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


What’s the point of a business development agency?

The same question was recently posed by Louise Cooper of financial advisers (Spectator Money, March 7th 2015) and there are strong parallels. We are both under constant pressure from our clients to perform and as a result tend to focus too much on what we can easily measure. In reports to clients, emphasis is too often placed on metrics. But this, surprisingly, is not what clients are paying for.

‘Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.’  William Bruce Cameron, Sociologist.

Just because things can be measured – like numbers of meetings or return on investment – doesn’t mean they are important. And factors that are difficult to measure such as awareness or reputation, are often ignored but shouldn’t be.

So why pay a business development agency for help? Most new business agencies display little skill in accurately identifying short term opportunities to win business or indeed delivering any significant return on investment in the medium term. Consequently these are not reasons to pay for their services.  Database information and the resource to telephone prospects is clearly of benefit to clients, but that represents only part of the reason to use a new business agency.

The most important benefit from having a business development agency is to protect clients from making bad short term decisions, in the same way that a financial adviser’s job is to protect novice investors from making the same mistakes over and over again.

Recently published research by Vanguard showed the main way an adviser adds value is by ‘being an effective behavioural coach. Helping clients maintain a long-terms perspective and a disciplined approach is arguably one of the most important elements of financial advice’. Yet again, the same applies in business development.

A business development agency’s prime purpose, then, is to keep clients focused on the long term and teach them not to make short-term decisions which are rarely profitable.

A recent BDA survey of UK agencies revealed that in the last 10 years 28% had spent over £30,000 on short term new business initiatives with no return. In short, they tried a little then gave up.

And that’s why I compare our role to that of a personal trainer. Keeping fit requires the same discipline and dedication as continuing to commit to new business.  Of course it would be easier to declare that the regime isn’t working and that you haven’t got time to go on new business meetings right now. But the truth of the matter is that unless you stick to the regime you won’t realise your long term goals.

If your long term goal is growth, our job becomes easier. Working with our clients to agree a sustained strategy where short term metrics become milestones rather than targets. We’ve even developed a whole new way of measuring strategic campaign success and we call it Campaign Equity.

Campaign Equity measures the true value of your new business investment against your strategic growth plan and includes far more than just short term elements:-

  • Lifetime value of key client wins
  • Relationships formed with prospects and their value
  • Market penetration, awareness and reputation
  • Client competencies e.g. pitch conversion
  • Campaign potential & projections
  • Future ROI
  • Effect on net profit as a result of increased turnover

88% of our clients who have committed to a long term new business plan have achieved their growth objectives.

There’s no doubt that working to long-term new plan is the secret to sustained growth and if you’re interested in your own personal trainer then give me a call.

Inspired by an article by Louise Cooper which appeared in Spectator Money, March 7th 2015

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