Everyone’s a Salesperson When New Business Slows
For this post, I want to give a shout-out-to all of you in the new business trenches, every mighty salesperson, whether you’re a new business director or a partner at your firm.
It’s no newsflash to point out that this business is hard.
A short, entertaining story to illustrate my point (at my expense):
When I started at RSW almost 13 years ago, I was a new business director, so I had my own agency clients I represented, driving new business for them.
For one client, I was reaching out to a fairly large chain retailer focused on footwear. Over the course of multiple touches, I was able to secure a conversation with this CMO, with the ultimate goal of securing a meeting for my client.
We exchanged emails where the CMO ultimately asked I call her (remember this part) on a specific day and time to talk a prospective fit with my agency.
The day and time arrived the following week and I made the call-here’s how the very brief conversation went:
Me: Hi, CMO of a large chain retailer focused on footwear, thanks again for the opportunity to talk.
CMO: (Silence, for what felt like an eternity, but was probably only a few seconds) Who is this?
Me: Lee McKnight, with X agency. We had this time set to discuss a potential fit with our agency services.
CMO-You have got to stop bothering me.
Me: (Very perplexed at this stage of the game) Well. . .you actually asked that I call you.
CMO: (Another pause) I don’t have time for this. CLICK.
Yep, that happened. And to be fair, she was probably just having a really bad day, but that’s the kind of thing salespeople go through.
And look, everybody’s job is hard, but when it comes specifically to sales, if you’re not living it every day, there’s a tendency to forget that, and then the impatience sets in.
Fast forward to today and I traded emails with a VP of new business in the last few weeks who summed it up quite well:
When things are going great everyone is calm and smoking cigars, but when things go south just a little bit, everyone wants to be a salesperson.
I’ve seen this happen many times, and while I see both sides, it’s tough when agency leadership decides to get involved where there was little involvement previously.
Ultimately, It is all about the long game.
4 months, for example, is not the length of a new business effort, it’s only the beginning.
You have to give yourself time, and be given time, to succeed.
Now, that doesn’t mean you keep someone in the new business role if they aren’t delivering, but you also don’t cut them off 3 or 4 months in.
I’ve talked to agencies who look at new business as a separate series of try-outs, all short game.
In the meantime, agencies who understand what it takes are taking your business, playing the long game.
Don’t let that happen.