Ever since Archimedes ran naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting “Eureka!” after an invigorating hot bath, people have pondered what causes creative thinkers to have their epiphanies.

In a departure from the normal sales and marketing articles, MD of The Advertist and host of The Fuel Podcast, Keith Smith teams up with RockstarCMO editor Ian Truscott to ask three terribly creative blokes where it all comes from.

The interview, turned into a podcast that will turn into a series and finally turn into a wider program about creativity.

Stuck for a name for the show, they decided to call it, Never Mind the Bullshit. Highly creative, right?

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

Managing Director Keith Smith’s latest column for RockstarCMO is all about leaning in to the change we’ve been craving, that’s been given to us and we’re highly likely to walk away from.

…Fraidy cats…s’just a virus..

Read the full story here

Episode 8: Dan Sudron of The Future Factory

How’s your sales pipeline looking these days?

Is it on your to-do list? Is it something that you’re definitely going to look at once you’ve got a clear day or two? Or is it something you nurture on a daily basis? Something that’s bulging with opportunities short and long term?

In this episode, we meet Dan Sudron whose new business agency The Future Factory is one of the best known in the industry.

The Future Factory are always in high demand and Dan is very much an unpaid cheerleader for the industry and he’s a chap who rolls up his sleeves and gets stuck in on behalf of his clients.

In this wide-ranging interview, we cover how many of the UK’s marketing, digital and PR agencies are coping in this remote working environment. Dan shares his wisdom on how to get noticed by prospects, how to win their confidence, retain the business and help them meet their marketing objectives.

Catch the show and other episodes here:

What a swell party we had last week – the perfect show for the perfect storm!

The Advertist – the UK’s only decent source of new business development intel, data and insights has decided to launch a new product.

And frankly, the timing couldn’t be better!

While business executives are in isolation, seeking new and innovative ways of pushing forwards and keeping the wheels of commerce turning, what better thing to do than join our gang?

That gang is The Fuel Podcast.

Produced by the founders of The Advertist, The Fuel Podcast is our brand new show, designed to help all those working in business, with an interest in finding new clients available now on Spotify and iTunes.

No flim-flam – just honest-to-goodness, inclusive, insightful, funny and lively interviews and think pieces, designed to help you on your new business journey.

We’ve just dropped five episodes and we’ll be publishing every week with fun, informative and engaging interviews with some of the UK’s most knowledgeable winners of new clients.

And you could do us no greater favour than subscribe to the show, so that we can continue to sprinkle a little jet fuel on the fire of new business.

In no particular order, I’d like to thank the following guests:

  • Phil Lewis – whose “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” approach is a much needed breath of fresh filtered air.
  • Ben Potter – new business matchmaker, a fount of biz dev knowledge and a wise head on young-ish shoulders.
  • Tom Cheesewright – applied futurist, business seer and raconteur who delivers the future in a stripped-down, no-nonsense easy-to-digest format.
  • Alex Kirkpatrick – man about town (on a bike) business development agency co-founder, new business planning maestro and always one of the first to know when it rains (both physically and metaphorically).
  • Greg, Tim and Martin at Beehive for their branding advice and general barracking from the sidelines.
  • And I chip in with a short monologue to help raise the spirits of those working from home.

Additional thanks to Donna Smith, Editor of The Advertist for her co-production advice and to Matt Smith at Quijibo Design and Photospherix for his technical skills and input. In fact, anyone with the name Smith.

And don’t forget – the same team behind The Advertist is the team behind The Fuel podcast and we have only one thing in mind: to make your job of new business prospecting a whole hell of a lot easier.

So wash your hands, pull up a chair and tune in to The Fuel Podcast and we’ll keep coming back with more help, advice, great guests and general new business-themed entertainment for you.

————————————————- |<O>| ————————————————-

Keith Smith is the co-founder of The Advertist, the UK’s only independent new biz dev platform. Copywriter, blogger, podcaster and published author. You can email him at keith@theadvertist.com if you are interested in finding out more about how to grow your new business pipeline, or how to be involved with The Fuel Podcast.

The publication RockstarCMO asked our Managing Director Keith Smith for his predictions for the year ahead. In typically disobedient style, he offered a vision of 40 years ahead, inspired by The Doors’ retrospective – The Future Starts Here.

January 01 2060:

” ‘The Future Starts Here’ – an advertising line for a gig worker sponsor, lifted from a music album from the turn of the century.

It just popped up in my visual feed and it got me reminiscing.

My father had the record – a 40th anniversary celebration of music by a band called The Doors and I used to sneak into his study and listen to it when I was a kid. The Doors was one of his favorite bands even though they were a bit before his time.

“Music was music back then,” he’d tell me. “Not like this electronic, mind numbing robot-manufactured crap you all have today. Music had a personality.” I miss his rants against my generation. I think it was trying to deal with the stress of his work that finally blew up his heart. I only got to know him for 13 years of my life and he hadn’t retired. He was still on the wheel, trying to make sure he had enough cash to live on when he finally got off – which he didn’t.

I often wonder what he’d make of life now. “How can you live with all the uncertainty?” he’d say. “How can you do all this ‘work a bit here, work a bit there’ way of life? It’s so…Romany.”

I consider myself to be one of the fortunate ones. I found my gig worker sponsor early in life. Gig worker sponsors pay for your lifestyle, like a retainer. They gamble on your future and in return, you provide them with a drip, drip, drip of regular income, like a tithe from the old days. Many tithes make a fortune and that’s what my sponsor is banking on. It’s all he can bank on really. The old days of buying and trading company shares is a lock out. It’s the privilege of the institutional investor now because they got sick of all the get rich quick strategies that sent the markets soaring and then plummeting. So Phil, my sponsor keeps me in the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed and, in return, I generate money for him to fund his lifestyle.

I’m one of his gigs.

I’m lucky really that I’m always so busy. I have gigs in three countries now, three in Britain, one in The Netherlands and I just picked up a new one in Australia. I make lots of different products for the gaming and entertainment industry, which is cool because I’m always doing something different – it keeps my mind active and I find that work I do, say for the Australian outfit, crosses over into other jobs I do. But the main thing is, I do them on my time. I can control the deadlines and I’m known for always delivering as promised, which makes me a more successful gig worker. The better your brand, the higher the fee you can command.

Phil funds all my healthcare needs and in return, I make sure I stay in peak condition. I eat well, using products grown in the community garden in my block. I can’t remember the last time I had a burger – probably when I was a kid, but if too much bad cholesterol shows up on my monthly health scan, Phil hears about it and then he’ll be all over my ass about keeping myself healthy so I don’t affect his revenue stream.

The block, where I live and work is one of the better ones in the area. It’s got massive storage for all the elements I need for printing out the prototypes I use for work, as well as for all the practical things I require for life. I just printed out a new bike, which I need, but it’s just so handy to have all the raw materials piped into the building. I can’t go out that much because of the state of the air but my block has its own velodrome and me, and a bunch of other gig workers run a competitive league, so I built the highest spec I could afford.

Jenni, my partner and I live apart, but in the same lifestyle block. We met after we both made ourselves available on the in-house dating network. She’s pretty cool. Her family are mostly gig worker sponsors and she’s trying to recruit me into their network but three things bother me about it. Number one, we’re not a permanent item and if that all goes south – awkward. Number two, they don’t have any entertainment experience in their portfolio – mostly sales and marketing operators, so I would have to deal with trying to justify my every move to them. Lastly, I like Phil. He took a big gamble with me, given my father’s untimely demise but he’s done a lot to connect me with new opportunities and I feel I owe him a lot more than just a slice of my income.

Besides, the sales, advertising and marketing sectors are so unpredictable. The new economy drove a flying bus through their revenue models. I choose what advertisements I see, and when. My block is signed up to an agency that covers a lot of buildings in the area. We’re all what they used to call upper middle class. We’re all professionals in a high-earning gig-working neighborhood so the agency that broadcasts all the in-vision ads we see is very particular about the brands and products vying for our attention. It works like this: We sign up to an ad-view list, specifying what things interest us, what we’re looking for, and the agency tenders for bids from suppliers. The ads are then broadcast to the system in my lifestyle block and I get them on my entertainment screen, my Hololens and all my comms. I can also earn credits for recommending products to my contacts, based on my own credibility and influence factors. All in all, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

I’m not much into politics. Because I work around the world, which is such a vital part of the global economy, the global political system dominates the local, country-specific one. All I’m concerned with is that I don’t get blocked or banned from any of the international gig working network directories, so as long as the powers don’t screw with that, I’m happy.

Politics became such a street-fighting process, people got fed up with it because it was taking up all the precious oxygen which, ironically, they continued to ignore concerns about. The air became so toxic because governments repeatedly refused to deal with the problem and eventually, they were all in danger of losing their jobs, so the balance of power transferred back to the people. It was too late to stop global warming but we slowed it down considerably and within the next few decades we’ll be looking to new, other worldly solutions.

New planets offer new opportunities and wherever these pioneers fly, they’ll need to be entertained, which is great for people like me. There’s always hope, right? You just need to know where to find it. “

The original article can be found here:

Is your sales process more Frankenstein than frankly strategic? Inspired by Johnny Cash’s song about a man who builds a Cadillac from parts stolen one piece at a time, Keith Smith chats with CEO of new business agency Incite – Alex Kirkpatrick – to find out how to streamline your sales process and have it runnin’ just like a song.

“Now the headlight was another sight

We had two on the left and one on the right

But when we pulled out the switch all three of ’em come on.”

Are you working with a Psycho-Billy Cadillac sales department? If so, you’re not alone.

It’s only natural that after a few years, a company’s sales effort might require an a-dapter kit, just like the song “One Piece at a Time” – a humorous tale about a man trying to build his own Cadillac by stealing occasional parts from the assembly factory where he worked.

In the rush to fill order books, a company might be willing to take on new business that meets a financial deadline but at the same time, places the resources of the business under unnecessary strain. So much strain that when the right piece of business does come along, the company’s departments are so stretched that they can’t do the job that they really want to do.

It’s a direct result of an uncoordinated sales strategy, or perhaps no sales strategy at all. Without a firm hand on the sales tiller, any ship can go adrift and before you know it the course correction required is drastic.

Sitting down with new business expert Alex Kirkpatrick, who runs one of the UK’s most successful new business generation agencies, Incite, it becomes clear that a company needs to focus on sales from the get-go. Working with a well-planned marketing drive, sales can literally make themselves, but working in an uncoordinated fashion, they might end up costing more than money.

Alex’s consultancy works with the most demanding of client types – marketing and advertising agencies, but his principles have been learned over the course of more than two decades and can easily be parlayed into any b2b or b2c environment.

Firstly, any new business isn’t necessarily good new business. As Alex says, there are many forms of bad new business but this number is far outweighed by the number of potentially bad clients: “Looking at long lists of data, making notes such as:  ‘likely no money’, ‘would never work with us’, is a surefire way to curtail your market and destroy any chance of winning great clients from outside of your usual target suspect list.”

Alex recommends creating a client profile – an imaginary client that has all the features your company would find attractive: “from the type of person and internal culture you like working with, all the way through to the kind of product they sell and buyers they target.”

“The back end looked kinda funny too
But we put it together and when we got through
Well, that’s when we noticed that we only had one tail-fin”

Obviously, not all prospective clients have the same degree of appeal, so Alex always advises his clients to divide them up into three categories: ‘Must work with’, ‘Should work with’ and ‘Could work with,’ and typically, this list would be like a Chevvy tail fin: sharp at the top and thicker at the bottom.

When you don’t have a coordinated strategy, you can end up with ‘Frankenstein’ sales. These are sales without a framework or, as Alex sometimes finds, they are over-complicated by converging activities on social media and in different channels at different times: “If you think about the Must, Should, Could structure, then there are three established approaches to effectively target these markets: Account Based Marketing (ABM), InBound Marketing and Outbound Marketing.”

The ‘Must’ category (the thinnest) tends to be more one-to-one marketing-based. Creative and personal. However these take time and patience and could potentially take up to three years to come to fruition, depending on review anniversaries.

The ‘Should’ category can be broken down into common sectors and given the outbound marketing treatment, so sales calls and/or direct marketing using case studies of similar work or in similar sectors.

The ‘Could’ category is your widest possible audience and the right marketing treatment for this is usually inbound. However, as Alex advises, this is where the science part comes in because you know less about these prospects than you do the other ones, so you’ll need to create content tailored to very specific personas and you don’t know these people.

And while this may seem like a lot of work, don’t worry, help is at hand. In fact help might actually be in the same building as you, so it’s always worth introducing internal sales incentive programs to draw out any prospective closers working in the same company as you.

“Now gettin’ caught meant gettin’ fired
But I figured I’d have it all by the time I retired
I’d have me a car worth at least a hundred grand.”

If your plan is to use just word-of-mouth to sustain your business, think again there Red Ryder. As Alex says: “90% of agencies rely on referral new business for at least some part of their journey.  Sadly for too many it is often how they start and grow and why they decline and ultimately fail.”

You will always need an ongoing new business or sales program because if you don’t, when you need it, it’s not there. If you rely on referrals all the time, you are not in control of your destiny and companies that do this “..are whatever they are referred to be,” according to Alex.

Alex suggests taking charge of your own sales destiny and to add proactive marketing campaigns that best enhance your company’s brand values: “Marketing your own brand effectively allows you to test technologies and tactics, creating cases and expertise that can be proved and sold to clients.”

“So we drove up town just to get the tags

And I headed her right on down main drag

I could hear everybody laughin’ for blocks around

But up there at the court house they didn’t laugh

‘Cause to type it up it took the whole staff

And when they got through, the title weighed sixty pounds.”

So the moral to the story is to be prepared for all new business eventualities. A company needs to be agile enough to be able to effectively react to all potential new business events – be it a cold request, a meeting follow-up, a call, an email, whatever the circumstance; your business needs a response that flatters the new business prospect.

“Make it look amazing,” said Alex. “Graphic design is so important, irrespective of whether your output is an aesthetic one, client buyers still care about design.”

You can adjust the response according to the type of lead, but don’t over-egg the omelet: “Better to get something good faster, than something amazing late,” says Alex. “Ultimately, look at your deck as a person.” Don’t drone on about your own accomplishments. Keep it tight. Keep it focused and keep it short because the prospect can always ask for more if they’re interested.

And as a CMO, it is absolutely part of your role to be contributing to the direction of your company’s new business strategy, working hand in hand with the business development or sales team: “CMOs should have a responsibility to sit at the heart of a company’s growth plan, to help develop a position, a proposition, build awareness, create cut though and increase conversation,” said Alex.

To help your company maximize its sales effectiveness, the following areas can be included as part of your bailiwick:

  • Top (blogs and content), mid (case studies) and bottom funnel (products, process, proposals) content creation and promotion
  • Search engine marketing
  • Social outreach and management
  • Events and Webinars
  • Re-targeting through biddable media
  • Lists and directories
  • Intermediaries
  • PR and speaker opps.
  • Shows and expos
  • CRM
  • InBound platforms
  • Product development
  • Trends and innovations
  • Compliance

When all is said and done, marketing and sales need to be as harmonious as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. One works so much better with the other when they both have the same intent.

Piecing sales campaigns together and being reactive, not proactive can wrong foot any company.

But when sales and marketing work hand-in-hand the effect can be stunning – as stunning as a jet black, fin-tailed 1960 Cadillac.

This time around, Q10 attempts to get inside the agile mind of Patrick Nandu – the owner of specialist new business development consultancy Booster. Patrick has successfully navigated the slings and throws of the new business economy by applying a detail-driven attention-to-detail approach to his clients’ new business pipeline development. In this interview, Patrick shares his thoughts on high altitude strategies.

What inspires you to go to work every day?

When you have your own business I believe that this should be enough inspiration – but you’ve got to enjoy it. Everything is down to you and determines whether you succeed or fail. I would never have set up BOOSTER if I didn’t feel inspired by what I do.

What has been the most pleasant surprise you found once you started Booster?

The main thing I noticed is being less stressed as I only take on the amount of clients I can handle compared to before when I had no say in that matter and just had to get on with it.

How does your ideal day at work go?

I get up early every morning, first thing is a coffee and quick look through emails, news and insights. I scan for anything pertinent that could help with the business development process. If all is okay, I’ll jump into the shower to be ready for 8.45am. Ideally I like to be finished by 6pm but sometimes I have to go on for much longer depending on what needs to be done.

What channels do you really love working in and why?

I enjoy working in a variety of channels, I couldn’t give you a specific one, as I believe you’ve got to be versatile and agile in all.

If you had one piece of advice to give someone thinking of getting into the world of new business, what would it be?

Be prepared to go that bit further than your competitors and most importantly, don’t do it if you’re not passionate about it.

What do you to do switch off from work?

I have a Private Pilots licence, so to completely switch off I try to go up at least twice a month. There’s so much to see and visit, Northern France is only a 40 minute flight away – very enjoyable particularly in the summer.

Who inspires you?

Nelson Mandela would certainly be an inspiration of mine, the sacrifices, hardship and sheer determination to achieve his goals could be applied to anything in life.

You’ve got to take a brand new prospect to lunch anywhere in the UK. Where would you go and why?

I would probably say The River Cafe in Hammersmith, serves great regional Italian food and fantastic terrace. I believe an environment can affect a situation, so somewhere relaxed, bright and of course good food helps.

What has been your proudest moment so far working at Booster?

I think the proudest moment for me was realising that I could set up my own business and acquire my own clients. It’s a tough and competitive sector to be in and I’ve managed to keep it going several years now.

Where do you want to be in ten years time?

Hopefully relocated somewhere in Italy, I love the food, fashion, culture and my partner is Italian, so a move there would be great whilst still managing a business.

If you would like to be the subject of an intense grilling of these proportions and you think you can stand up to the scrutiny, then please let us know by emailing us and submitting your details. We’ll be in touch soon.

If you have every wondered what it’s like at the sharp end of new business development for a successful agency, then look no further than The Advertist’s Q10 series. This time, grab a coffee or hot beverage of your choosing and sit back while Mr Mike Friend of Honchō takes his turn in the spotlight to give us an alternative take on how to keep the new business wheels turning, while possessing one of the cheeriest and most positive dispositions in the industry.

Take it away Mike..

What inspires you to go to work every day?

Discovery. You never know what you are going to find out there. I love walking into a business for the first time and exploring their world. I love finding out the little pieces of the puzzle, the depth of the problem and then sitting with my team looking at this maze to find the solution. It reminds me of The Wire! Ha. McNaulty and the team thinking, how are we going to crack this?

What has been the most pleasant surprise you found once you started working at Honchō?

Coming in from a large London agency, it’s been awesome to be part of a smaller team of 25 who are able to move and adapt with much more agility. Zero red-tape.

How does your ideal day at work go?

I’m not one of those “I’m up at 6am, gym, seize the day types I see on LinkedIn”. In fact I would say my routine was a lot more focused on knowing myself, knowing when I am on a hot streak and then trying to maximise it. I am lucky that my agency, Honchō, embraces flexible working to free me up to do this. For example, Monday morning before 10am I am complete rubbish, but Friday afternoon or Sunday night I often feel the most productive. I believe this has been the biggest change in the world’s working habits, and for those of us in Business development, we have to adapt to this. Customers want to look at your solutions in a time that suits them, rather than to ‘book a call at this time.’

What channels do you really love working in and why?

I am heading up our Automotive division for Honchō and I love it, the rate of change and the new technology for the future completely blows me away. The prospect of autonomous fleets and solar especially, future cities, the list goes on.

If you had one piece of advice to give someone thinking of getting into the world of new business, what would it be?

You have to actually like, or better love sales and want to be in it. A lot of people fall into it, hate it and don’t succeed and that’s because they never had the love for it. Don’t put up with a sales career, instead go do something you care about. As Jim Carey said, “it’s better to fail doing something you actually do love, rather than failing at something you never cared about.”

What do you do to switch off from work?

I play basketball twice a week in two different teams in the North west, and I adore the game. I completely switch off from anything: no thoughts, just movement. Its meditation for me.

Who inspires you?

Greta and all the young people protesting about Climate Breakdown; they are fighting for the future of our planet. When I was that young, we were fighting for someone with an ID to buy us some cider.

You’ve got to take a brand new prospect to lunch anywhere in the UK. Where would you go and why?

Love this question and a big part of me wants to say Nandos, ha. But, no maybe a tandem skydive, followed by a few beers. Forget the food. Let’s do something that makes us feel alive.

What has been your proudest moment so far working at Honchō?

Our rebrand to Honchō. It takes massive guts to rip up a very successful agency brand in iThinkMedia after 10 years of trading and start again. That’s what Chris Ailey, our owner did.

Where do you want to be in ten years time?

Retired, having built a legacy business division of Honchō Automotive.

If you would like to be the subject of an intense grilling of these proportions and you think you can stand up to the scrutiny, then please let us know by emailing us and submitting your details. We’ll be in touch soon.

In all of the confusion of what the role of the CMO is, we seem to have forgotten the one thing marketing is supposed to do; shift boxes.

There’s a lot of navel-gazing being done in the marketing industry about what exactly IS a CMO?

Just when we all thought we had a firm grasp of the new, digitally-enhanced, omnichannel lead marketing role, the powers that be decide to switch it all around again like some crazy 1970’s kids TV quiz show.

Now we hear that giant consumer brand owners like Coca-Cola, Unilever and Mars are redefining the role of a Chief Marketing Officer, to include oversight of content and messaging. And that’s just one example. Coca-Cola scrapped its global CMO role late last year and Johnson & Johnson’s first-ever global CMO Alison Lewis departed last month, as the company retired the position.

In a world dominated by TV, CMOs were necessary for fine-tuning a message through certain media channels, but the role has become less top-down, more flat, involving content distributions that touch upon a variety of different departments in any organization. The role today is more empowered for analytics and feedback.

So I’d like to propose another responsibility that seems to have been neglected in recent times; sales.

As a CMO, how often do you listen to the feedback from the sales channel and if you do, does it ever influence the campaigns?

The old role of Sales & Marketing Director was designed to have a balance of, well, sales and marketing. But can a sales & marketing director, sit with, under or alongside a CMO?  I doubt there are many companies that can afford that kind of bandwidth, so most will just settle for a CMO at the top because it sounds better.

Even Unilever admits that they are suffering from fatigue when it comes to the marketer’s description of ‘Brand Purpose’ and it all seems – to under-informed people like me – that marketing is talking itself into a tailspin – Green-washing, purpose-washing, cause-washing, woke-washing et al.

Marketing has gotten a bit too up itself and that’s where brand experts like Martin Galton, Greg Jordan and Tim Hollins come in. These three chaps form The Beehive, which they stress in not an advertising agency but more of a creative hive. They’ve just begun publishing a book called ‘How to avoid brand bullshit’, which gives lead marketers and CMOs nuggets of advice that they may have forgotten in all the rush to be liked or socially correct.

A couple of their mantras are particularly relevant here: “Dog food is for Dog Owners – make sure you really know who you want to talk to and why,” is one example and “If your category doesn’t make sense to ordinary folk, it’s crap; no matter how smart you are,” is another.

Sometimes with marketing the more you think about it, the harder it gets. So do the simple things first.

Most of the time, the simple things involve analysing the sales channel; looking at what makes the product sell and what will make it sell better.

Great marketing involves listening to the sales feedback and adjusting the pitch, tone or proposition accordingly.

Take a case in point from the masters of long distance selling – Canon. There sits a company with a highly extended sales channel, involving a myriad of different vendors and third parties. Among its most successful vendors is Creative Systems which provides best-of-breed imaging products and service solutions to businesses.

Matt Wingham, a director of the business also takes responsibility for heading up the sales. Has done for years and he’s well known in the industry for plain speaking, no-nonsense client communications; it’s what makes him special. He recalls Canon presenting him with a product called the Image Press – a fancy piece of kit, pitched at print shops and high volume users for books and brochures. “It was a great product but it was competing against a Xerox product that was less than half the price, consequently, sales were almost non-existent,” he said.

“We went back to Canon and told them that if they sold the system without all the ‘added-value’ accessories, cut the price and aimed it at advertising agencies and high quality studios instead, it will sell. So they did. And it did; it flew off the shelves.”

I’m not advocating for all CMOs to start interfering in the sales channel but it’s important to remember that the folks in the field are often the best form of a marketing antenna you can get.

Without that valuable, free feedback, most CMOs will be forced into making assumptions or to cherry-pick data to fit the narrative, but the best, most assured way of staying a CMO is by making sure that your product sells.

Keith can often be found making trouble on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ukkeithjsmith/ )

Business Development. It’s a job description that appears to have multiple definitions.

Back in the 70s and 80s even into the 90s, a sales job title conjured up images of smooth-talking jack-the-lads who could charm people into buying things they didn’t want; those who “had the gift of the gab”.

In the last decade, UK sales positions have been rebranded to make them more palatable to the more sensitive souls in the business world. A quick peruse of LinkedIn’s job board will reveal some interesting non-sales-sounding sales positions.

The Business Development job title is often used as a synonym for sales but the role of business development can sometimes have a perplexing number of applications.

Business development is a skill that blends creativity, new business sales, client development, brand marketing and account management. The weighting of each discipline can vary, depending on a number of factors, an obvious one being whether it is a board level or middle management-level responsibility (see diagram).

Graphic showing the flexible role of a business developer in a company
The role of a business developer in an organisation

The responsibilities of the role encompass new and existing business. In general, business development executives have the ability to create new outreach strategies and ideas, and execute on them. At the same time they can work with a company’s existing client base’s marketing team to recommend and implement successful new strategies and plans to help develop brands and increase the individual worth of each client to the agency.

A business development director will tend to have a lot more responsibility for the direction of a new business campaign and plans for client strategies, while business development managers tend to look after the implementation and execution of them. Referring to the diagram, the ‘Business Development’ circle can move vertically and horizontally within an organization, depending on the strategy.

This is why many companies prefer to outsource the role to business development agencies and consultants. Finding people with the right mix of talents can be time-consuming, costly and – let’s be honest here – there isn’t always a permanent need for it; like accountants or managing directors because it’s not always a fixed, definitive job description. So the role is often an interim or semi-permanent position. Business development agencies have the ability to work at the board strategic level or at the coal-face, implementing and executing strategies that have already been agreed upon.

Where many companies fall short in the outsourcing route is by not taking the counsel of these seasoned business developers. Bringing them in at the very start of the process allows them to guide the plan, make recommendations and suggest ideas that they believe are achievable.

A good business development agency or consultant will insist upon a consultation and ‘warming up’ process before the strategy launches. This time is best used laying out plans, agreeing milestones and making sure that all the required resources are ready. Therefore, the marketing and brand teams need sufficient heads up, as well as the sales and leadership teams. If client development is included in the brief, then introductions will need to be made, to avoid confusion.

Once the blueprint is agreed, it is simply a case of letting the business developer loose and carefully managing the roll-out of the plan.

From this, we can see that the role of business development can encompass many different skills and influence multiple departments of a company. It is a highly creative role (from a business knowledge perspective) and it can also require fundamental sales techniques. Above all, whether it is an in-house role or outsourced, a good business developer can become an integral synapse between important nerves of your organization, allowing insight and intelligence to feed and help grow your company.

Article co-authored by Keith Smith, MD of The Advertist and Jon Cunningham, CEO of Prospeus. Prospeus provides advice, consultancy, coaching and training to help agencies develop effective business development, lead generation + cold calling strategies.