20 questions for agency biz dev

Client development is more important than ever in a business culture that has shifted markedly from hunting mode to farming mode (Seth Godin articulates this shift eloquently in his blog here).

I was recently asked to write a biz dev article and thought I’d post up an extract – my list of 20 questions agencies should ask themselves, given that they’re five times more likely to grow existing business than win new (and it’s the only real chance of short term revenue).

1. Do you celebrate those who grow existing clients as wildly as new new wins?

2. Is your approach to new business as formalised and structured as your approach to new new business?

3. Does your biz dev team share responsibility for account development with senior management?

4. Have you identified which clients will most enhance your reputation?

5. Do you avoid chasing clients who already have strong agency relationships?

6. Do you have a great rapport with all the clients on your top hitlist?

7. Do you know what you want? (e.g. to take clients form offline to online; or to work with sophisticated clients only)

8. Do you value winning extra assignments as much as winning new clients?

9. Do you ask your clients about their ambitions, life plans are and what keeps them awake at night?

10. Do your clients see you as a strategic partner and adviser rather than a project-by-project delivery partner?

11. Do you position your company in the wider context, through the lens of building brands as opposed to completing assignments?

12. Are you actively convincing your clients’ boards that they aren’t pursuing a digital fantasy?

13. Are you measuring the quality of your relationships?

14. Are you chasing more work in the honeymoon period rather than awaiting completion?

15. Do you and your clients really understand what one-another does and doesn’t do, beyond current/past projects alone?

16. Do you know exactly what your piece of success looks like?

17. Are you fully leveraging the ease of freelancing and outsourcing?

18. Have you invited procurement to your office to learn more about what you do?

19. Have you made your organisational objectives clear to your clients?

20. Are they helping you write your business plan?

1 Comment

  • Hi Jane,

    This a fantastic list for all companies not just agencies! I think more than anything is the perception that new business has more value over new work from existing clients. I think part of the problem has to do with a fear that we must always bring in new business in the event that our existing clients choose to leave.

    It seems like companies focus so much on the “insurance” aspect of new business that they don't do all they can to deliver and foster existing clients so those clients don't even THINK of leaving.

    Obviously, I'm not against new biz but the cost of acquisition is substantially higher than working your base.


    Travis Robertson

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