Thoughts on the new 4As/ANA agency search process (part two)

OK, here goes. This is Part Two of the 4As / ANA search guidelines whitepaper series. Part One can be found here, where yours truly offers up an opinion on the client guidelines. A little bit on what these new guidelines could mean to search consultants can be found here.

Oh, and here’s an early bit on how you might actually use the whitepaper itself in your new business efforts. Fair warning – it was written without even reading the paper.


Big picture? Get this paper from the 4As site. Definitely worth your while. it certainly won’t replace either a search consultant or an agency new business consultant. But there’s some good stuff in the download for new business professionals of all ages.

Without further adieu, what follows are thoughts around the back half of the whitepaper. It contains advice for agencies. You will find the paper breaks into several sections:

Section: “You’ve Received an RFI or RFP – Now What?”

Thoughts: One of the bullets suggests that it’s OK to answer questions with things like “we don’t do that” or “that’s not our sweet spot, but…” This is fine advice, I guess. But don’t just leave it there. Offer up a solution. If you don’t do something, my guess is that you might have partnered with someone successfully in the past to do what they’re asking about. Or found another way to accomplish the goal. I’m all for being honest and transparent. But have a solution. They are asking for a reason.

The rest of the advice in this section makes a ton of sense. But it is scratching the surface. If you are at all interested in getting smarter on things you can do just after you get invited to complete an RFP, get a free copy of the RFP Response tips. Not all the secrets are here, of course. We here at Thunderclap reserve that for paying customers, after all. But there’s a nugget or two in there that will help.

Section: “You’ve Made the Cut – Optimizing the RFP/Pitch Process”

Thoughts: Love, love, love that word optimizing. It’s worth several hundred words in and of itself. For now, think of it as doing just enough. Not too little. And not too much to win.

There’s some good advice in this section worth keeping in mind. But some of the guidelines could be taking transparency to levels that may not be needed. For instance, must I as an agency proactively tell a prospect about all my internal profit centers? Shouldn’t the prospect be sharp enough to realize this? Meh.

The advice the trade partnership offers around spec work is spot on and worth repeating: take any stipend offered, but make sure the prospect knows they don’t own the work. For any other type arrangements, particularly those that suggest you are bending over… pitch at your own risk. And think about the messages they are sending you about what kind of client they could be.

And that’s about it. There are some worthwhile appendices you should peruse. The best one is the third one – all about spec presentations. As an agency, you will see some specific language and chunks of how-to you can use as you negotiate pitch mechanics moving forward. (Should you find yourself in that kind a position.)

Hope you find this helpful! Should it spark a thought or two, let’s hear it.