The larger my agencies became the further away from the actual business I found myself. Important internal meetings like the annual legal review, the building committee meeting, auditor review meetings etc just seemed to suck up more and more of my time. Eventually I realized that I had become ostensibly disconnected from the heartbeat of the agency.
While we all intuitively know that the CEO and Presidents role is to be an inspiring leader, set the vision and mission, establish and promote agency values etc., we seem to invariably forget about their responsibility to new business development. I often both see and hear the responsibility for developing new business delegated to the VP. Business Development or the larger new business department, and yes, they do play a material role.
The CEO and President play a pivotal role as it relates to both organic growth and external new business development! They should wake up every day of their lives thinking about business development and what they should be doing to promote it.
I cannot think of a better example than Microsoft’s decision in 2004 to consolidate $400-500 million in global direct-marketing billings at the Young & Rubicam companies and McCann-Erickson World Group. This decision was a head-turner in size and scope. There is absolutely no doubt that the lead architect of this deal was Sir Martin himself.
More recently, the announcement that Wunderman had snagged the bulk of these responsibilities from MRM is yet another great example: “Wunderman Snags All of Microsoft’s DM.”
I know Wunderman’s CEO, Daniel Morel personally and I can tell you that there is probably no better role model out there. He never stops looking for new opportunities, both with existing and prospective clients. He is constantly networking and passing on leads and opportunities to network offices. When I worked for him, it was incredible having him be part of my team because you knew he was flying air cover for you all the time. And that’s what great CEO’s and Presidents do.
Most new business development professionals do not often get the opportunity to network at the “C” level in client companies. Their contacts may go as high as the CMO but seldom up to the CEO, COO or CFO. In addition most CMO’s and their reports tend to more focused on the business at hand. Most often they do not have the appetite or authority to consider those big game changing ideas, that just might be the next breakthrough for the business. They are more focused on sales and results now.
My advice to all senior agency leadership out there is to make sure that you leverage what should be one of your most powerful new business weapons in your arsenal. Your CEO or President. They should be constantly networking with the senior management of both existing and prospective clients on an ongoing basis. Taking them out to meet an existing client once a year or that prospective client at the final pitch, is not a winning new business strategy.