Most people are familiar with user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX). At The Duval Partnership, we’ve become increasingly focused on the concept of the prospect experience (PX™). But what does that mean exactly, and why should agencies care about it?
PX is how your agency presents to prospective clients at every touchpoint. It’s where your agency’s brand comes to life on the highway to new business. PX informs prospects’ impression of your agency and their interest in doing business with you. Creating a positive experience for prospects, then, supports greater new business success for your agency.
Referencing PX is a reminder that agencies must work to actively center the prospect. Writing an article? Sending an email? Publishing a new case study? Describing your services? Meeting with a prospective client? PX should be top of mind.
PX gives agencies a needed edge for new business
Many client relationships are initiated through referrals and word of mouth in advertising. Agency PX influences even those friendly introductions.
Agency engagements are typically big expenditures involving multiple decision-makers. Having an internal advocate doesn’t mean the agency won’t be judged by other parties who give greater weight to the agency’s PX when evaluating agency fit. Friendly relationships can only take you so far. It can be an uphill battle to ask prospective clients to trust you with their business despite a lackluster online presence and absence of relevant proof points.
When you enter discussions with a strong PX, you come from a position of strength and have a greater chance of closing, regardless of where the lead originated and how friendly they may be.
Building a positive prospect experience for agencies
We often write about the factors that influence prospects’ impressions of an agency. Examples of elements that ladder up to a positive PX are outlined below:
- Solid performance / page load time
- Good navigation and usability
- Offers an easy-to-understand, consistent explanation of what the agency does
- Answers most or all of the questions prospects commonly have
- Is written primarily FOR and TO prospects (not for the agency itself or any other audience) and ideally with a specific prospect persona or personas in mind
- Presents the agency as credible and expert in their field, along with whatever brand personality the agency wants to express (fun, edgy, futuristic, or buttoned-up, for example)
- It’s easy for prospects to identify the right person to contact about new business and to find their name and direct contact information
- During normal business hours, calls are answered by a live person ready to help direct prospects to the appropriate party
- Inbound queries via voicemail, email, and online form submissions are promptly answered
- Conversations are purposeful and strategic (see “meetings” below for more detail)
- Concise and exclusive of agency “fluff” (if there is a place for extended descriptions and explanations of agency services, it is not within the body of an email)
- Focused on the prospect’s needs rather than what the agency wants the prospect to know about the agency
- Are hyper-relevant and specific to the prospect (considering industry, company, and role)
- Is written with the prospect audience in mind, in terms of topic, title, format, and copy
- Has been reviewed to consider whether it answers the right questions or introduces other unanswered questions
- Is aligned with agency positioning and new business goals
- Come prepared. Do your due diligence on the people you will be meeting with, their roles, potential talking points and icebreaker questions, and review their recent news (individual and company-level) as well as the industry landscape
- Thank the prospect for their time and show that you appreciate it by making the best use of the meeting
- Be ready to discuss what’s relevant to the prospect’s areas of interest (and reconfirm what those are at the start of the meeting)
- Don’t waste valuable meeting time asking about things you should already know
- Instead of talking about yourself and your agency, ask questions about challenges the prospect faces and goals they have
- Ask the right questions to fully understand their pain points and emotional drivers, and only once those are clear should you start talking about possible solutions
- Confirm next steps and address follow-up items timely
- Have fewer slides
- Have less busy slides
- Have a clear message instead of saying 30 things at once and hoping one will resonate
- Connect agency capabilities, stories, and assets directly to the prospect’s needs
TIP: If you can’t focus your message in a presentation, you probably need to ask more questions and get better information from the prospect. If they are unwilling to provide it, think twice about whether the opportunity is worth pursuing.
Is your agency ready to center the prospect experience?
Agencies addressing the elements that ladder up to create that positive PX have a commitment at the highest levels. Their leadership is fully invested in presenting the best version of the agency. The teams at these agencies are typically tightly aligned and rowing in the same direction.
Not only is it easier for us to do our job and generate leads for agencies that offer a strong PX, but they also leave a clear impression that it is easier for clients to work with them.
Agencies that provide a great PX:
- Have workshopped their brand
- Understand their target prospects
- Present a clear message that is compelling to prospects
- Prioritize their website
- Talk about themselves in relation to how they solve client problems
- Aggressively dial back or eliminate fluffy language
- Home in on the most important messages and eliminate unnecessary text
- Avoid empty claims and provide proof points to show what they do
- Are focused on the work they have a “right” to win
- Respond and follow-up quickly
Unfortunately, this “gold standard” remains frustratingly out of reach for many agencies. Let’s take a look at why that is.
Why do agencies struggle to provide a good prospect experience?
PX is a common-sense concept, yet some of the best agencies continue to struggle with it for these reasons:
- Bandwidth (client work leaves few resources available to address agency issues)
- Too many internal opinions and “cooks in the kitchen”
- Siloed, internal-focused thinking (outside perspectives aren’t valued, and everyone is drinking the same agency kool-aid, trying to people-please leadership)
- Organizational roadblocks (particularly with holding company agencies)
- Failure to actively and deliberately center the prospect at each point
- Confusing what they believe they can do with what they can prove that they do
- Complacency about recognized PX issues because its status quo for them, and fixing it seems too hard
- Willingness to risk “half-assing it” in certain areas because they believe they can still overcome any resistance based on personal interactions “in the room” with prospects
These obstacles are real and, for many agencies, are not easily overcome. Such conditions make it more challenging to attract and convert leads to closed new business. When we talk about “putting the agency’s best foot forward” for new business, that doesn’t mean in the context of a pitch presentation, but rather the whole of how the agency presents itself across the board.
Before an agency can prioritize its PX, they have to align on its value. Ultimately, some agencies may need to make a stronger internal case about why PX is important and how it reduces friction in the sales funnel.
In the meantime, try applying PX as a question wherever possible. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and ask, “Does this tell me what I need to know? Can I trust this agency to help solve my specific challenges? How do I feel when I see this?”
Where can you identify opportunities for improvement?
Improve your agency's PX with an Agency Audit:
- How To Get More New Business By Talking About Solving Client Problems
- 9 CX Issues Lurking On Your Agency’s Website
- Why You Should Consider Lead-Gen Tactics for Your Agency Website
- How Can the B2B Buyer Experience Help Grow Your Agency?
- Is Your Agency Open For Business? Do Your Prospects Know That?
- 6 Easily-Fixable Mistakes Agencies Make With Prospect-Facing Content
- 4 Ways Agencies Mess Up New Business Outreach & How To Fix It