Ad Agency New Business: Set Your Agency’s Business Development Director Up for Success


Finding one person who can generate leads, maintain regular outreach with a large number of prospects, develop marketing materials (including high quality content), nurture relationships and close business is not a realistic endeavor. And, if you try to find that one person, you will likely end up with someone who does some things well and the others, not so well. Sales and marketing, although entwined, require different skills sets, personal qualities and experience. So, why do many agencies continue to look for a Jack-of-All-Trades?

Likely, it is a blend of wishful thinking and nostalgia fueled by memories of the good old days when someone could do it all. A Roger Sterling type. Someone who could cold call, network and wine and dine like a pro.

Prospects today are smarter and their expectations higher. Sure, you still have to do the research and leg work to identify and maintain communication with the right people, but you also need to actively market yourself by creating valuable messaging and content across a variety of mediums and social channels.

So, whom do you hire? A sales or marketing pro? More than likely, they are not one in the same.

Reconsider your search parameters and assess your current situation. Is the marketing function at your agency steadily underway? Is there a supportive communications program in place? Are your social efforts gaining traction? Are you blogging effectively? If the answer is yes, then hire the sales pro to actively pursue and generate opportunities with qualified prospects.

If the answer is no, you might want to rethink your approach by committing to the following:

1. Assign an agency marketing manager to oversee the creation of a multi-pronged program designed to effectively position your firm with its key constituency. If it’s an internal candidate and not a full-time position, it’s close to one.

2. Hire a sales pro (full or part-time) to work that program to its maximum advantage. A good inbound program will produce opportunities but it often comes at its own pace.  If you want to truly control your own destiny, find a proven sales professional with the right skills and experience to harness inbound efforts and hasten the process.

The role of the Business Development Director has changed. It requires a more nuanced and multi-layered approach. And, while there is nothing like finding that special person who can pick up the phone and create an opportunity where there once was none, it’s becoming less and less realistic to hang your firm’s future on that scenario.

Treat your agency like one of your best clients. Marry sales and marketing efforts to best support your positioning and success.