to give you a chance of getting some smaller wins along the way. Try thinking about ways to package/productise your services (with fixed prices and clear descriptions of what they’ll get.)
When times are hard, clients’ priorities will be more focused towards campaigns which will have an immediate impact on sales so think about how you can help with this. It could also be worth developing a tailored tester project for some prospects and offering this to them over video call to gauge their reaction.
We’re social beings, and isolation is going to take its toll. Keep thinking of ways to keep in touch with your prospects as there’s lots of learnings to be shared in the current climate. No one knows what to expect, things are changing day by day and everyone just wants a bit of reassurance at the moment, so share positive news.
Yes, the briefs might be trickier to find, and there will be winners and losers out of this whole saga. But if you’re proactive and embrace the video call, it will help ensure that you’re in the best possible position when the horses fly out the starting blocks again. When WFH is over you don’t want to be the one saying WTF.
Alex Sibille is the managing director and co-founder of The Future Factory