BL&T No. 172: New Business As An Agency-Wide Initiative

Agency Leadership

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


"True client-centricity starts with understanding the client’s context and challenges. We should be asking the Client Partnership Craft to focus on qualifying and articulating a client’s biggest problems, not to have them learn and promote the ins and outs of our products."

From "Madison Avenue Makeover: The transformation of Huge and the redefinition of the ad agency business" by Michael Farmer [Book]


I always enjoy reflecting on past writing and ideas to see how things have evolved. In May 2022, I wrote a post about the importance of our Business Development and Client Services teams operating in harmony. While we aren't quite there yet, so much has changed.

At the start of this year, we decided to consolidate our Business Development team and focus on getting more of the team involved in new business. Much of my time this year has been spent on calls with prospective clients and leading this effort among the team.

Over the past year, we’ve made great strides in leading prospective client conversations, creating proposals, and scoping out projects. Simultaneously, our Client Services team has continually created new opportunities to bring added value to our clients, working closely with their respective project teams. Despite this progress, the synergy between "business development" and Client Services is still a work-in-progress.

Heading into 2024, I'm excited to roll out some structural shifts that we believe will positively impact our approach to new business, viewing it as one agency initiative and process across prospective and existing clients.

Here are the major changes we're rolling out in January:

  • Business Development will no longer exist as a team. Our Business Development Coordinator, Riley, will join Client Services as Account Coordinator.
  • Riley's role will largely stay the same, but her involvement will span into existing client opportunities, as well.
  • Our Senior Account Managers will begin joining initial prospective client calls in January alongside me.
  • Following client calls, our Senior Account Managers will play a critical role in developing a project approach and then working with the client and team, as needed, to create a proposal.

By having Senior Account Managers actively involved in the early stages of client discussions, we aim to create a more cohesive experience for everyone from the business development phase to winning and doing the work to growing our client relationships for the long term.

Outside of these changes, we are also revisiting the process of scoping projects and writing SOWs (scopes of work) to create more ownership and efficiency among the team.

Last week, it was great to loop in our Senior Account Managers on a few prospective client calls. Hearing them speak to our process firsthand to clients and having the chance to debrief about the opportunity together afterward are already big wins.

I'm pumped to continue down this path in January and look forward to seeing where we're at this time next year.


Are there any structural changes worth exploring in Q1 to help drive progress on a gap in my company?

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