Running a Successful Creative Agency: New Business

At Function Point we’ve worked with creative firms, advertising agencies and digital agencies for the past 20 years. We help define internal processes and workflow, and in doing this we have come up with 6 personas that interact within the typical creative agency.

Helping people in the New Business role work more efficiently and effectively together will help the agency become much more profitable.

The 6 Personas: How to Run a Creative Agency

  1. New Business
  2. Creative
  3. Client Services
  4. Traffic Manager
  5. Accountant
  6. Owner

New Business (The Sales Team)

Job Description

To run a creative agency successfully, you need a strong sales team. This team is responsible for generating sales with existing customers as well as finding and developing opportunities with new customers, usually within assigned territory.

New business developers help agencies enhance your brand name and boost financial growth. They collaborate with multiple roles like project managers, account executives, and marketing professionals to create a sales strategy that adapts the market trends and proposes business ideas to increase revenue.

The salesman is usually the focal point of communication with new potential clients when they make the first interaction with your agency to check what you have to offer. They give consultation and convert leads to customers while maintaining strong relationships with existing clients and partners. Business developers are the ones who prepare and respond to RFPs and vendors and search for new sales channels or opportunities that may fit the agency’s services.

Driving the end-to-end sales process, here’re the common duties and responsibilities of a creative agency new business developer:

  • Marketing and finding leads:
    • Create a growth strategy with goals on financial gain and customer satisfaction
    • Conduct ongoing research to identify new markets, customer needs, and the competitiveness 
    • Use various online and offline channels to find qualified prospects and add them to the sales pipeline, such as Linkedin, emails, cold-calls, industry events, etc. When reaching out to potential leads through email outreach, employing an SPF record checker ensures that your messages have a higher chance of successful delivery, enhancing your overall prospecting efforts.
    • With the upcoming DMARC policies being enforced by Google, Yahoo and other large email players, ensuring that you have a proper DMARC report and monitoring system that helps you configure and install your DMARC, DKIM and SPF settings in your DNS – will ensure your email lands in the recipient’s inbox.
    • Develop and nurture strategic partnerships 
    • Introduce and promote the agency’s offerings to new contacts  
    • Arrange meetings with prospects to find new business for creative agencies
  • Making proposals:
    • Coordinate with project managers and pricing department to create estimates and develop high-quality proposals
    • Give pitches and presentations to prospective clients 
    • Follow the proposal status with client and answer clarifications if needed 
    • Meet with managers to discuss successful leads and get approval for new projects.
  • Preparing and executing contracts:
    • Prepare sales contracts, negotiate terms and conditions with clients to ensure a mutually beneficial contract 
    • Communicate with the internal team the contract terms and scope of work to make sure everyone is on the same page
    • Keep track of project execution to ensure contracts are executed correctly
    • Work with the finance department to issue invoices to clients
  • After-sales services:
    • Work with the project team to provide after-sales support for clients
    • Gather clients’ feedback and measure NPS (Net promoter score)
    • Build long-term relationships with customers to improve retention rate and referral opportunities
  • Internal tasks:
    • Monitor and continuously improve the sales process for the creative agency success 
    • Track and report sales, revenue, invoices, profit, etc.

A Typical Day

  • Scheduling appointments and visiting/calling customers and prospects to review needs and determine sales opportunities
  • Providing agency quotes as required, or providing pitch opportunities to the account executive team
  • Opening new accounts
  • Continuously updating customers and prospects on market changes and opportunities
  • Attending Trade Shows and Conferences (if applicable)
  • Liaising between customers and the company for up-to-date status of service, pricing and new product release launches
  • Preparing reports for marketing and sales and keeping expense accounts
  • Performing maintenance and updating customer accounts including contact names for future sales opportunities
  • Keeping up to date on new market trends.

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Typical Interactions with Function Point

  • FP is used as the customer relationship management (CRM) tool for keeping track of prospects and clients or information is synced from Salesforce
  • Notes are created to contacts, prospecting tasks are created for follow up and lead qualification levels are tracked within the system
  • Estimates and/or creative briefs are created (when appropriate) for new opportunities
  • Information entered into the system is used to report new business and projections to management.

A Perfect Day

  • The sales quota is hit for the quarter, new clients are happy and the new work is now being scheduled by the Traffic Manager and handled by the Account Executive.

Top of Mind Issues

  • Hitting the sales quota for the week/month/quarter
  • Win big projects and retainers to create a steady income flow for the agency
  • Keep clients happy and increase the chance of them coming back or referring new businesses

Challenges of New Business Agency Creative

Running an agency no easy task, especially when it comes to new business development. Here’re some challenges that the agency sales team often encounters:

  • Finding the right leads: It’s a struggle for business developers to detect relevant leads among hundreds of contacts. They need to evaluate the leads and filter out which ones are the most potential to win, as well as learn from past successes to spot and maximize opportunities.
  • Meeting targets: Meeting sales targets can be challenging due to unrealistic goals, insufficient effort, or lack of persistence. You should regularly review your objectives and strategies and adapt as needed. 
  • Facing rejection: It’s common to face rejection in business development, especially for newcomers, or when you’ve invested a lot of effort in a long process but the deals are turned down. Instead of being demotivated, salesperson should embrace rejection as a learning opportunity, focus on the big picture and understand that success takes time.
  • Lack of training and structure: Many agencies don’t have sufficient and adequate training for the sales team. This lack of a structured approach impacts the consistency and performance of the team.
  • Time management: Salesmen may find it difficult to effectively manage their time with a long to-do list. To tackle this, you must define priorities and allocate time smartly for each task.

Business Developer skills and qualifications

Running a creative business requires all departments to collaborate smoothly with each other. For business development team, you should look for these traits in each member: 

  • Demonstrated ability in business-to-business (B2B) sales with proven sales track record
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills to interact and convey messages effectively with clients and internal team.
  • Ability to build and foster client relationships to establish long-lasting rapport.
  • Knowledge of industry and passion for company’s products and services 
  • Impeccable negotiation skills to reach a mutual agreement
  • Problem-solving skills to handle crises and turn challenges into opportunities
  • Familiarity with project management methodologies
  • An innovative mindset to seek solutions that elevate company revenue 
  • Curiosity and continuous learning to stay updated with industry trends 
  • Adaptability to change and customize sales approaches to different clients and context 
  • Time management and planning skills
  • Superb customer service skills to maintain strong relationships with clients 
  • Ability to travel for meetings with clients if required
  • Proficiency in MS Office and CRM software (e.g. Salesforce, Hubspot)

Differences between New Business and Account Executive

New BusinessAccount Executive
Aim to make the first contact and acquire new clients

Conduct market research for new opportunities for growth

Network and connect with prospective clients

Playng the role of hunters
Aim to build a long-lasting relationship with both new and current clients

Understand the environment and client’s needs to provide tailored services 

Follow project status and upsell to clients

Playng the role of farmers

In Conclusion

An effective new business team is one of the cornerstones in running a creative agency.   They act on behalf of the agency to build long-standing relationships with clients, contributing to the revenue and profitability goals.

If you have any comments or think we’ve missed something from your job description, leave us a comment in the section below. We love working with our clients and prospects by helping with both the software requirements to make working together easier as well as developing efficient workflows – Function Point is here to help creatives run a profitable business!

This article was contributed by former Function Point employee, Tate Lillies. 

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