Take responsibility for new business

by Robert Sanders

There are a few indicators to signal how a marketing firm is going to do in new business – pitches won and lost for example. But numbers can’t tell the whole story. If your agency is winning new business, great – you’re probably doing most things right. But if you’re losing… well, check this short list and see if there is something you need to correct. And address any issues now, or you may end up wondering what happened and why you never won any new business.


Lead Right! Agency senior management often finds themselves working “in the agency” rather than “on the agency.” At most agencies, senior management is trapped into the role of being the number one skill player. That’s like a football coach trying to run with the ball. Get off the field and let your agency advance the play. Set expectations and train your staff.

Position Right! Agencies have been out positioned by the consultants and the brand specialists. Agencies are forced to deal with lower level functionaries on the client side in conference rooms while major decisions are made at the CEO level in the boardroom. Reposition your agency with a consulting side and an advertising side. Set your firm up for long-term growth. Run around client-side junior coordinators that don’t have the brains or the talent to give your creative staff solid direction.

Grow Right! New business must be focused on lead generation. New business is the lifeblood of the business and leads are the heartbeat. Your new business effort needs to be split into winning the opportunity and winning the account. Find and identify hundreds of clients who are unhappy and want to change their marketing communication companies.

Prospect Right! Selecting your list of prospects is one of the most important decisions your firm makes. Work hard to discover the right prospects without spending all of your time searching and sorting. Locate the best prospects quickly and efficiently by “raking” the market – strong outreach that nudges a wide range of prospects on a regular basis. Ensure your team understands how to move from simple awareness with best prospects to a solid relationship, a critical transition in the new business cycle.

Close Right! The number one objective on any prospect first visit is to move them firmly towards selecting your agency. You need to close the account quickly, often within 48 hours, certainly within 7 days. This is a critical mindset your people need to adopt before representing your firm at an important first-meeting with a prospect. Never forget that the most important step in closing an account begins with the first visit you make on that account.

Given the limited time most ad folks have to focus on new business, make sure your time is value-added. That means if you’re not sure how to handle one, or more, of the above reach out and find someone who can give you the greatest bang for the buck.

Or order in a DayOne right away. It’ll bring clarity to your efforts, consensus to your management team, and peace of mind to you that you are getting serious about new business and taking positive first steps.