So you’ve decided you want to be more proactive on generating new business? Great! You have taken a step in the right direction.

Maybe you’ve already hired an agency or have someone internally, and you’re ready to get out there and show brands what they’re missing out on. Your business development team starts speaking with brands they see as being a good fit based on your offering or experience, and get you a couple of meetings to attend. Brimming with enthusiasm they burst through the door eager to tell you about the meeting they have setup, to be met with the phrase we all know too well “I only want to meet them if they have brief”.

Let’s play out this scenario:

Fred has recently set up his Tinder profile and is ready to get out there and find his ‘perfect match’. He has a list of qualities he is looking for:

  • Beautiful
  • Smart
  • Family-oriented
  • Has a stable job
  • And, most importantly, is looking to get married within the next two weeks.

You might agree that Fred’s expectations are a little unrealistic. Chances are he won’t find anyone that is willing to get married in two weeks to someone they barely know! Settle down Fred, you need to be patient and remember that before you pop the big question, you have some work to put in.

This is effectively the same principle of “I only want to meet with brand who have a brief”.

To win new business, much like finding your ‘soul mate’ there is a journey you have to embark on.

New Business v. Dating

(1) Your eyes meet across the room / someone opens your newsletter

You have spotted your ‘one true love’ on Tinder, Bumble or in a spin class at your gym. You believe your love is meant to be, so you strike up a conversation.

Likewise, a potential prospect might have seen one of your newsletters, campaigns or have previously heard of you; either way there is some form of initial contact.

(2) Insta-stalking / online research

Before progressing the relationship, you want to go away and do some ‘hard-core’ research, or as it is most commonly known some good old Insta-stalking.

The same way that Fred might want to rush away and delete a few embarrassing pictures on Instagram from his summer trip to Ibiza, you also want to pay close attention to your online presence. You need to ensure you are providing prospects with the right content, for the right stages of their research.

(3) Starting to fall / showing interest

They’ve passed your thorough online investigation and you’ve gone on a few dates. Everything is going great, there are butterflies every time you see each other and they even laugh at your bad jokes. There is clearly some interest and you are keen to see where this goes.

Similarly, your prospect likes the look of you, thinks you have done some interesting work and is keen to learn more about you and how you could help them.

(4) Putting on the brakes / hesitation

This is the stage where things can get a little awkward. Suddenly you’re not so sure this person you’ve been dating is the person you always dreamed about marrying. Maybe they have a really annoying habit or a weird collection of rubber duckies – either way you are beginning to have some doubts.

Same thing happens with prospects, before they get serious with you they will want to make sure you are going to get them the results they want. They might have some doubts and insecurities, and your job is to provide them with reassuring information at the time they need it most.

(5) Popping the question / commitment

You have decided to look past their flaws, and instead focus on all their great attributes and the way they make you feel. Remember, just because you are at the commitment stage it does not mean all the work is over, you still need to keep the spark alive!

Your prospect decides you are the one they want to do business with. You are both over the moon and can’t wait to get things going. This is your time to shine and show them why they made the right decision choosing you.

So… what’s the point we’re trying to make?

New business is much like dating – it takes time, research and commitment. You wouldn’t commit to spending the rest of your life with someone after just one date, you take your time to court them, build a relationship and develop trust. In new business, becoming known to your prospect is only the first step. You then need to start to understand their challenges and how you could help them solve these.

Next time you go to say “I only want to meet them if they have a brief” consider whether you would only go on a date with someone if you knew they wanted to marry you within the next two weeks.