I attended a presentation from new business leaders at their respective agencies, and there was an interesting dichotomy between the individuals on stage and in the audience.

The five on stage all worked at agencies that were part of major holding companies.  The audience, conversely, as shown by a show of hands in response to a moderator question, were predominantly composed of small-to-mid-sized agencies.

The leaders on stage were all driven, smart individuals (they would have to be) but at one point, one of them answered a question on how new business came in and the answer (paraphrased by me) was,

We’ve had very little success with companies where we didn’t have contacts internally.

I single this out, not as a knock in any way, but to illustrate what the majority of you reading are probably thinking, the new business strategy for small-to-mid-sized agencies is very different.

(And I realize that’s not entirely true for small-to-mid-sized agencies, two examples being a referral network or an individual/past client who leaves one company and brings your firm on at their new company.)

The fact is though, the individuals on that stage probably aren’t prospecting.

They don’t have to pick up the phone.

And they have teams of 8 to 20 people (!) handling new business in some capacity.

Not a newsflash:

You do have to pick up the phone and you don’t have a team of 20 people.

It’s a different new business world.

And I see three factors contribute up front to a lack of new business success:

  1. Agencies transition an individual from account management to handle new business, and those individuals typically don’t have the internal motor to truly drive new business. They typically have the farmer mentality. That’s not inherently bad, but it doesn’t bode well for new business success.
  2. Principals try to do it themselves, and they actually “get” new business, but there’s simply not enough time in the day-too many fires to put out.
  3. Principals, or someone in charge of new business, make the time and have the motor, but they don’t know how to put together a structured new business plan.

In the coming weeks, it’s the third factor I want to focus on in a series of posts, and ultimately videos.

I want to look at the hardest part of prospecting: top of the funnel activity, breaking through and getting in the door.

I’ll get tactical and provide steps and/or concrete suggestions you can apply.

So stay tuned, and in the meantime, keep after it.

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Lee McKnight Jr
VP of Sales
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.