It’s no secret; the business development process is grueling. Even Digiday reported in an article earlier this year, “‘Never not on a pitch’: Staffers feel burnout amid agency pressure to pitch new business with fewer resources.” Staffers are, now more than ever, constantly pressured to pitch new business with fewer resources. All of this pitching is leading to one inevitable place… burnout. Agency new business has never been more competitive and things won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
How can agencies avoid this burnout and grow?
The answer in many cases is simple: be more selective. Easier said than done, right? To be more selective, you first need to clearly define who you want to work with. This means being very strict about who you absolutely do not want to work with.
Prioritize your pitchable brands by:
- Choosing those within your agency’s Right to Win.*
- Ensuring there is a passion for the brand (vertical, consumer type, etc).
- Knowing which services and scopes are actually profitable.
- Finding scopes that matches your expertise.
*What do I mean by Right to Win?
If you can say that there is a “right to win” then you can prove it through case studies and past work examples. When you show prospects this, they will want to work with you just as much as you want to work with them.
Stay Out of the Waiting-On-The-RFP Game
If an RFP comes across your desk that doesn’t fit within these parameters, leave it alone. I know it’s hard to turn away from a potential payday, especially when a feeling of uncertainty surrounds your new business pipeline, but you can be risking profitability or employee churn by putting your teams on projects they aren’t passionate about. Once you have set these parameters, do not stray! Agency new business is a lot like dating. If you know what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to find it, so stay out of the waiting-on-the-RFP game and get into the proactive biz dev game.
Just like in your personal life, being proactive vs. reactive will always lead to better results. Get out there and start hunting for new prospects that fit your agency’s Right to Win. Utilize email, social, and resurgence of in-person events to connect with those brands that you are most passionate about and focus on planting the right seeds of growth with them.
They may not be a quick fix for cash that some of these ill-fitting RFPs may inject, but what they will do is set your team up for long-term business development success. Happy employees lead to happy clients, and eventually more rewarding work for your agency.
So there you have it. A few tips to avoid pitch burnout and set your agency up for new business success. Agency new business is a process, but if you’re strategic about it, the right clients will partner with you when you need them most.