New Business, New Normal, No Nonsense


not the hot seat

image: stephen berner

In my business life, I am, when it comes right down to it – a New Business Development Executive.

There, I said it.

Mistakes Made, lessons learned

It’s odd, looking at it now, that in my “Arts” existence, I beat the Social Media and Content drum mercilessly, but yet my professional side has until recently stayed quiet.

I might mumble something here or there on LinkedIn, but for the most part, its only through dialogue with me, that you’ll learn how I can help a business create a sustainable pipeline of opportunity, in a natural honest way – It’s what I’ve learned to do.

Why speak up now?

What caused this change? Why share now?
Why should I say anything at all, and most of all, why should you care?

Marketing-services businesses wanting to increase client head-count and revenue, seem to have given up differentiating between Sales and New Business. I don’t think this is a fabulous idea.

There is a difference between New Business and Sales, at least there should be IMSHO.

The plain truth

 Straight up, nobody wants to be sold….

A prospective clients (they are not prey, so please lets not be hunters, ok?) job often depends on their selecting the right marketing partners, and so, if there ever wasn’t a time to “sell (or hunt)”, that’s it, in my opinion. It is though, a great opportunity to develop a relationship that may potentially lead to business.

At home, inside with the team, If a New Business exec is good, they become strategic cheerleaders, and if they are  are respected – they represent the “prospective clients” POV, in a very direct way, during internal agency development.

I say, based on hard learned experience, that its better to be tough and pummel your ideas, before you get in front of a prospect (or client)…. It’s a hard role, doesn’t make you popular with your team, because you push back hard and directly with the: so what, we don’t need it, how does that improve business or earn revenue, a competitor called us with a better solution, etc.

Only after an afternoon of beating up your ideas, putting them through the wringer, so to speak, are you able to clearly identify the value, benefit, and nature of why someone should work with you.

image: stephen benrer

image: stephen benrer

If the case you present as an agency makes sense, I mean truly makes sense, and you’ve qualified your prospect, you have a great chance of making a deal. If its not clear what the value of your proposal is, or your not able to articulate the reasons why someone should break with their current partner and work with you – you are not going to get anywhere.

Not staying involved

So back to my mistakes… One mistake I’ve made, in the past, was to not stay, in some way, shape or form attached to the Clients that I successfully helped on-board.

For the most part, I left the table once the deal was done, papers signed, and “real work” began. This was a mistake for a few reasons, the main reason being that the client, whom I developed a relationship with, and knew so much about, was not happy that I was no longer involved, sans a lunch here or there.

I forgot that clients work with us because they like us, trust us – as much as for the portfolio of  case studies referencing past glories we’ve shared. They’ve opted to work with use because of who we are, and what we’ve invested in learning “their business”.

image: stephen berner

image: stephen berner

Getting Shorted

When handing off a new client, I often lost touch with these once close contacts. I was off and running somewhere else and they were in the hands of my team.

I learned some hard lessons from these experiences, and from asking my new clients, what they thought or felt about my leaving the scene. I learned that the Client buys into the team in front of them – and since I was usually front and center, they bought into working with, or at least having me involved at the periphery.

Something else I learned was that if you earn something, you treat it more carefully, than if it was simply given to you.

I LOVED my clients and they knew it (probably because I told them). I worked for a long time to get them to believe, take the chance and work with my Company and become clients and so, I became heavily invested and knowledgeable about their businesses, and them personally.

Once handed off to an Account Executive, the spark often wasn’t there… I was told more than once that it felt like Bait & Switch, and so I spent as much time trying to excite and inform my team as possible before on-boarding happened, and in instances where the AE’s weren’t territorial, kept in touch with our clients. This worked out well for all parties involved, as I was able to broker conversations between parties discreetly.

image: stephen berner

image: stephen berner


New Business is a hot seat, its right next to the engine room of a business. It’s where shit happens – all the time.

There is no escaping the heat and intensity – and by virtue of that characteristic, you learn some great and useful things from the people around you and experiences that being “out there” and in the middle of it provides. Because it is so hot at times,  most new business people stay in the seat for a few short years, then move on.

There are consultants selling insights, hope and process, but really  – there is no magic.  As it turn out, New Business is a company’s lifestyle choice. They either embrace the commitment to new business and moving forward at the cellular level, or it will forever remain an enigma, a game of luck and fortune, a bolt-on in the truest sense.

I think embedding New Business in a company’s DNA is the smartest way to go.