When Upfront launched in 2005, it was a with a clear vision – to help our clients win new business. 12 years on we have been involved in winning over £100 million of new business with high profile wins including the likes of Adidas, John Lewis, Virgin Money, American Express, Hotels.com, BT, Volvo, Panasonic, Vue, GSK and Expedia, to name a few.
We’ve seen first hand what impact a big win can have on a business. By getting your new business targeting right, you can start to get closer to winning the right type of clients for you. Sometimes this will take you into a new sector, get you working with a brand that your team are excited by, allow you to do something a bit different, help raise your profile, and win work with the right type of budgets to make it all worthwhile.
Your network, referrals and inbound leads will always be a good source of client work for you, but you have very little say over who this is with, or the scope of work that comes your way. Proactive Business Development can enable you to better shape the type of opportunities in your pipeline and the future direction and success of your business. However, Business Development takes a lot of time, effort and persistence – and the rewards aren’t usually instant.
Some companies will have a dedicated Business Developer who can concentrate on this all the time, but it’s still a challenging role and requires a specialist skill set. For many companies it will be down to their Senior Management or Client delivery teams, who have to find time in already busy days to meet prospective new clients, identify opportunities and pitch for new business. This can all be very time consuming and is not tangible until you win the business, making it difficult to prioritise when you have demanding fee paying clients to keep happy. However, it is critically important and over the long term, can be very rewarding to your business.
Whilst the marketing industry likes to talk about the big pitches (just read Campaign), a lot of Business Development can go under the radar and often does not get the recognition it deserves. Whilst it is a vitally important function, a majority of your company will be oblivious to the work that has had to go into winning a new client. If Business Development is done well, a regular flow of clients can be taken for granted and focus will quickly switch to the work that has to go into deliver on each of them.
The person who first identified a contact, worked out an angle and started the conversation is often long forgotten in the process. Whether it’s outsourced or in-house, this shouldn’t be the case. Business Development is a challenging but very rewarding role – the highs of a win and the recognition are usually what they thrive on. That’s why at Upfront we make a big deal out of it and like to celebrate every win, which is why we are always inspired and looking for the next one.
Winning business drives our culture, we know every win is different and each one will have a story behind it. We like to share these to help inspire future wins: the brand, the value, or whatever makes that win particularly special, sometimes it’s the approach or the challenges that were involved. We remember all of our wins and still get just as excited when the next one arrives – which did last week with Lush Cosmetics, well done Sam!
To celebrate the last 12 years of clients wins, we will be hosting drinks on the 27th April at the Crown Tavern in Clerkenwell. This will also see the launch of #BDSocial.
Business Development is a team effort and we have been lucky to work with some fantastic agencies and brilliant people. We’ve experienced a vast range of different approaches and it can be inspiring to see just how much our clients put into winning the opportunities we generate. We believe there is a lot we can all learn from each other, therefore we will be hosting #BDSocial which we hope will help bring together like minded professionals to share insight, experience and best practice.
Click here if you’d like to join us.