Ad Agency Biz Dev: Going the Sales Route…? Part II

Continuing from Part I, on the differences between Biz Dev and Sales as it now applies in the ad agency world, let us look at some ways to address the new pressures on agencies in acquiring clients. This in part will mean the adaptation more, of Sales skills by those in the BizDev world.

To succeed going forward, there is no doubt that sales skills are going to be required to win new Agency business. Account reviews now occur at the drop of a hat (or the drop of a stock price, loss of a CMO, or almost anything else imaginable.)

More, disruptions in market channels, divisions of companies bought & sold, new Media specialties springing up in the digital age; all of these contribute now to the rapid pace of agency/client turnover. That is the reality in 2012.

What will be required to succeed, if you are on the BizDev side going forward?

Since we established in Part I that Many Relationships/Fewer Transactions is a hallmark of most Sales efforts, right away most BizDev pros (for whom Fewer Relationships/ Many Ongoing Transactions is the norm) will need to take a page, and observe some of the skills championed & taught by greats such as Tom Hopkins, Dale Carnegie, and Tony Robbins. Or, maybe from some of the newer names on the scene; S. Anthony Iannarino, Dave Brock, or Jeffrey Gitomer with his great works.

That includes prospecting. Often. It includes asking for the business. And it includes relentlessly probing any & all clients/prospects for needs, changes in their business, and future products/services.

Much less, it will include the warm, consistent “relationship” you might have, with just a few current clients (and that’s it.)

Then we come to what is likely the most foreign object on the horizon for most BizDev pros: the Procurement Department.

From what we read in the Trades now, it is the bane of existence for agencies far & wide. Yet, for Sales pros, the Procurement Dep’t is just one more step in the process. You either deal with it…them…or you are destined to fail.

So, start by understanding what they do, why do it, and what they are there for. Then see our tips below towards more success.

What then are some overall best practices for BizDev pros, in dealing with this unfamiliar entity?

  • Understand the two most important things about them: [1] They are there to procure the best possible products/services for their company at the best possible pricing. And that [2]…they are there to do this, by dealing with Sales professionals!.
  • This means you are not going to ‘get around them.’ So why bother?
  • With that overview, here are some more specifics for the Agency world:

  • Given the fact that most agencies deal in “intangibles”, the best strategy is to define what the Client wants/needs to start. Really delve.
  • Then separately, you need to understand (as much as possible, anyway) the dynamics at play with Procurement: how much influence will they really have, will they bring others in to approve that you won’t get access to, or are they just going to rubber-stamp whatever recommendation they get?
  • By definition on this last one, if you get even 20% of what you need, consider yourself lucky. It is not info that they really want you to have. (But if you are good…you will get the info anyway, of course. Because that is what you do when you are that good!)
  • No Procurement Dep’t is likely to buy a ‘great idea’ without some defined context of how it might be executed and/or value might be gained. Frame your approach with this in mind.
  • So then, you will need to build ways, with your ideas, to make the case that your agency…and only your agency…can provide the successful solution needed to this client.
  • In the end, the ultimate, most optimal strategy really is to build a ‘moat’ around your entire offering if possible, so that it becomes very difficult for Procurement to find what you offer, for less.
  • Are we missing any key points? What other ideas will work in landing new Agency business? Let us know.


    ~ by MindOnMediaSales on March 17, 2012.

    3 Responses to “Ad Agency Biz Dev: Going the Sales Route…? Part II”

    1. Interesting study here, from the 11/9/2012 Center for Media Research article, entitled, ‘Attracting New Agency Business’. See the Link –

    2. Interesting to now see several articles on the subject of Ad Agency’s & Procurement Dept’s…this one on the turmoils within a client, PepsiCo, dealing with their own dep’t itself. Very interesting read:

    3. 5/15/2012 – The following AdAge article looks at the flip side of this piece in dealing with Procurement Dept’s, as a new pursuit among ad agency BizDev pros.

      See it here –

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