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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or email Amanda Francis


Get the best from your new business agency relationship

It’s the old cliché of you get out what you put in, but it is all too true when working with almost any supplier, and this is amplified if you engage with a business development agency. You have budgeted for a significant amount of money and taken the bold step of handing over a core business activity to an outside company.

However, it is not that simple. We can’t conjure new business from thin air. Cold new business is a tough process and we, along with any other new business agency, are only as good as the effort both parties put in. There is no doubt that a collaborative approach works the best, not only in terms of results, but also as an enjoyable working experience. Communication and relationship are everything. After working with c.500 marketing agencies over 11 years, these are my top tips for maximising your new business agency:

1. Get off on the right foot:

Set the partnership up from day one. You will have shared some business objectives and goals before making your decision to use us, but be open with your designated New Business Manager. We are genuinely interested in how your business is structured, your core vision for the future and your objectives from the relationship. You would share this with an internal recruit, so why not your agency.

2. Invest time in the briefing process:

Inducting your New Business Manager into your agency is key. Take them around to meet and talk to key personnel as hearing about your company from a number of viewpoints gives a well-rounded picture. Your caller needs to feel part of the team and this undoubtedly helps.

Really take the time to give a full briefing on your company. We know you have been through it a thousand times before, but we haven’t. It is new and exciting and we want to hear about why you set the company up and the ethos and philosophy behind it. Often there are gems, which can work wonders on the phone. Give us as much as you can and we will take the relevant “sales” parts from it.

3. Case studies, case studies, case studies:

These are the most important sales tools we have. We will guide you as to the ideal format, and as always, quantifiable results are gold dust. It is well worth spending time in creating great looking case studies, which can be used as a sales tool for your caller and also by you in new business meetings.

4. Be passionate:

All our clients are passionate about their work and achievements and this really filters through to your New Business Manager. It is a requirement of both parties, but getting the enthusiasm you feel for your company and your work to manifest itself in your caller can only come from you. They need to leave that initial briefing feeling inspired to sell your business.

5. Communicate:

The briefing is the starting point. We will keep you updated of progress, but you need to commit to do the same. It is rare, but occasionally we have worked with agencies who have been “too busy” to take our calls for weeks on end. We can’t work effectively like that. We never lose sight of two things.

  • You are paying us to do a good job
  • We are taking responsibility for your business growth and frankly, personal success

6. Keep your agency updated:

It is the hardest thing to do. You have just finished a great project and moved onto the next. The former is confined to history. Take time to tell us about it and write up a case study. We love going back to prospects with something fresh to say and it gives your agency the air of vibrancy and success.

7. Feedback:

It is not always 100% positive, but we need to know in order to change or develop our approach. Once you have been on a meeting, let us know straight away if it was good, bad or ugly. Let us know why and let us know what the next step is. A good meeting needs to be followed up on and we need to agree when and by whom. That way we can drive the process.

More importantly, your New Business Manager likes a pat on the back for a job well done, so make sure you send that email or make that call after a great appointment.

8. Honesty:

We give you total permission to be honest with us (you are paying us after all), but we need the same. If you have concerns, we want to nip them in the bud. If something is not working on the phone, we want to let you know and agree a new strategy or direction. We don’t like surprises, so please tell us if something is keeping you awake at night.

We don’t always get it right first time, but if we don’t know, we can’t fix it.

9. Manners:

It costs nothing. Treat us, and your caller as you would treat your own staff. Rudeness and disrespectful behaviour will not get the results you are looking for. It adds an additional pressure that can only be detrimental. As previously mentioned, if things aren’t going as well as they might, one thing you can be assured of is that we will die trying to change that. Work collaboratively with us and we will both reap the rewards.

10. Enjoy it:

We create a fun and rewarding environment at Alchemis and a big part of that is the quality of the clients we work with. We enjoy working with a diverse range of interesting clients and we want you to enjoy working with us. If together we ensure all points above are covered, I assure you that will be the case.

2 thoughts on “Get the best from your new business agency relationship

  1. These are a great list, Jim. I’d add in another one which has worked for me when introducing both a new biz dev person and also new team members. Go out on a few meetings together.

    When a new joiner comes with me to a meeting – they hear first hand my version of our elevator pitch, how I answer key questions about the agency and track record. Afterwards, have a coffee and let them ask you anything they need to clarify understanding. On the third meeting, get them to do the two minute introduction about the agency.

    I let them make mistakes too and only correct the omissions in the meeting leaving the opportunity to have a discussion in the cafe afterwards about what was said and how it could be improved.

    Would that fit with your business model?

  2. Jim Piper says:

    My response is twofold and based on:

    1) Inducting new staff members into Alchemis.

    I agree with your approach to introducing/inducting new staff. We take a similar approach and often our new staff members will attend our new business meetings as well as observe client meetings with the experienced New Business Managers. Internally, We also treat Alchemis as a client and use it as a training and induction tool. New sales people joining will be making calls and arranging appointments on behalf of Alchemis before they work on our clients. This gives them a thorough understanding of us, our ethos and our processes. We never lose sight of the fact that we are representing our clients and their reputations, hence NBMs only work on behalf of clients once we are 100% confident in their approach.

    2) Inducting New Business Managers into a client and their proposition:

    Often we are also asked by our clients if the New Business managers could attend credentials meetings with them. Traditionally, as I’m sure you will appreciate, time is the new business agency’s biggest challenge, but there is no doubt that additional investment in the relationship from both parties can only be beneficial, so it is about getting the balance right. Sometimes, clients don’t feel comfortable taking their new business person to a creds meeting/pitch, but I agree wholeheartedly with you that it is a great way to really get a feel for an offer and undoubtedly the enthusiasm a client will have when presenting their agency, as opposed to the boardroom environment of an internal briefing, will be infectious and rub off.

    Our clients buy our time, so if apportioning some of that to attend a meeting with them is something that will benefit their campaign in the long run, then absolutely. Recently, New Business Managers have attended credentials meetings, manned stands at exhibitions and attended seminars where their clients are speaking, all receiving positive feedback from both parties. However impartial our processes and systems, at the end of the day, it is only human nature that our callers will want to ensure they deliver a great campaign for the clients that have invested that time and gone the extra mile to make them fee a valued part of their team.

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