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How to grow your business: Six key learnings

How to grow your business: Six key learnings
"You don't always get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." The IPA's Finance Director Tom Lewis picks out the main takeaways from this year's Business Growth Conference to help you improve your commercial performance.

It’s all about attitude.

How we think about commercial challenges and how we perform in our roles define how well we rise to the challenge of being commercial.

Being good at being commercial means that we have the resources to invest in new technology and attract, retain and develop the best talent. Commercial success and doing great work that adds value to your clients are not mutually exclusive, they feed and support one another.

We must not confuse results with performance – performance is how we do things, the behaviours that lead to results. If we want improve our commercial results, we must start with improving our commercial performance.

Our clients are demanding everything faster, cheaper and quicker – this is simply the reality of the world we live in; we need to own the problem and take responsibility for making the solution happen. We cannot fix others, we can only fix ourselves.

In the same way that swimmers get wet, we need to start by acknowledging the commercial reality of our world and then get better at the behaviours that will help us to succeed. If we are serious about being commercial we have to own the commercial challenge and embrace it, or step aside and let other people own it. What we can’t do is have the issue not being owned at all and complaining about the problem.

In sport, when you win, you have a performance review; you want to know how and why you won so that you can replicate it. Most agencies only have performance reviews when they lose or when someone is not succeeding in their role.

What sets high performers apart is a high boredom threshold – if something works, we need to be capable of repeating it for greater success.

Our industry has armies of people tracking costs, but where are the people tracking value? We can create huge value for our clients – the idea of having a diamond in an engagement rings is an invention by De Beers’ agency in the 1930s; they linked durability of diamonds to the idea of and a tradition was born "forever".

My key learnings from the conference were:

  1. To get well paid for what we do, we need to move away from language of cost to that of value
  2. Having chutzpah - the confidence to ask, to think what's the worst that can happen.
  3. Confidence is not just a remedial problem; we need to work on it every day.
  4. New business is a polite battle for control. If you can't lead in the sales process you won't ever lead after you're hired.
  5. Negotiation is not the same thing as conceding slowly! When starting negotiations, begin with a “no” and see what happens. You can always reserve the right to say “yes” later. You don't always get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.
  6. Professional buyers are no less susceptible to price anchoring than ordinary folk; don’t accept our competitor set as fixed, in the same way that Nespresso anchored its pricing against Starbucks, not instant coffee.

Advanced Commercial Acumen course
Chaired by Dale Gall, CEO of Mullen Lowe and taking place at the IPA on the 5th October, the Advanced Commercial Acumen course teaches the importance of owning the commercial agenda. It provides the skills to understand a client’s business agenda and use those skills to increase revenues and/or spot opportunities for growth. An insight into the role of procurement and their motivations will also be provided helping you to navigate that relationship in a less passive manner. This course contributes to MIPA status if the (optional) course assignment is passed. Agencies’ that attend the Business Growth Conference qualify for 10% discount per attendee. Book now.

Members can catchup on all the content from this year’s Business Growth Conference here.

Join in the conversation on social media by using #IPACommercial.

Last updated 12/07/2017

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