It's very odd. And I have tried to put it down to my selective memory/imagination. But this latest incident - one of many hundreds - has confirmed a simple reality. That over 90% of new business enquiries occur when I am on holiday, in an airport or on a train. In other words traveling. And let me define new business. I don't mean conversations that started somewhere else. I mean brand new enquiries out of the blue. Unexpected and unconnected.
Most clients/enquirers are happy to wait for me to return from holiday. In rare instances, they need a proposal fast because they need to approve the project in a few days. This happened to me last week. I arrived in Abu Dhabi with family on Sunday night.
Yes, that's a picture of my family and random fat guy in the world's biggest mosque - wife and I are spiritual rather than practitioners of any religion. Didn't stop her having to veil up to go inside though. And I think she looked kinda cute all covered up.
Anyway, on Wednesday morning I received an email requesting a conference call (in the US). I suggested a time that same evening at 2115. Then, to my absolute horror I proceeded to FORGET about it. Got back to hotel room and felt faint as I realised I had missed the call. Went to send an email to the prospect but he had beaten me to it saying I was probably held up and could I suggest a new time - phew! We eventually connected and a proposal was sent (I worked on it with two colleagues in LA and and Copenhagen) the following Tuesday. On Wednesday we heard the project was ours and on Thursday I was back from our holiday. This, let me assure you, is very typical. Although lead times can sometimes take up to 3 months.
Wondering how we tackle new business? We don't. I have never called anyone or pitched to anyone. Yes, I blog and I do conferences here and there. But those of you who have heard me speak will know I love talking about cock-ups more than successful case studies. I'm that fearless reality guy who confesses all with brutal honesty. Want to know about the parents who called the police? Come listen to my talk. Want to know how we left a terrified client with a drunk couple as part of a 360? Come to my talk. Want to know how we had to persuade same client not to drive home intoxicated? Come to my talk. Want to know about the kids who decided they were going to figure out what I was there to observe and proceeded to eat and drink everything to see how I would react? Come to my talk.
And when we are asked for a proposal, 9/10 times we are not competing with any other agency. If we are competing, it's with an agency offering a different technique.
Do you think I'm bragging?
Well, I don't travel that much...