Elevating Your Sales Game Through Effective Lead Scrutiny with Debbie Kaplan

Debbie Kaplan is the Managing Director and Chief Delivery Officer at Mosaic, an integrated marketing agency known for its focus on experiential commerce, retail, media, and brand design.

In this episode, we’ll talk about critical aspects of lead qualification in B2B sales with Debbie. We’re discussing how to differentiate promising leads from less viable ones, along with the emotional intelligence required to make strategic decisions. We’ll also look at the complicated process of procurement and agency selection, analyzing the impact on the success of pitches.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • How lead qualification is a large factor in the success of B2B sales efforts.
  • Why understanding the quality of a brief is essential for pursuing sales opportunities.
  • How internal relationships influence the decision to chase potential deals.
  • Why differentiating genuine opportunities from price benchmarking exercises is crucial.
  • How saying no to ill-fitting prospects is a strategic and brave sales move.
  • Why emotional intelligence plays a key role in sales decisions.
  • How procurement processes impact agency selection in marketing and advertising.
  • Why challenging RFP briefs can indicate a genuine interest in an agency’s proposal.
  • How communication among agencies, procurement professionals, and brand directors is vital.
  • Why knowing whose budget is on the line affects the procurement decision-making process.
  • Why agencies may need to opt out of bidding to avoid unsustainable pricing.
  • Why identifying pricing patterns in lost bids is difficult for agencies.
  • Reverse auctions in agency pitches and why they create challenges.
  • How reverse auctioning rate cards overlooks the actual deliverables and value provided by agencies.
  • The evolving nature of agency differentiation and why it’s difficult to define.

Debbie Kaplan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/debbie-kaplan/

Overcoming Sales Ghosting Using Respectful Persistence with Claudia Stephenson

Claudia Stephenson is Managing Director, Europe at INVNT, a global brand storytelling agency. She has over 20 years of experience in brand activation and live events, and her team has developed several award-winning brand storytelling campaigns.

We’re talking with Claudia today about how to build relationships and develop business in the digital landscape, even when you can’t meet your potential clients face-to-face. We share our combined expertise on creating dynamic, diverse teams and cultivating meaningful connections remotely. We tackle the challenge of sales “ghosting” and discuss the power of emotional intelligence and respectful persistence in winning over clients. We also examine stakeholder psychology, asking pivotal questions to unlock client budgets, and fostering long-term trust.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • How virtual connections can revolutionize relationship building.
  • Why nurturing talent and supporting underrepresented groups is vital for marketing agencies.
  • How Claudia’s figure skating background influences her leadership and personal growth strategies.
  • Why understanding stakeholder psychology is crucial for overcoming sales “ghosting.”
  • How respectful persistence can transform silent prospects into active partnerships.
  • Why asking the right questions can allow access to client budgets.
  • How maintaining strategic vigilance ensures a team’s alignment with innovation and attitude.
  • Why trust, storytelling, and strategic insights are key to making pitches stand out.
  • How team diversity contributes to a successful business environment.
  • Why hiring for attitude often trumps skill in building effective teams.
  • How remote communication tools like Zoom facilitate building rapport with clients.
  • Why long-term relationship building and trust are essential for securing deals.
  • How virtual meetings during COVID-19 often proved as fruitful as in-person interactions.
  • Why demonstrating deep knowledge and insights when asked tough questions impresses buyers.
  • How the approach to business development adapts to virtual environments.

Claudia Stephenson on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/claudiastephenson/

Tips on the Retender Process and Sustaining Agency-Client Relationships with David Miller

David Miller is the CEO of Red Brick Road, an innovative strategic and creative agency based in London. With a background that includes taking a leap from stage actor to agency leader, David possesses a tonne of experience in advertising and marketing.

We’re welcoming David this week to discuss the retendering process as well as nurturing client-agency relationships. We’ll touch upon pitching and explore how emotional intelligence plays a vital role in re-securing trust. David explains how agencies can wield the power of optimism, innovation, and AI to keep partnerships strong in the competitive landscape of marketing and advertising.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • How David transitioned from stage actor to CEO and uses his acting experience in pitching.
  • Why understanding the reasons behind a client’s retender is crucial for incumbents.
  • How agencies can use the pitching process to demonstrate resilience and knowledge.
  • Why emotional intelligence is necessary to navigate team dynamics during client retention efforts.
  • How optimism and realism balance the emotional challenges faced by teams during re-pitches.
  • Why innovation and fresh ideas are essential to impress clients and maintain relevance.
  • How AI is currently influencing proposals and shaping the future of pitches.
  • How frequent feedback and proactive communication contribute to strong agency-client dynamics.
  • Why thought leadership extends an agency’s reach beyond traditional marketing boundaries.
  • How incumbents can leverage their industry knowledge as intellectual capital during pitches.
  • Why the incumbency offers both opportunities and liabilities when re-pitching to clients.
  • Why agencies should seek to influence the tender brief before it is finalized.
  • How relationship building has changed in a virtual environment, plus the strategies to adapt.
  • Why in-person meetings are critical for deepening client relationships.
  • How challenger agencies can outperform incumbents by offering fresh insights and understanding client needs.

David Miller on LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/davidmiller9

Office Dynamics and Sales Strategy in London’s Business World with Robert Leigh

Robert Leigh is the innovative founder of DeVono, a leading firm that advises on office space in London. He’s an industry leader with deep insights into the post-pandemic evolution of work environments and office dynamics. His expertise extends to sales strategies, with a particular focus on the real estate sector.

In this episode, we’re talking all about office dynamics and sales strategy. Robert explains the challenges of the post-pandemic office landscape and the irreplaceable vibrancy of physical workspaces. Later, we hear about how strategic timing and providing value can build lasting client relationships.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • How London’s office spaces have evolved post-pandemic to enhance collaboration and mentorship.
  • Why physical office presence boosts sales and business growth.
  • How DeVono tracks lease expiries to strategically time sales engagements with clients.
  • How understanding client decision making and timing can transform cold calls into opportunities.
  • Why offering value on every call builds trust and reduces salesperson anxiety.
  • How maintaining a database helps to customize interactions to client needs.
  • Why hiring for passion, resilience, and active listening is crucial for sales success.
  • How structured onboarding and group hires can increase sales team motivation and drive.
  • Why long-term relationships and networks from sales interactions are vital for business growth.
  • How DeVono navigates changes in office use and real estate strategies.
  • Why commercial mindset development benefits from in-person interactions with leaders.
  • How various outreach methods, beyond cold calling, enhance client engagement.
  • What to look for when hiring for a sales position.
  • Why not every interaction leads to an immediate sale, and why that’s okay.
  • Why building a business development function requires a mix of sales and marketing strategies.

Robert Leigh on LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/robert-leigh-a544005

Understanding Cultural Intelligence in Marketing with Dr. Anastasia Kārkliņa Gabriel

Dr. Anastasia Kārkliņa Gabriel is a cultural theorist, writer, social critic, and strategist specializing in inclusivity within marketing, media, and tech. Currently a senior insights lead at Reddit, she earned her doctorate in cultural studies from Duke University and has consulted for the world’s top brands, including Nike, Samsung, Disney, Ulta Beauty, and AMEX, at agencies like Wieden+Kennedy, Dentsu Creative, and McCann, among others. A lifelong activist, Dr. Gabriel helps brands ignite cultural innovation and leverage the power of media for good. Her insights have been featured in the American Marketing Association (AMA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), WARC, Advertising Week, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and Teen Vogue. She is the author of Cultural Intelligence for Marketers published by Kogan Page in March 2024.

We’re talking with Dr. Gabriel about the power of cultural intelligence in marketing on this week’s episode. We discuss the importance of understanding cultural trends to engage consumers authentically and navigate the complex landscape of consumer culture. Dr. Gabriel shares her journey from activism to brand strategy, showing how her unique perspective enhances brand relevance. We examine frameworks for cultural intelligence, the role of inclusivity in advertising, and the measurable impacts on both business and societal connectivity. We’ll also touch upon the role of AI in advertising and the importance of fostering diversity within marketing teams.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • Why understanding cultural trends is critical for influencing consumer behavior and brand authenticity.
  • How Dr. Gabriel’s academic and activism background offers a unique perspective in applying cultural studies to marketing.
  • How marketing agencies can navigate cultural landscapes by developing frameworks of cultural intelligence.
  • Why distinguishing between fast and slow cultural trends is necessary for brand alignment.
  • How brands can engage with “moments, movements, and mindsets” to resonate with consumers.
  • Why brands must balance cultural relevance with their core values, avoiding silence on significant movements.
  • How inclusive advertising impacts both commercial success and societal connectivity.
  • Why empirical evidence is vital in guiding inclusive marketing practices for brand trust.
  • How to measure cultural intelligence using traditional metrics and perception over time.
  • Why it’s important to understand advertising impact on underrepresented groups using the three Rs: representative, responsible, resonant.
  • How AI in advertising poses challenges with potential biases in training data.
  • Why marketing teams should enhance diversity and inclusivity within their strategies.
  • How agencies can advise brands on meaningful movements without fear of cultural missteps.

Dr. Anastasia Kārkliņa Gabriel on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anastasiakgabriel/

Forming Successful Client Partnerships in B2B Marketing with Claire Lambell

Claire Lambell is the Managing Director at Southpaw, a strategic creative agency that works with challenger brands (that is, brands that have a mindset of doing things differently). Her background is in sociology and social psychology, which she leverages to understand client motivations.

This week, we’re chatting with Claire all about client relationships and agency growth. We’re discussing how to align agency values with client needs, the strategy behind successful pitches, and the importance of early engagement with procurement teams to secure a strong relationship. We’ll hear personal experiences and insights on maintaining a challenger mindset, along with clear budget communication to cultivate long-lasting client partnerships.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • How shared values and understanding client motivations are essential in winning pitches.
  • Why strategy and creativity must work together for insightful, effective campaigns.
  • How diverse backgrounds such as Claire’s contribute to the marketing industry.
  • Why early engagement with procurement teams leads to better negotiation outcomes.
  • How clear budget communication is crucial for realistic marketing strategy planning.
  • Why maintaining a challenger mindset helps agencies stay ahead and deliver on objectives.
  • Why passion and proactive management are vital in managing day-to-day agency operations.
  • Why overcomplicating pitches with too much information can lead to losing a client.
  • How demonstrating value sometimes faces off with competitive pricing in the industry.
  • Why simplicity and storytelling are effective in creating engaging sales presentations.
  • How managing risk with procurement can set an agency apart during the pitch process.
  • Why agencies should qualify opportunities based on fit, fame, firepower, and fortune.
  • Why discussing targets and budgets with clients leads to more successful campaign outcomes.

Claire Lambell on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-lambell-a934382a/

Winning More by Pitching Less in Agency Sales with Nikki Gatenby

Nikki Gatenby is an agency specialist non-exec director and cognitive behavioural coach – with a laser focus on helping founders to build their agencies into highly valuable assets, by creating both agency and client value over time.

Having led, owned, managed and grown pioneering agencies in London, Paris and Brighton, Nikki understands what it takes to create business success.

Her last agency went from Brighton to global, from marketing services to two SaaS technology products (answerthepublic and coveragebook), both now independently bigger than the agency itself.

This was hand in hand with being named one of the Best Places to Work in the UK for 8 years running – whilst trebling margin, generating 4 times more revenue and 10x more profit.

Having captured the insights in two best sellers – ‘Superenegaged’ – focusing on high engagement at work and ‘Better Business on Purpose’ – centered around positive impact, Nikki took her exit in 2019 and is now focused on making other good agencies, great.

Nikki is with us today to talk all about sales qualification along with exploring strategic approaches to maximize agency growth. We’re discussing how embracing a “less is more” mantra is not just wise, but crucial for thriving in a competitive market. We hear about examining feedback loops, the importance of recognizing a deal’s alignment with an agency’s strengths, and the power of defining the ideal customer. Nikki even shares strategies for gracefully declining RFPs and reinforcing the significance of articulating unique agency value in high-stakes negotiations and QBRs.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • How to increase pitch success rates by qualifying sales opportunities for agencies.
  • Why turning down pitches is essential for agency growth and avoiding wasted resources.
  • The necessity of feedback loops to identify early warning signs in potential deals.
  • Defining an ideal customer profile to deliver value and elevate agency-client relationships.
  • Understanding procurement language and the Kraljic matrix to enhance negotiation skills.
  • Nikki’s insights on gracefully declining RFPs while maintaining future collaboration prospects.
  • The pivotal role of conveying unique agency value during contract renegotiations and QBRs.
  • The transition from agency growth to SaaS products in Nikki’s career.
  • Why agencies should avoid the race to the bottom with pricing to maintain a quality team.
  • Emphasizing the mantra “volume is vanity, conversion is sanity” for agency leaders.
  • Recognizing the best opportunities to pitch by aligning with the agency’s strengths.
  • Why focusing efforts on the most promising pitches improves win rates and average order values.

Nikki Gatenby on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikkigatenby/

How to Create Long-Term Business Credibility and Sustainability with Cain Ullah

Cain Ullah is a career consultant and digital transformation expert, as well as the founder of Red Badger. He has a fantastic ability to foster long-term client relationships, as well as a knack for guiding large organizations through strategic and executional challenges in digital product transformation.

In this episode, Cain shares his point of view on the essential practice of building trust in professional relationships. He’ll provide tips on how to craft genuine connections that go beyond transactional interactions, which helps in fostering credibility and nurturing sustainable business growth. We’re discussing the importance of providing value plus prioritizing non-self-oriented interactions to cultivate a network that supports and enhances both personal and professional success.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • Why prioritizing trust and genuine connections is essential in professional engagements.
  • How discovering shared personal interests can enrich professional relationships.
  • Why starting with credibility in sales conversations lays the groundwork for deeper, trust-based connections.
  • How “gold coins” of knowledge entice client interest and foster organic opportunities over time.
  • Why delivering on promises is key to maintaining credibility and sustainable business growth.
  • How a commitment to quality leads to financial stability and a reduced need for constant client acquisition.
  • How shared risk-reward models and robust reporting can strengthen client engagement and trust.
  • Why aggressive sales tactics that neglect delivery quality can harm your business.
  • How strong delivery teams make it easier to build trusted advisor relationships.
  • Why excellence in service is a foundation for business stability, client retention, and organic growth.
  • Red Badger’s simple yet powerful mantra.
  • Why defining clear success metrics early in client relationships is necessary for accountability and alignment.

Cain Ullah on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cainullah/

The Art of Gravitas and Authentic Conversation with Catherine Allison

Catherine Allison is the founder of Master the Art, an organization dedicated to enhancing communication skills. With a diverse background in creative agencies and acting, she excels in teaching individuals how to display gravitas and confidence while maintaining authenticity.

In this episode, we’ll chat with Catherine about the world of professional communication. She’ll let us in on the keys to projecting gravitas and authenticity in the workplace. We’ll hear about practical strategies and insights to help you command respect and influence with ease, all while keeping your unique voice front and center.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • How to project confidence and warmth in professional settings with the help of gravitas.
  • Why gravitas isn’t just for seasoned executives; it’s an accessible trait that anyone can develop.
  • Why preparation and the “gravitas equation” (knowledge + purpose + passion – anxiety = gravitas) enhance communication skills in various settings.
  • How balancing gravitas with lightness and authenticity is crucial for commanding presence.
  • Why authenticity in leadership and gravitas is about true presence, not performance.
  • How clarity of thought without scripting can lead to engaging and meaningful conversations.
  • Why gravitas is critical in sales and leadership for commanding respect and trust.
  • How statistics show that soft skills often determine the success of pitches over content.
  • How daily recognition of successes can contribute to a positive mindset and confidence.
  • Why managing anxieties with specific strategies can improve focus.
  • Why understanding and improving components of the gravitas equation is key for professional growth.

Catherine Allison on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinea

The Art of Sales Leadership and Team Empowerment with Simon Cooper

A former FTSE100 Marketing Director, since selling his human insight and coaching business Chemistry in 2015, Simon Cooper has been leading, facilitating, and coaching change across a range of organisations.

A Partner at Positive Momentum, Simon has many years of business change and growth experience having been a Marketing Director at Cable & Wireless following a career in commercial leadership roles in technology, consulting, and telecommunications businesses.

After Cable & Wireless Simon grew the human insight consultancy Chemistry from a start-up in a village in England to standing toe to toe across the world with established leaders in human data analytics, behavioural change and business consulting working with clients such as Vodafone, Experian, and Diageo. He sold that business in 2015.

Prior to Cable & Wireless, as Marketing Director, Simon shaped the cultural and sales turnaround at Energis, a bankrupt business, when he and the team arrived. Simon drove fast, dramatic change across the marketing team, sales capability, customer experience, culture, brand, go-to-market strategy and external marketing, and was intimately involved with the successful exit for the shareholders netting them $750m.

Before Energis he lived in the USA whilst working with AT&T as Global Chief Marketing Officer for their Concert business, before heading back to Europe to join Accenture where he led the sale of +$100m outsourcing deals, working across Europe with clients such as Microsoft, Iberdrola and Nokia.

His early years in management were spent at BT where he introduced market shifting new services (including their first ever BT shop on the internet, yes really!) and formed a market defining partnership with Sky.

Simon has a Post Graduate Diploma in Behavioural Change from Henley Management College and an MBA awarded jointly by INSEAD in Paris and McGill University in Montreal under the direct tutorage of business guru Henry Mintzberg. Henry quoted Simon in his book at the time. The MBA study included periods at Kobe University in Japan, Bangalore Institute of Management in India and Lancaster University in the UK.

He’s never more energized than when playing football on a Friday night and describes his greatest burden in life as his love for Derby County (apparently they won the leagues in 1972 and 1975 – who knew). His humour will most definitely make you laugh, but he saves his widest smiles for his wife Carol, daughter Laura and son Jonathan.

In this week’s episode, Simon unravels the qualities that exceptional leaders possess to inspire their sales teams and surpass revenue goals. We delve into the crucial role of setting a vision, fostering growth, and constructing a high-caliber team. We debate the player-manager conundrum in sales leadership, considering if directors should directly close deals or focus on coaching their teams. We emphasize hiring for attitude over experience, plus the power of networking for genuine connections. We also explore the harmonious relationship between sales and marketing, especially in professional services, and the significance of articulating value propositions.

Topics covered during this episode include:

  • How exceptional commercial leaders drive team performance, even in challenging economies like today’s.
  • Why a clear vision and roadmap for teams is critical for success.
  • How fostering an environment of growth can empower teams to achieve and exceed targets.
  • Why building a world-class sales team often involves frequent assessment and development.
  • How sales leadership roles balance deal making with team mentorship and strategy development.
  • Why hiring for attitude and cultural fit can be more important than industry experience.
  • How attitudes and behaviours are critical factors in successful sales team composition.
  • Why networking for genuine connections surpasses networking for mere contacts.
  • How marketing leaders can craft compelling value propositions for financial decision makers.
  • Why understanding the economic impact of marketing efforts is essential for business growth.
  • How predictive modeling of marketing campaigns can improve accuracy over time.
  • Why collaborative negotiation techniques can transform competitive situations into success.
  • How empathy and curiosity are potent tools in high-stakes negotiations.
  • Why leaders should understand core values as they deeply influence professional behaviours.
  • How recognizing the influence of values can aid in hiring the right team members.

Simon Cooper on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simoncooper11/