3 Tips To Help Retain Your New Business Director

This is “3 Takeaways”, 3 Tips To Help Retain Your New Business Director, the RSW agency new business video series where we give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

If you don’t know us, it’s shameless plug time: we’re an outsourced business development firm, and we’re celebrating our 15th year helping marketing services firms get in the door effectively and close more business. Check us out at rswus.com

OK, on to it-a common question from agency principals: what can we do to help this new business director we just hired?

It’s an excellent question, and one that is apparently tough to answer, as 85% of Agency New Business Directors last less than 2 Years.

Self-serving on our part, I know, but it’s a fact.  It’s a tough position to fill.

And you know, in blog posts and other videos in this series, I’ve discussed how difficult it can be to hire an individual who understands how to sell your agency.

What you don’t see as much of out there, is how to retain them-another subject altogether.

Talking to agency principals, I hear a lot of this:

“We had this person on board for 5 or 6 months and got no results. We had to let them go and try something different.”

It’s not something anyone wants to hear, but 6 months is not a long time, especially when it comes to prospecting for your agency.

And with that, here’s your first takeaway:

Define the new business position clearly up front

Is this person responsible for all facets of new business, from top of the funnel all the way through to RFP responses and pitching?

Is that person purchasing prospecting lists, or expected to build those out?

Will there also be account management responsibilities?

Wait, it’s pro tip time: Do not combine new business and account management. It does not work.  Dedicate that person solely to new business

Alright, here’s your second takeaway:

Set (realistic) expectations for your new business director

You’ve defined the position, you also have to let them know right up front what’s expected of them, too often that doesn’t happen.

At a baseline, you should absolutely be seeing positive movement from a solid, targeted prospecting effort after 6 months, but if that’s your deadline to have a signed contract in-hand, you’re going to be consistently disappointed.

Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, we’ve seen closed business that early with our own clients, but it’s not the norm.

I mention that you should see “positive movement” at 6 months.

I admit that is vague, so what does it actually mean?

At the risk of being vague (again), that definition really rests with the individual agency.

You need to set up realistic expectations of overall results and a reporting structure and weekly progress updates that you and the new business person can remain committed to.

How about a quick real-world example of not setting realistic expectations?

All shall remain anonymous (I know, no fun), but an agency’s new business director goes to a conference and has multiple appointments set up.

Excellent. He gets back and the agency principals are incredulous: where’s the closed business?

They were sincerely miffed that no closed business came from those first meetings at that trade show.

Doesn’t work that way.

But to give you something more concrete-a yardstick for our new business programs and that you can key off of to set expectations-on average 30% of our clients close business in the first six months, and 90% close some form of business in the first year.

And here’s your third takeaway:

Ask your recently hired new business director for a plan-in writing

I have, strangely, heard more than one story from agency principals telling me they weren’t quite sure what their previous new business director had been doing.

Conceivably prospecting, but they basically left that person to their own devices.

Don’t do that.

When you make the hire, ask for the process and plan, at least a framework your new business director will carry out, that you can then flesh out together to make sure everyone is on the same page.

And really, you should be asking for a top-line version of that before you make the hire.

Give your new business director a fighting chance: set your expectations, targets and goals accordingly and keep them in the loop on what’s happening in the agency so they can use that to their advantage.

You’ll be happier in the long run.

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways, 3 Tips To Help Retain Your New Business Director.

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I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at lee@rswus.com. What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.