It is inevitable. You work your pipeline diligently, and all you hear is crickets. You post, email, call, knock, cocktails, golf, call, knock, $%@&?! Is there anyone out there? The Account Director taps her foot waiting. The Creative Director cocks his head wondering. The CFO recalculates the forecast. You then begin to doubt, second-guess, and wish you had a do-over on that last call. The cold hard truth about advertising agency new business development begins to set in. It's really hard.
And when you think you can’t take it any longer, you get the call. Absolutely would like to show you what we can do. And then, another call. You bet we can meet tomorrow. And then the email. Sure we are available Thursday. The floodgates open, the opportunities roll in, and now you have too much new business. They are all good ones but how can you handle such disruption to the agency without compromising existing relationships and still do winning work?
Once the panic subsides, follow a few simple steps to manage the influx of new work smartly. First, don’t stress. Deep breath. Gather your leadership together and lay out the opportunities for everyone to weigh in. Give everyone a say about these five decision points.
• Do they all F.I.T.*
• Do we have the resources, bandwidth, and passion
• Do we know partners, consultants, freelancers we can tap
• Do the math and rank by profitability
• Don’t be afraid to say NO. One win is better than three misses.
Make a decision, together and unanimously – all in
Now divide and conquer. Decide who is best suited to lead each opportunity whether by experience or expertise and especially passion. As an agency owner, you have to be involved in all. However, you also have to delegate. Let your people own the pitch with your guidance. There is no better way to expand your agency's capacity to grow, increase capabilities, groom expertise and staff leadership. And there is no other way to reduce the disruption across the agency.
Each pitch leader should find a partner to help, to be a sounding board, and challenge, push and fuel the process. Keep a diligent eye on resource utilization and the pace of each team to make sure research, strategy, creative, media, and all groups have adequate time to contribute and are properly sequenced with the progress of each pitch. Give teams the incentive to use off hours to minimize client disruptions. And above all, be their biggest cheerleader. It might not be exactly how you would do it, but it will get done and get done well.
When the work is done and the dust settles, but before you know if you’ve won, hold a postmortem with all teams together. Encourage open, honest discussion about what went right and what went wrong. Make a list of the wrong and pull it out for every new pitch. Running multiple pitches can provide a wealth of insight into your processes and improve your overall performance both internally and in the win column.
Oh, &%@$?! I've got to take this call, and another email, and another RFP.
*Review new client F.I.T. Financial qualification – can you make money? Internal resources – can you handle it? Tactical value – does it support your agency growth plans?
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