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


Business development and the West Ham philosophy

After watching West Ham win 2-1 against Sunderland this week, it looks like they are safe and will remain in the Premier League for next season. That fact may get mixed reactions depending on your loyalties, but the season that they and their manager have endured has been one that anyone embarking on a new business campaign could well take heed of.

Change, even when things are not going your way is not always a good thing.

Entrepreneurs want quick results and they are usually prepared to make changes if the perception is something is not working. The fear of doing nothing needs to be countered by the conviction that what you are doing is right and just needs time.

At one point, Sam Allardyce had one foot in the exit door. Results were going against them. They were in the bottom three with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout the season, Swansea, West Brom, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Fulham have all found themselves in the same position. The difference being, West Ham held their nerve and put faith in their manager as the right person to lead the ship and now they have reaped the rewards of doing this.

Football is an easy analogy, but in this case, the similarity to business development is stark.

You spend days and weeks devising a strategy. You sign off the plan and it is full steam ahead with enthusiasm and gusto. That strategy may require an outsourced partner, of which you spend more days and more weeks selecting.

After all that time and effort, why would you then change everything if no business has been generated after just three months?

What you need to do is take stock and look at the results. Are the results unacceptable or are they simply unacceptable against your high expectations?

No new business agency can expect to survive or retain clients if it is not delivering, but it should be able to retain business if:

  1. It is managing clients’ expectations properly (and that means being honest about what delivery looks like)
  2. It is constantly working with the client to get things right if they are not working. That may well be due to a client side issue, but it needs dealing with

We gain an awful lot of satisfaction from working with clients through good and bad times and even more when that results in success. I recently attended a review meeting with a client. They have been with us for a year, but after their initial three months, very few meetings had been attended. We had set them, but the prospects had postponed and moved things around. Whilst it was a blameless situation, quite reasonably, the investment in telephone based prospecting was being questioned. However, we worked closely with the client and, like West Ham, they demonstrated trust in what they were doing and held their nerve. The result has been fifteen genuine opportunities to pitch for new business, with £300k of new revenue delivered in the initial year.

As a further example, a research client had been with us for twelve months, but had won nothing. Everything was right in terms of numbers, but conversions just had not happened. In their sixteenth month, they won three projects in a week. There was never a problem with the campaign. It was, like most campaigns, luck, timing and contact strategy. The one element that the client allowed us and the campaign was time. That was seven years ago and they remain a successful client today.

Yes, these case studies serve to show that we know what we are doing and can deliver successful campaigns, but the point is whether you are using us, a competitor, or a different new business strategy altogether, give it enough time to work. Nobody expects you to throw good money after bad, but new business is a long, drawn out process and, at times, you do need to trust in the decisions you have made and hold your nerve. Nine times out of ten, that will deliver better results than a constant change. Just ask Fulham, Sunderland and Cardiff.

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