Four essentials for creating a strong new business culture at your agency
Agency new business is tough and it’s getting tougher. In the UK alone there are over 15,000 design agencies all vying for a slice of the same pie. Coupled with the fact that buyers are less willing to be sold to and harder to reach, it’s little wonder that many of us start dreaming of a new business silver bullet. If only that “simple and seemingly magical solution to a complicated problem”* existed, right?
Silver bullet or not, agency new business needn’t be a “complicated problem”. One simple solution to winning more business and standing out from the crowd is to foster a strong, agency-wide new business culture. The most successful agencies are those who actively encourage the whole agency team, from the receptionist to the CEO, to hop on board the new business bus and journey together in search of fun, fame and fortune.
But how can you ensure everyone’s engaged with new business and that it isn’t just down to the new business function or senior team to identify and convert new business opportunities?
I believe there are ‘4 Ps’ that form the building blocks of a strong new business culture: Proposition, Plan, People and Performance.
Nailing your agency proposition is fundamental to a strong new business culture. Get it right and everything else will fall naturally and easily from that.
Clearly communicate your agency proposition to all agency staff and make sure they understand and believe it. A strong and simple agency proposition helps to create standout, but when backed up with a real belief from agency staff, even greater standout can be achieved.
Aim to be a unified team with a unified message, with everyone talking about the agency in a consistent manner at all times.
So often agencies forge ahead with new business with no clear goals and no plan in place. Creating and sharing a solid new business and marketing plan is crucial for cultivating a strong new business culture. You’re far more likely to encourage the wider agency team to hop on board that new business bus if they understand what it is they’re working towards. Clear communication of your goals, financial and otherwise, is key. Share the short, medium and long-term strategies you want to adopt for filling your pipeline and be clear about which elements the wider agency team can get involved with. Organic growth, agency contacts, client referrals, client alumni and agency marketing are all areas that everyone can contribute to.
Agency people can be a crazy bunch with lots of hidden talents. Listen to your team and leverage their passions to help your agency stand out from the crowd. Everyone has ideas and some of those ideas will inevitably be good ones. The problem is, many people keep their ideas to themselves, believing they aren’t worth mentioning or they won’t be acknowledged if they bring them up. Regularly and actively listening to your team allows you to catch some of these ideas before they get buried. The potential of the human mind is limitless, and active listening exposes you to countless ideas that might otherwise slip away undetected.
The way we present ourselves can hugely influence people’s impressions of us, both as individuals and as an agency overall. It’s so important to train all agency staff to perform well in new business meetings and to present with genuine enthusiasm, energy and passion. Tap into people’s passions and use these to your agency’s advantage. Make sure that everyone understands that what a client notices most in a first meeting is body language, attitude (energy, confidence, passion) and expertise. Content is the last thing they notice. Encourage everyone in the agency to spend time perfecting their body language and presentation skills rather than spending hours getting hung up on the content and what they’re saying. For maximum impact, make sure everyone feels empowered and equipped with the right skills to present the agency in the best possible light, all with genuine passion and enthusiasm.
Nail each of these 4 Ps and new business should no longer feel such a “complicated problem”. You’ll find you have plenty of passengers journeying with you on that new business bus in search of fun, fame and fortune. And as for that silver bullet – who needs it?