The Mark Of A Truly Great New Business Director 

The Mark Of A Truly Great Agency New Business Director    

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The ongoing new business challenge for agencies: who drives new business? Is it the principals, a new business hire, a firm like ours

And if it’s a new hire, how to find that truly great agency new business director?

All the above options are, of course, viable, although agencies tend to go the hiring route. 

We’ve written quite a few posts around it, and in my own self-serving way I’ll point out that new business directors at an agency last, on average, 18 months. (I know, but I just couldn’t resist). 

Why is that though? 

It’s not like the talent isn’t out there, although it’s not easy, but they are out there. 

I want to focus on a few reasons why in this post, several that have become more self-evident since CoVID-19 but remain true regardless of the situation. 

I Love Networking 

As you’re interviewing, be especially careful of candidates whose predominant experience lies in outside sales. 

I’m not suggesting they aren’t viable candidate, but unfortunately, outside sales positions have of course been hit lately. 

If this candidate’s main method of prospecting has been networking events, local happy hours, etc., you need to dig deeper and ask questions around their inside sales experienceespecially now. 

And especially if your agency works with clients outside your region, which many/most do. 

With travel restricted, you need to have confidence in that individual that they don’t need to jump on a plane or be face-to-face in a room to get that first meeting and get through the door. 

Ask about their past resources 

Along those same lines, be sure to include questions around what materials they used to prospect in previous positions. 

Did they have a marketing team that provided case studies and decks, for example? 

Or did they have to create those on their own? 

Was there any type of thought leadership content created they were able to use? 

If there was a team, or person, who supported her/him, were they able to break through doors and use those effectively? 

If they didn’t have that support, did they take the initiative and create something on their own? 

Which leads to another vital question: 

Ask what they’ve done when they didn’t have those resources 

It’s a question we ask potential candidates when we’re hiring. 

Even if an agency starts a new business effort with multiple case studies, decks,and thought leadership, there will be a moment in time when the new business director has used all those materials quite a bit. 

And typically, it’s tough to create fresh material like case studies ongoing, clients tend to get in the way.  (Pesky clients) 

Or conversely, maybe that new business director doesn’t have anything much to use at all. 

The Mark Of A Truly Great New Business Director 

The Mark Of A Truly Great Agency New Business Director 

In both situations I mention above, a great salesperson still finds a way. 

To use a very trite cliché, it is where the rubber very much hits the proverbial road. 

If a candidate’s answer to the question of how they broke through with little or no resources involves them doing something in-person, be wary. 

That type of activity will of course return in time, but even when it does, does this person plan to constantly get on planes to get the business? 

There is a time when that should happen, and top of the funnel activity is not it. 

When you ask what they’ve done when they didn’t have those resources, the answer should boil down to this: 

Google Is Your Friend 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen new business directors at agencies fail because they get to that point and can’t deliver. 

New business is never easy, but it’s certainly easier when you’re flush with new case studies and content. 

It’s when you have very little that great salespeople thrive. 

And they do so because there will ALWAYS be some piece of third-party content around your vertical to use. 


A great new business director takes that noncompetitive piece of content and shapes it into a concise piece of prospecting content that immediately shows,

We are experts in this space. We know your industry and we can potentially help you.

If you’re looking to hire internally for a new business role, you have to ask these questions. 

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.