There is still time to close off the deals in your current pipeline, but already many of us will have one eye on next year. Over the coming weeks you will have competing priorities for space in your diary, but now is the time to make sure you are all set to fly out the blocks next year – and to lay the foundations to make sure you win big in 2018.
Here is a useful checklist of things for you to do before the end of the year:
1. Review and Reflect
How has the year gone for you? Make sure you take time to understand where your wins have come from: new business, inbound or referral? What is a typical lead time for you and when has business been won? Calculate your pitch conversion rate and look at what you are you doing well, and more importantly, where you can improve. Collect feedback on pitches you have lost to avoid making the same mistakes and up your game. Next year you will be more efficient and smarter if you commit to developing your approach.
2. Set Your Goals
Make sure you understand what success should look like. Clearly define your Business Development goals to ensure you know what you want to achieve. How many clients are you trying to win? What type of clients? Make sure this matches your commercial goals which will usually be dependent on fame, fortune and fit. Once you’ve defined these goals you will understand how many clients you are looking to win and at what value. You can then work backwards based on reviewing performance from this year to project what you will need to put into the programme to deliver on this.
3. Get your targeting right
Make sure you take time to get your targeting exactly right. The best thing about new business, is that you can choose who you want to talk to. Take this opportunity to make sure you choose brands that you really want to work with, match up with your new business goals and fit your agency sweet spot.
4, Make sure you have tools in place
Tools such as our own new business tool, Upstream will provide you with all the data and insight you need. Making sure you have a highly segmented data with the latest decision makers for your target clients, contact details, new hires, incumbent agencies, technology being used and latest news will make you far more effective. Other tools such as Hubspot or Act-On can help you track prospect engagement with your content and identify future leads.
5. Develop a Campaign Plan
Once you are clear on who you want to target, work out when is the best time to approach them. This will largely depend on the sectors you are focusing on and the type of business you do. What industry events are taking place, when the busy times are – and when planning takes place. We recommend planning a calendar of campaigns throughout the year to give you a clear focus and approach each sector at the right time. Then look at what content you will have to maximize the impact of this – new client work, case studies, events, awards, industry reports, etc.
6. Make sure you have a good CRM system
Salesforce may be a bit heavy for many agencies, but with great free tools available such as HubspotCRM and other cost effective solutions as Pipedrive, there really is no excuse to still be using excel! Then make sure you have it configured to help you effectively manage and report on your new business targets.
7. Read up on GDPR
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important change in data privacy regulation in two decades and comes into play on 25 May 2018. You will need to take into account best practices as you build strategies to communicate with prospects and provide a robust data management system to track engagement and honour ‘opt outs’. By refining data and ensuring that your messaging is targeted and content is relevant, you will put yourself in the best position not only to comply with the GDPR legislation, but stand a much better chance of building relationships with prospective clients in the future.
8. Keep up to date
The end of the year is a good time to catch up with suppliers, partners, professional bodies and intermediaries. Make sure you have everything up to date and you are top of mind with each of them going into the New Year. It’s also a good idea to review your supplier listings on different sites, whether it’s your agency profile on Creative Brief, Drum RAR, Econsultancy or Figaro Digital, make sure these are all providing the best representation and giving you the greatest chance to drive new opportunities next year.
9. Set Milestones
Business Development takes time. It’s therefore crucial to set clear and measurable objectives along the way to keep you on track. Understand what needs to go into the pipeline in terms of effective conversations, engagement and meetings to carefully manage your activity to keep a regular flow of progress. And clearly define your pipeline stages to help you project future new business success.
10. Invest in your future success
The landscape is rapidly changing and you are competing with over 20,000 agencies. Business Development done well can be the difference. Make sure you have the right team in place and understand where you need to invest in training and external expertise to support their success.
Make sure you plan now to win big in 2018
Often new business success will be down to good timing and a bit of luck, but by planning now, you can make sure that your agency delivers real new business success and growth in 2018.
And if you need some help?
We would enjoy the opportunity to discuss this with you in more detail and share our experience and insight, please get in contact if you’d like to chat further about how to approach Business Development in 2018 and how we can help.