When three clients raise the same issue in one week, it goes on my "hot topics" list as one that's likely faced by most of my readers as well. Have you wondered how many people you should bring with you to an upcoming marketing meeting? Recently, three different clients faced this question as they followed up with a potential client. The details varied.
- One felt obligated to bring along the partner who had introduced her to the prospect, because she didn't want to appear to be "stealing" the client.
- Another felt that because both she and her partner had previously worked with the prospect, they should both go to the meeting.
- The third was being pressed by the head of her practice group to bring along a phalanx of partners and associates to show the firm's depth in the practice area.
In each instance, my clients needed to separate their internal relationships with their partners from what made sense from a marketing perspective.
What to Do
The focus needed to be on what worked for the client, not what worked for the firm or the individuals involved.
Clients hate being involved in firm politics -- particularly those involving who gets credit for their work! Whatever "credit" issues arise need to be resolved in a forum other than the client meeting. Start by getting the internal issues out of the way. Have a straightforward discussion with your partners about who should attend the meeting.
And what's my recommendation? Typically, one. That's right, I recommend you go it alone.
In general, this is a situation in which less is more. The more people present, the more the potential client is likely to feel "ganged up on" or "pitched." While it may eventually make sense to bring in more people to demonstrate your ability to meet the breadth of the client's needs, that's not the place to start. And make sure that each person you bring actually has a role which is critical to the meeting. No window dressing.
What Not to Do
The worst "pitch" that I ever attended involved four male partners and a young female associate.
Throughout the pitch, only the men spoke. In the final few minutes, one of the men turned to the young associate and asked her to tell us what she liked about the firm. She began by telling us about the wonderful working environment the firm offered.
At that point, the female decision-maker turned to me and whispered "Oh no! They brought her along to give the Miss America speech!"
Needless to say, they didn't get the work.
Marketing is about seeing the world through the client's eyes. Leave the office politics at home.