Leading figures from the world of New Business, interview each other on what it takes to be a successful New Business leader in today’s industry.
This week we hear from Nick Tate, Head of New Business & Marketing at Naked Communications and Hannah Matthews, Managing Partner at Karmarama.
How did you get into new business?
Nick: From growing accounts organically and working on pitches, to running the process for the agency. It was a natural progression for me as it’s the side of the business I’ve always found most fulfilling.
Hannah:I started out on the Ogilvy grad scheme following a career in account management. I then joined Karmarama, as an Account Director and got involved in few pitches, which I really enjoyed. At the time we didn’t have a new business function in the agency, so when I was asked if I’d like to set this up, I jumped at the chance to work closely with senior management and represent the agency externally.
What do you love most about it?
Nick: I love the variety. The fact that you have to learn quickly so it's never boring. That you're genuinely helping clients and have the free reign to deliver something new and exciting for them. And that’s just the hygiene factors. What you do after that bit is the fun stuff!
Hannah: The variety. No two days are ever the same. I love throwing myself into new sectors or client challenges. You get to know something about almost anything.
What’s the most challenging thing about it?
Nick: Making sure that whatever is your top priority is also the agency’s priority. That and keeping a team motivated over a sometimes extended period of time.
Hannah: The variety! The list of things you could be doing is endless. You have to prioritise.
What’s the most important skill a successful new business person needs?
Hannah: To be a good listener and ask good questions. Don’t be afraid to ask prospective clients challenging questions, you need to qualify opportunities that your agency is going to invest speculative time in. You need to figure out quickly if there would be a good fit with your agency and if/how you can help with the client's business challenges.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to enter our profession?
Nick: Get ready. This is hard. It’s relatively unforgiving. But… It’s incredibly rewarding. Get ready to learn a lot, to be a sponge, to pick up tips from the best and forget bad habits of the worst. The single biggest piece of advice would be to remember everyday why you wanted to get into it in the first place.
Hannah: Get stuck in. Offer to help. Enjoy keeping up to date with the industry and knowing what is happening in the world.
What qualities/experience do you look for when hiring new business people?
Nick: Someone that is a natural problem solver who can easily get to the heart of a client’s problem. You have to be thick skinned, up for anything and be the person who says “why not?” when everyone else around you says things can’t be done. In terms of experience, I always look for people with a point of view. It’s not about being a process monkey; it’s about trying to make our industry as progressive as possible with every single pitch opportunity.
Hannah: Someone who can represent our agency and its values. Someone with high EQ who can read between the lines and spot an opportunity. Also positivity and the ability to bring a team together around a brief, inspire and enthuse them to and bring an opportunity to life.
What are some of the new challenges you are facing?
Nick: Besides the usual (less money, more expectations, lack of resource, often confused briefs, no time for proper responses etc.) ... the landscape is changing. We’re constantly striving to update the pitch process. To make it more collaborative from day one and to build value back into the agency/client relationship. We’re pushing against 50 years of learned behaviour here (!) and New Business represents a magnificent opportunity to reframe how our relationships work; to ensure we’re getting off on the right foot and become trusted advisors to our clients.
Hannah: There is ever more complexity with the role. Agencies are offering broader skills, clients are looking for a far wider scope. In the old days of the 'advertising pitch’ there was a clear process, start and end point. Today we may be selling agency ‘products' one day, all the way through to offering consultancy type services on another. How we find this work is in a multitude of different ways. This requires a broad approach and you have to be open to new ways of working.
Last updated 12/05/2016