Beware of The Ultimate Agency New Business Rolodex

Lee McKnight Jr.
Lee McKnight Jr.

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agency-rolodexAs an agency, you have several options for pursuing agency new business: an internal new business team typically comprised of principals, an outsourced group or an internal new business director.

An outstanding new business director is often compared to the elusive Bigfoot, Mothman or the Loveland Frogmen (Google that last one. It’s a real thing.).

Even individuals with good sales experience don’t automatically translate to someone who’s adept at selling agency services.

And then, there are those salespeople who claim to have the ultimate agency new business Rolodex.

I talked with an agency principal recently who went the internal new business person route, and it didn’t work.

There can be any number of reasons why this happens, but this one in particular was interesting.

When the agency initially made the hire, the big draw was the giant Rolodex of contacts she brought with her. (It wasn’t actually a Rolodex, because this story doesn’t take place in 1958 — the year the Rolodex was invented — but you know what I mean.)

There were assurances, all in good faith, that the Rolodex would be her key focus and underpinning of the effort.

Sounds great, right?

Not so much — at least in this case. A couple of things didn’t work out the way she had planned.

The Ultimate Agency New Business Rolodex: Hitting Up Your Friends

When it comes to business, it’s not the easiest thing to do.

So while there were a plethora of contacts at the right companies, this particular new business person found that she was fairly close to a lot of the contacts in the Rolodex, and it was much harder than she expected to approach and prospect them.

The next problem was an extension of the first: She still couldn’t sell very well to contacts who weren’t close associates.

She was a vivacious and charismatic networker, but in this specific case, it didn’t translate to being an effective new business person.

Basket, Meet All the Eggs

Finally, it became quickly evident that the Rolodex was the new business plan.

There was no comprehensive strategy, content marketing or awareness in the mix other than a list of contacts.

Of course, internal new business people can work, and for that matter, work very well.

Having a network can also be a benefit, but be aware of the grand promise of the Rolodex.

I often say to agencies considering our services: If you have found a great agency new business person, never let them go.

So if you take the internal route, make sure you’re not hiring a myth. They should have a plan to back up that killer set of contacts.

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