Lucy Snell, Co-founder of Cherry Business Consulting takes us through the problems, advantages and pitfalls of outsourcing your most valuable job function – new business development:
You recognise that you need external support with your new business drive but how do you decide between appointing a freelance new business consultant to work on your business development or whether to hire a specialist new business agency. There are some advantages and disadvantages to both which I’ve listed below.
A new business freelancer will typically cost less than hiring a new business agency. Usually agencies have overheads such as offices and staff that they need to cover. Having said that agencies are able to charge more because of the breadth and depth of experience of their combined team which I’ll go through in the next point.
- Breadth of experience
With a freelancer you are accessing the experience of just one person whereas when you are working with a new business agency you have access to the wider team experience. Usually within the team they will have worked for similar agency to yours and will have targeted the sectors and markets you are looking to approach.
Often agencies are structured so that you have a more experienced person developing the new business strategy and then a junior person implementing the campaign. I believe though that the execution needs to be strategic too. You only get one chance to impress. Emails need to be tailored and personalised (more than just by changing the name) and when you are on the phone to a senior marketing officer, you need to be able to demonstrate knowledge of their business, their challenges and the market that they operate in. A more junior person may struggle with this.
- Holiday cover/maternity leave cover
Sometimes this needn’t be a massive issue as with adequate notice you can find someone to cover for holiday period or maternity leave however it’s worth bearing in mind that when you work with a freelancer, it’s up to you to work this out but when you are working with a new business agency they will provide seamless cover so you don’t have to worry about it.
- Person working on your business
People buy people, creative agencies often wheel in their most impressive people for pitches and then have other more junior people running the accounts. It can be the same for new business agencies. Just make sure when you are deciding who to work with that you ask to meet the person who will be doing the day-to-day implementation for you. Do you like them? Do you trust them to represent your business and brand in the way you want them to? Also find out about staff turnover rates. The most frustrating thing I hear from creative agencies owners is that they spend ages briefing someone and getting them up to speed for them to then leave 3 months down the line.
Some new business agencies, typical those with larger teams to manage, will have more rigid processes in place and will want to agree a fixed amount of time to work per month. This may be exactly what you need however some creative agencies need more flexible support, they may need help on different areas of new business, they may not know what they need and it might also be better to scale time up and down throughout the year according to key buying periods and holiday periods. Think about your agency and what you need.
- Time to manage them
Some freelancers may need more support from you and you might need to allocate more time each week to manage them. This will really depend on the seniority of the person you choose to work with. If you work with a new business agency, they will have someone managing the team, someone who knows how to motivate and incentivise sales people. Usually however a good, experienced freelancer will be able to manage themselves.
I hope these points help you decide what it best for your business. My advice would be to consider all options, meet with 3 or 4 different providers and then use your gut feeling to decide who to work with. Get that backed up by references and get them to meet your team and ask them what they think before you make your final decision.
Lucy Snell can be found at www.lucysnellonline.com