Nobody wants to be in new business development. It’s the job that most everyone shuns in an agency because it is:
- Sales (spit at the ground twice)
- Too open-ended a process that can lead to no discernible outcome
- Deemed neither intellectually nor creatively rigorous or rewarding
- Full of personal rejection (ha!)
Let’s face it, being a chief new-revenue generator appears to be a thankless job. If you read Advertising Age, and especially the Small Agency Diary blog, it’s a wonder that the rate of involuntary institutionalization among new business types isn’t astronomical. Take as an example the blog’s most recent post on the topic, “Marketers exhibit cad-like behavior at the RFP ball.“
There is nothing in that reasoned and perfectly well-written post that isn’t true. Nor is there anything in it that is new. As revenue wranglers, we relive and retell the same stories again and again. Could it be that these things will never change, or do we just like to wallow in our woes? Maybe both, but here’s the skinny:
- Winning new business is an endless, and often thankless, process. But it is a necessary one for both agencies and the companies that issue those RFPs and agency showdowns.
- The process is inconsistent, sometimes chaotic and even unfair at times. By all means feel frustrated by it, but also do your best to just deal with it.
- As I have written in the past, agencies can control what kind of and how much pain they’re willing to bear by thinking strategically and behaving systematically when it comes to business development.
Look, I grouse about this state of affairs, too. Yet the war stories are fascinating to recount, even without the embellishments. I even admit that they’re fun to tell and hear. Still, I reject the “business development is so much rejection” sop. When done with vision, leadership and pragmatism, business development for agencies is strategic, creative, intelligent and deeply rewarding.