New Business Success: It’s not Magic, it’s Methodology

The day-to-day work with our clients at RSW/US enables us to understand on a personal level new business development challenges advertising agencies face in real time. For a more comprehensive, macro view of the industry and dynamics affecting the new business development process, we field the Agency New Business Survey every other year.

Our November 2016 Agency New Business Survey and Report marked the fourth release since 2010. In each survey, we ask what agencies experience as the greatest obstacle to a successful new business development program. From 2012 through 2016, the number one hindrance was “didn’t have a solid methodology.” It was the number two reason in the 2010 survey.

In 2016, 48 percent of agencies indicated they lack a methodology for prospecting. When we consider this statistic with a related one—66 percent of agencies indicate they do not have a business development plan—it doesn’t seem all that surprising that so many agencies report falling short on methodology.

What IS rather surprising is that the need is recognized survey after survey, yet continues to show up as a significant roadblock to agency new business success. New business is the lifeblood of long-term agency success, and adopting a methodology calls for tools and resources that are universally accessible: people, time, clear and unique agency positioning, a CRM (be it extremely simple or highly sophisticated), and commitment to an established process.

An infographic we released recently, Ups and Downs of Agency New Business, presents a six-step new business development methodology:

  1. Create a plan
  2. Position your firm
  3. Target your efforts
  4. Manage the new business meetings
  5. Follow-up strategically
  6. Celebrate new business wins!

It’s so simple, right? Just common sense. True… but if you and your team proceed through this list, checking off each step as a quick “to do,” you still won’t see the results you desire. 

This framework for new business methodology is just that: a framework. It requires resources, particularly human resources. To be successful, your firm needs to dedicate a team member or members who are wired to embrace new business development strategically. Just as in a good game of chess, they need to be thinking several steps ahead in the process about how to move prospects forward, transforming them into clients.

Each step needs careful thought. Your team needs to:

  • Define specific growth objectives
  • Speak with consistency about what makes your firm truly unique
  • Commit to communicating your firm’s unique point of difference through both broadcasted and personalized messaging. 
  • Know that meetings with new prospects need to be intentional and strategic. Prepare for them in great detail. “Meet and greet” appointments rarely generate the results you seek.
  • Always be thinking at least two steps ahead. What’s in the follow-up plan that adds value for your prospect, and continues to showcase how your firm alone is the solution to their needs?
  • Allow yourself to celebrate when you win new business, AND…
  • Realize this process is ALWAYS “on.”

It’s that last point that can make all the difference in your new business program: it’s always on.

As you develop your new business prospect methodology, remember to commit the right people. New business methodology is an ongoing process. It is not an annual event. Ensure the team that you build to create and drive it is dedicated to living and breathing the new business process daily. 

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