Adweek recently published an article titled “The Changing Role of Rainmakers”. In the article they quote Michael Zuna, MD of Saatchi & Saatchi NY as saying “The Mad Men rainmaker days – – that doesn’t happen anymore. It’s a tough job.”
Why, because client reviews in recent years have become more complicated, given the expanded client needs, increased presence of search consultants, holding company led contests and participation of procurement executives.
The new business role has traditionally been an onerous one that was not suited for the feint at heart. Only the most confident and brave ventured to take on the role knowing that they would live or die by the question, “So what have you done for me today?”
In fact only a week or so ago I received an email in response to one of my posts from a new business professional at a leading interactive agency. In the email he said and I quote, “I would like to believe that working on new business in an agency no longer carries the stigma of, your days at the agency are numbered.”
I believe that his words may in fact be prophetic. Today, a knowledgeable and accomplished new business professional today is worth their weight in gold. (And that’s significant, especially at the current price per ounce) In addition, they are few in number and relatively hard to find. The Adweek article describes situations where large agency groups have been searching for the right person for twelve months or more.
What makes these individuals so special and so hard to find? These are my thoughts on what those reasons might be.
The successful new business professional of today has to be skilled at:
- Leveraging all channels and new media to target the right prospects and start an ongoing dialogue that could ultimately convert to a new client. Everything from social media to SEO/M to network relationships.
- Building relationships with all levels within the client company. Given the complex client marketing structures, seldom is there one key decision maker any more.
- Demonstrating broad business knowledge and especially a keen understanding of the target client’s category and business. The slick presentation approach devoid of any real insights no longer works.
- Listening, reading people and presenting. The ability to ask the right questions and then listen to answers is paramount. So much information is provided by most clients in the early stages however, agency people are usually too busy looking for the next opportunity to talk, versus listening to the answers.
- Utilizing sales management software and sharing information. It’s no longer about an individual’s personal Rolodex. It’s about efficient targeting and tracking of communications and, involving the right talent from the broader agency team, to help provide relevant fresh thinking.
In summary, the new business professional of today is in fact a hybrid. Someone who is able to combine a selection of skills that you would expect to find in other roles including those of the CEO, business analyst, sales professional, marketing strategist and media/technology expert. This allows them to talk intelligently about the client’s business, across all levels of the organization, and establish a positive perception of agency value.