As I’m talking to agencies every day, I get some perspective on the decision to use a company like RSW-US or hire an agency new business director internally.

Both obviously have pros and cons, and focusing on the internal hire for the purposes of this post, a few reminders and/or questions you should consider (because we see too many agencies that don’t):


1)      New business directors don’t have to come from an agency background

This is always tough, because in a big picture sense, the ideal is an individual with an agency background, who can enter the position and hit the ground running.

But those individuals can be either hard to find or they tend to jump from agency to agency.

RSW/US approaches it this way: the new business directors we hire have either worked at an agency or on the client side, and they have on average 10-15 years of sales and marketing experience.

Another deciding factor, though:


2)      What is the role of your agency new business director?

Is it finding opportunities in more of a marketing role or to pitch and win business in more of a sales role?

Obviously, each calls for different skill sets.

And certainly it’s possible to find one person who can do both, but not typically easy.

You have to make that decision up front, and while that may seem blatantly obvious, we’ve seen many  internal new business directors at agencies fail because their role wasn’t properly defined.

3)      Are you hiring a rolodex?

A double-edged sword, to be sure.

Sure, a well connected individual can be a huge plus, but that rolodex will eventually run out.

When that happens, does that person have the sales chops to get truly new business?

agency new business director

4)      Is your agency new business director also going to have a hand in account management?

Another tough one.

Depending on the set-up, your new business director may be the first point of contact, and the one who closed the business-there’s a relationship there.

But again, we’ve seen internal new business directors at agencies fail for this reason as well-more and more time dedicated to existing accounts that inevitably pulls them away from the reason they were hired-new business.

Can this model work, of course, but again, you’ve got to have the responsibilities very clear prior to hiring.

Love ya

5)      What are your expectations?

Ah yes, the expectations.

I spoke with an agency principal recently who really wanted to try out a 3 month program with us.

Knowing from the conversation earlier they had tried someone internally, I asked if that was the kind of time frame they had given their new business director previously.

There is a very good reason we don’t have 3 month programs, as you may expect, there is little value in that kind of expectation, it’s very little time to ensure a proper program.

Obviously a time frame will depend on the roles and responsibilities of your new business director, but expectations  of closed business by month 3 are not realistic.

But should you expect initial traction and that your new business director has an organized and workable process-absolutely.


All things to think about.

The average tenure of an internal new business director we’ve found is about 18 months.

Thinking about the above 5 questions/thoughts will help to ensure your new business director bucks the trend.


lee-smallPost by RSW/US Director Of Business Development Lee McKnight Jr

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.