Business development is breathing for your business. If we’re to stay alive, we all need to do it. Hopefully my series has helped you grasp its importance. The only thing left to worry about is where you’re going to find your next hit of biz dev brilliance.
Good business development hires come in two distinct forms. The in-house executive and the consultant. But choosing the best fit for your agency is only part of the challenge. As with all successful engagements, you have to find one with the skills, personality and drive to suit your very specific way of doing things.
I spoke with Luke Andrews, Business Development Manager at Uniform and Simon Calderbank, founder of Big Knows. Luke and Simon gave me the low down on their roles and the impact their work has on the creative agency bottom line.
With a growing team of 50+, Luke works as part of a business development department tasked with an international remit. Luke’s role is to deliver a targeted strategy aimed at Uniform’s growing body of clients in the sports industry.
The ability to surprise clients with real insight is what makes Luke’s in-house role such a boon.
“It’s not about selling a film because we can make films. I’m not just selling Uniform, I’m selling a knowledge bank.”
Experience and knowledge takes time, something Luke has benefited from his in-house role.
“Honestly, it took me 6 months to really get under the skin of what Uniform was about.”
However, time isn’t necessarily on the side of young agencies who can ill afford a 6 month bedding in period. Those agencies with fewer employees and years experience than Uniform may benefit from the experience of a time served consultant. Simon Calderbank of Big Knows understands his time with agencies comes with high expectations.
“I’m there to deliver a sales and marketing strategy as if it were my own. Agencies hire me to be the expert and they expect me to revolutionise their business development culture.”
But how many of us are really brave enough to truly trust someone else with the blood and bones of our business? For Simon, the real benefit in working as a consultant is the ability to pick and choose his clients.
“It’s not right for everyone. Some people just want to see numbers, they forget about the importance of a good fit.”
For their differences, Luke and Simon share a willingness to do more than sell; traits agency heads should look for when hiring. Harking from a traditional sales background, both view it as a primer on how not to do things.
“There’s still a negativity around business development. Clients imagine we’re only selling to meet our targets.”
The shift from targets to conversation is what’s helping to slowly change business development for creative agencies. It’s an ethos mirrored by Simon.
“I don’t sell, I help people to buy.”
Business development is a minefield which both Luke and Simon tread carefully. Perhaps knowing how to sell, but not doing so is what makes them successful in their work.