Agency new business is tough.

This statement is a surprise to no one.

But agency principals often forget this when dealing with everything else that goes on while running the show.

Whether you have a team or a single new business director, take the time to inspire them.

A piece appeared on Inc. titled Fire ‘Em Up! 5 Simple Steps to Inspire Your Employees, and while not related directly to new business, I’ve inserted my own thoughts to reflect on agency new business.

5 steps to inspire your new business employees:

 New Business

1. Paint an Inspiring Vision

Whether you are a company founder, CEO, top executive, or senior manager, your job is to paint an inspiring vision of where your organization is heading. . . To get employees truly excited it’s important to provide a vivid description of what the world will be like when the BHAGs are achieved.

And I would replace where your organization is heading with where your new business plan is taking the agency.

While it’s often your new business team/person’s responsibility to guide or create process, the principal needs to explain big-picture how their efforts impact the whole agency.


2. Connect People to the Vision

Once you communicate the vision, explain to everyone exactly what their roles are in making it a reality. . . when your people understand what role they play in achieving your vision, they will feel a sense of personal pride and engagement that will help drive your business forward. It’s your job to draw the dots and then help your people connect them.

Fairly self-evident as it relates to new business, but this is when you get a little deeper into the weeds as an agency principal.

You’ve explained how new business efforts impact the agency, now you need to form and explain what the role entails.

Make sure you detail to the team or person how far the role goes, for example who may be part of a pitch versus someone who’s role may be more on the front lines of outbound prospecting.

 New Business

3. Build a Culture of Courage

When your people are afraid to make mistakes, they will avoid taking any chances at all. Risk-awareness is good, up to a point, but a tight embrace of the status quo often results in organizations that can’t respond to changes in the marketplace, and can’t innovate. Instead of punishing or discouraging employees from taking risks or trying new approaches, teach, encourage, and expect it.

Looking at this through the new business lens, principals need to guide and collaborate with the new business person or team, but of course there’s only so much time in the day.

Set a time every week or every other week and keep that date.

Encourage your new business director to try different messaging or ways to break through for those non-referral prospects.


4. Reward Accordingly

Once you establish a culture of courage, put your money where your mouth is by rewarding employees who are courageous and who take smart risks. Determine the best and most effective ways that you can reward smart risk-taking in your organization, and then do it–regularly, and in a way that is highly visible.

Smart risks is the key here.

Sales, by definition, favors the bold and rewarding those involved in new business for new ideas that pay off is ideal.


5. Thank Them. A Lot.

Inspired, engaged employees are worth their weight in gold, and you should and must do everything possible to keep them happy–and on your payroll–for as long as you possibly can.

The average tenure of a new business person is about the same as a CMO-18 months or so.

If they’re good, do all you can to keep them.

The new business postion at an agency is notoriously undervalued, so as a principal, be the one to set the tone and show that the position is valued.

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 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.