Don’t rush to hire a Business Development Director

For many agency owners, “sales” is a word they try to steer clear of. It’s something you know you have to do, but you really wish you didn’t.

And so a lot of them end up racing to find a Business Development Director (BDD) who can take over sales and free them up to run the actual agency.

But finding the right person can be an uphill struggle. It’s stressful, takes a lot of time and effort, and doesn’t necessarily guarantee results.

As much as you might not like to hear it, small agency owners shouldn’t put down the sales books right away. Because actually, founders and owners are often the best salespeople for their agency.

Here’s why…

Why Agency Owners Make the Best Salespeople

Despite the fact that many of them feel very uncomfortable ‘selling’, it turns out that agency owners are pretty darn good at it. There are a few reasons for this.

The first reason is simple: They understand the agency inside-out. At least you’d hope so. They know exactly what their agency can offer, their historic case studies, their strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, they have a grasp of how their agency can solve their prospects’ problems. And that’s really just Sales 101.

Not only that, but they understand their potential clients’ business too. And that’s the second reason. This is even more prevalent when your agency is fairly specialist or works in a certain niche. It means you have a great depth of knowledge and expertise. It means you can speak your prospects’ language, and start unpicking their challenges right from the get go. You can add value from the first interactions.

And the final reason? They have to be good at sales or else they’ll have to shut up shop and find something else to do. Agency owners are intrinsically motivated to sell. They have their backs against the wall. Because failing to sell means letting staff go, moving to a smaller office, or no more Friday-afternoon drinks. Not only that but you’re (hopefully) really passionate about what you do. That’ll come across during all conversations and help convince prospects you’re the right choice for them.

So yeah, if you’re running a fairly small agency – less than 50 people, say – then it actually makes a lot of sense to have the owner heavily involved in sales. And don’t just take our word for it. From speaking with hundreds of agencies we found that only 4% of small agencies employ a BDD. In most cases, the agency owner or MD leads new business.

What if There’s No Time?

We get it. Small agency owners definitely don’t have enough hours in the day as it is. And now we’re suggesting that you handle all the new business stuff too.

But bear with us. There’s actually a big part of new business that you can outsource: Lead generation.

Opening up conversations with new prospects and raising awareness of your agency is something that doesn’t require the founder’s time. Sometimes it’s actually better that someone else handles it, because to have a somewhat predictable pipeline, you really need lead generation to be consistent month in month out.

By outsourcing your lead generation, you can free up the owner’s time and let them focus on the areas they’ll have the biggest impact. And that’s impressing prospects and converting them into paying clients.

Our own research has shown us that this is the most effective way for small agencies to handle sales. Outsource your lead generation to fill your pipeline, and then let the agency owner focus on converting those leads.

"Only 4% of small agencies employ a Business Development Director"

But What if We’re Ready to Hire a BDD?

Of course, what works for small agencies doesn’t always scale for larger ones. And eventually you’ll reach the point where you need to find a BDD. In fact, 75% of larger agencies have someone employed in this role.

When it comes to hiring for this position, agencies tend to look outwards. You may find, however, that hiring someone who’s already at your agency may be a better fit.

Coming from inside your agency means they already know exactly what your agency does. In fact, they’ll probably have been doing it themselves. They should also understand your niche or industry in great detail. Plus, their experience of speaking with current clients is bound to help them build those all-important relationships with prospects.

Ultimately, knowing what makes your agency unique comes best from experiencing it first-hand. The sales skills, however, can be learnt through training and coaching.

The Closer

If you’re an agency founder and you’re pulling your hair out trying to find someone to take over your sales, then you might want to slow down and reconsider.

A smart option for small agencies is to outsource lead generation and then have the agency owner deepening those relationships and sealing the deal.

If you’re starting to scale and have your heart set on hiring a BDD, then look within your agency first and see if you can promote internally.

Even though you might hate selling, it turns out that you’re probably the best person for the job. Embrace it!

Need to give your approach to new business a boost? Our new business training can give you all the skills and processes you need to turn into a selling superstar.

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