Gain an Advantage in New Business

We all know that New Business and Marketing is a tough job. The role has expanded exponentially over the past few years, competition is fierce, clients and procurement teams have become more demanding. And the result is ever-increasing pressure on resource and time. So where do you start and how do you deploy your time, resource and energy? How do you position your agency to win more business, more often? The answer is to gain clarity around your goals and apply a strategic framework that allows you to create the right kind of valuable pipeline opportunities. Needless to say, it’s a road well travelled by the most successful new business winning agencies. So here’s the outline approach: Start with the Agency Business Plan Work together with senior management on the detail of the agency business plan. Their growth targets and strategy (including new services, products, skills and expertise) will define yours. Make sure to agree your new business and marketing budget for the year. Work alongside agency management It’s important that you update senior management throughout the year (they’ll be coming to you, so don’t worry, it’ll happen). Signal any areas that will require investment (both financial and importantly, their…

The Pitch Holy Trinity

Pitch PerfectHow to be a pitch-winning leader The holy trinityPerfect timing. I’ve recently emerged from a roller coaster pitch ride, ready to impart a snapshot of my learning. As a seasoned pitch veteran, what my experience has taught me is this: there is a holy trinity of successful pitch skills, namely leadership, talent and process. Along the way, I’ve found that some things remain the same, yet each client, brand and agency team presents a series of unique and exciting challenges. The holy trinity is, however, a constant. ProcessWhat remains the same? To a large degree, this is the process itself. We’re talking about nailing the schedule of events, the all-important ‘to-do’ list. It ranges from knowing and analysing the brief well enough to recite it in your sleep, to timetabling deadlines for all the deliverables- and sticking to them. For some, this is a learning curve, but once you’ve successfully navigated the curve, next time up, the journey should be smoother. TalentTalent – intellectual and creative, is embedded in an agency’s DNA. The fine art of pitching demands that this collective talent is applied to what is often a business issue not encountered before, and that insights are gleaned…

How to Build an Agency Client Referral Culture

How to ask for internal and external referrals from clients. 1. Why Client Referrals Asking for client referrals is one the easiest and most powerful ways to get in front of new business prospects – an effective and proven strategy for helping to build new business pipelines. The problem is, many agencies don’t exploit this opportunity or if they do, it lacks consistency. Therefore, the benefits are not fully realised. And the benefits are numerous – if everybody was to offer up say 2 potential contacts, these are potential easy wins. 2. Who to ask Who in the agency should you be asking for help in identifying clients that could make referrals? You should definitely be asking the senior management, client services and those who are generally well networked, but the truth is that everyone has potential connections that could be of value – either directly or indirectly.  3. Mindsets Overcoming negative mindsets is the key to success. These negative mindsets hold people back, and include: – It’s not my job – Fear of opening up a conversation with clients who may then turn the spotlight on the agency’s (poor) performance – It looks desperate, like I’m being a salesperson – It…

So you walk into a room full of strangers. What next?

It seems to me that you’re either born to network or you have to work at it – for many of us it’s the latter. There’s nothing particularly exciting or easy about walking into a crowded room full of strangers, with sole intent of striking up a conversation, keeping it flowing and leaving it at the right moment. But, as we all know, relationships drive business and New Business Directors need to thrive in a networking environment. Knowing how to build a network of valuable contacts is pretty essential to the job. So here are some tips on how to approach it, make the most of it, and even enjoy it. What is successful networking? For us in new business, it’s largely about developing professional relationships which could ultimately lead to referrals and new business opportunities. But shift the perspective a little and there is arguably a more enjoyable and valuable way to meet and nurture your connections. Fulfilling your role as an integral part of a network has one central goal: helping others in the room. The mantra playing in your head could usefully be expressed as “How can I help you?” with little regard for your personal agenda.…

Listen Without Prejudice

Easy to say, hard to do. Good listening requires us to put aside our prejudices and preconceptions until we have collected all the information we need to respond. But in the background, our inner voice speaks to us and demands that we respond in various guises, be it the ‘expert’, (I need to say something very clever right now), the ‘competitor’, (I need to show that I am ‘better, smarter’), the ‘judge’ (judging not only the other person, but ourselves), or the ‘dreamer’ (spinning far out of orbit with ideas). All of this stops us from listening.  Listening is a multi-sensory activity, not restricted to sounds and language but embracing body language and silence too. The key here is the ability to play in the space between listening and responding to what you hear. Learning to control or master these instincts and motivations is so very hard to do. But if you achieve it, if you improve your listening skills, the benefits are substantial. Not least in your interactions with new business prospects, clients, and colleagues. Great leaders have many outstanding qualities and one of these is undoubtedly being a good listener. Interested in learning more about listening better? Then…

WHY WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT PROSPECTING

It’s the issue that weighs heavily on the mind of everyone working in new business – how to ensure that you’re able to deliver a continuous flow of new business opportunities.   The health of your new business pipeline is paramount, and knowing how to create, fill and manage a pipeline is arguably the New Business Director’s most valuable skill. Which is why we need to talk about prospecting. Given the pressure on delivering new business revenue targets, agencies often direct much of their effort on short-term tactical opportunities, for instance taking advantage of those key events that trigger account reviews: client moves and new marketing appointments, changing brand/market dynamics, M&As, statutory reviews and so on. In order to succeed, agencies need to work hard to ensure that they’re well positioned and ready to compete. The problem is, too much focus on today could leave your agency exposed in the future. The pipeline may run dry. You need a new business insurance policy that safeguards your pipeline longer term. To achieve this, it’s important to take a broader view, and plan your prospecting strategies to deliver for the short, medium and long-term, mindful of the 70/20/10 rule (respectively) designed to…