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Hank Blank - How Long Does It Take For Agencies To Land New Business?

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Published on Apr 13, 2015

How Long Does it Take for Agencies to get New Business? Longer than you want it to. Yes, New Business can take a very long time but most agencies don’t want to hear that.

The last thing that agencies have in New Business is patience. Patience is what they tell clients when they are disappointed with the results of a campaign. These things take time agencies counsel. Be patient they plead.

I got an e mail from an agency New Business leader the other day. He was trying to do a little research on the typical sales cycle for advertising agencies to close New Business. He was encountering some internal resistance to his belief that New Business isn’t transactional selling and takes time to develop.

He must have been up against the firing squad in his New Business meetings.

Yes some agency principals think that New Business is transactional selling. That is why they cold call. “Hey, I was wondering if your company is looking for some new advertising?” I don’t think so.

It reminds me when I worked at agencies and would answer the phone. Yes we used to have land lines at work and talk to people. A sales person would ask “Do you have any upcoming printing needs?”

Sounds pretty archaic but that still happens today. I stupidly answer an unknown number and somebody tries to sell me something I don’t need. I don’t get no satisfaction.

Transactional selling creates a vendor agency. A project here and there. Not much of a relationship.

I work with a Digital Development agency in Buenos Aires. How long did it take me to get that engagement? Six years. A pleasant surprise.

I wrote about that in a blog called How Long Does it Take for the Penny to Drop in the New Normal.

I spoke to the Cleveland Ad Club in 2008. About the same time that the world melted and the New Normal was created. Lehman Brothers crashed and so did the value of your home and maybe your job went away or your significant others’. Your kids found it hard to get a good job when they graduated. Maybe they didn’t move out.

When they retained me in 2014 I asked them how long does it take to get New Business? A year they said. And they were selling what most companies and agencies need. Digital development.

I was surprised at such patience.

A firm that recognized that there is no Magical Rolodex in the New Normal.

I shared some observations with the New Business person who had reached out to me. He agreed with my timeline. He also shared that his internal management looks at him like he had two heads when he tells them that one of their biggest clients, that they just landed, took him two and a half years of staying in front of them and reminding them of what his agency does and who they were.

I’ve seen New Business from the perspective of a successful New Business hunter and a search consultant. New Business is certainly not transactional in the New Normal. This is the age of being found not shouting and sending boxes and emails to strangers saying you would be perfect for them.

An effective New Business plan takes 12 months to get traction.

The only way to shorten the runway is for agencies to market themselves and invest out of pocket funds on agency marketing.

Most agencies won’t do that.

Lack of patience and lack of skin in the game is why they fail to grow.

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