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Communication is Key to Success!

May 07, 2008

Industry Observations

Whether it’s your partner, friend or business colleague, communication is vital for a successful relationship. This holds especially true in the world of new business development. It’s come to my attention that all too often new business specialists appear to be on an island unto themselves and are only noticed when a new prospect is knocking on the door. Unfortunately this sad truth seems to play out a lot in small agencies across America and one can only hope that change is forthcoming.

I think it’s fair to say that new business development is a concept that as a profession may not be wholly understood by agency principals which has lead to some of the issues I’ve observed in our industry. Just recently I read a question from an agency president in an Ad Age blog about how to compensate a new business person. I doubt very much that the same question would be asked of a copywriter or an art director. I believe that most agency owners feel they know what business development is about but don’t fully comprehend nor appreciate the nuances, tasks, and activities associated with this role. Perhaps the reason for this is that in most agencies the business development person is a non-billable individual and as such is viewed as overhead not unlike a personal assistant or someone in the accounting department.

Since “a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush” I wonder if agency principals forget how valuable a new business person can be and that keeping them informed of everything the agency does is critical since they can use this information to help position the agency with new clients. If the new business person is doing their job then they are ultimately filling the funnel with new opportunities which represent the billable client of tomorrow. Hence why some consider new business the life blood of the agency! Keeping this person in the dark or informed on an as needed bases is wrong and counterproductive. They need to know when things are going well for an agency and when things are not going so well so they can prepare and react accordingly.

Those relationships that are marked by open lines of communication and collaboration between senior management and the new business specialist tend to be the most successful ones in our business.

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