Biz Dev Down Under

Posted: December 12, 2012 in Agency life

I remember when I was handed the reigns to my first Digital Agency years ago – it was probably the last time I felt as nervous and excited as I did. How do you go from the safety of managing internal processes to suddenly having whopping great big $$$ targets dumped on your shoulders … and succeed!?

The weight of Biz Dev was probably the single biggest aspect which, being new to me back then, was an unknown entity. As MD this wasn’t a case of cold calling (hate that term!) but more building and managing relationships with the purse string holders and how to win their trust. So needless to say, a steep learning curve and in some ways one that was recommenced when I moved out to Aus last year given the slight, but not to be ignored nuances in business work ethic out here. So, what have I learnt?

  • People work with People. Perhaps more so than in the UK, people like to know who they are dealing with, before they want to know about the company they are dealing with. A sure way to lose business is rock up to a first meeting with a deck and poor gags to cover the uncomfortable silence when you set up the projector! Be yourself, let it flow.
  • Creds are a drag. Don’t underestimate the combined knowledge your agency has amassed over the years and don’t expect your slick portfolio to be the bees knees – good creative is a dime a dozen. Rather, understand the business problems you / your agency have solved. ROI, conversions, acquisition, creative – whatever it might be. Be clear about the business value you present.
  • Declining an opportunity can be as effective as accepting one. Over the years I’ve pushed the envelope of what my agency can comfortably do … to the detriment of the agency (targets, targets, targets!). The result is almost always poor delivery, poor relationship or poor team morale. Take confidence in what you do do and more importantly what you don’t do. Often this honesty will help nurture longer term relationship which almost always result in a more suitable work coming your way.
  • Be swift, be tolerant. Given the amount of calls I take from recruiters (recruiters take note) the ones I end up working with are those who give me space (I’m referencing all those who pound and keep requesting the inevitably pointless ‘office visit’) and act swiftly when I do turn to them. Act fast by all means, but don’t push – it’s annoying!
  • Let the drinks do the hard work! The sooner you can move from the office to the pub, the better you can get to know who you’re dealing with and what is really important to them. Nothing breaks the ice more and builds trust quicker than getting to know who you’re dealing with and letting them know of the same.
  • Listen, Idiot! If you were a fly on a wall, how do you think you come across? Be aware of yourself and at every point ask yourself – am I listening! The best art of discussion is developing the ability to listen and understand. Talk is cheap, so make sure everything you say has a point and relates to the dialogue at hand. Avoid, at all cost the temptation to say ‘Yeah, that’s great but let me tell you about ‘.
  • Don’t be a one hit wonder. Train your team to think the same when it comes to managing and building relationships. There is nothing more annoying for a client who chooses to work with you and is then met by a lacklustre team who hold very different values.

These are my learnings, would be interested to hear from others out there too!

  1. mikeboogaard says:

    A great post and agree with all points wholeheartedly. The only thing I would add, although it is suggested in a few of your tips, is: be commercially honest and transparent.

    Note the word ‘commercially’ as I am not suggesting you highlight all your flaws and open up the financials to your clients. What I mean is be yourself, ensure any deal is a win-win and treat each other respectfully. It will get you long-lasting relationships that you can be proud of.

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