Good news! You are ready to build your business development team to take you into this new phase of growth for your business. Now the slightly more complicated news. Hiring a skilled agency business development professional might be more difficult than expected. Since you've done the job yourself, you feel like you have a good handle on what is required. However, there are sneaky reasons why it may be hard to find the best business development expert. Not to worry, we've outlined these reasons in this blog so that you can avoid the headaches and get back to business.
Your agency relies on new business. It is critical that new leads are regularly entering your pipeline and nurtured until closed. A bad fit in this function can result in wasting your agency's (or more specifically, your) time, resources, and money. If your prospect pipeline dries up, business may become stagnant. That kind of stress on you and your whole team can be very hard to overcome. The best way to avoid that is by investing in a dedicated business development resource.
The first sneaky reason your hires never work out is that both you and they may have unrealistic or competing expectations. Business development is a long term process. It is unrealistic to expect a new business development hire to jump right in and deliver hot leads or a shiny new project in the first few weeks. Even the most experienced hire will need time to learn your brand, services, and industry, as well as get to know your agency’s team. It's difficult to prospect for your agency before becoming immersed in the agency itself. Be prepared to give your new business development hire 6-12 months to prove their worth.
Hiring a person with the wrong experience for the job is another sneaky reason it doesn't work out. Don't hire someone with solely sales experience, even if they are familiar with your industry. Business development is not transactional sales. An expert business development professional is proficient in finding and bringing qualified prospects to your business. They make connections and build relationships that engage potential customers in your agency. When the prospect is ready, there should then be a warm handoff to your sales team to close the deal. Business development is focused on building your agency's portfolio of customers for the long term. Sales keep your business running in the short term. It's an important distinction and critical to the success of your business development.
An unclear job description could be the result of reason number one: unrealistic expectations. It also could be the result of a lack of awareness of your business development needs. If you've covered this role before, you probably followed your instincts and passion for your work. You may not have ever documented the actual job description. Spend time thinking about who you want to take over this job and how you'd like them to do it. Ask yourself, what does success (realistically) look like for this new hire? This step is crucial to finding the right hire. An incomplete or confusing job description will not attract the best talent.
It's possible your entire sales funnel has never been outlined. As a one-person team, it was never needed. You relied on your instincts and just did the work. Establishing a clear sales funnel process will help you be successful in hiring the right people. If you are unclear on who does what, where the handoff should be, and who closes the deal, how can anyone feel comfortable hitting the new business goals you set? It's important to establish not only job roles, but also the resources and materials each role needs to get the job done. This could include your pitch deck, sell sheets, or case studies. With a clear path forward and the right tools, your new agency business development hire will shine.
This sneaky reason is a little harder to spot in the hiring process. Each agency has its own culture. You want to find someone who embodies your mission and gets along with colleagues. While some business development leaders can be lone wolves, you'll have better results if they embrace and participate in your agency's brand and culture. Develop a few interview questions asking how your potential employee feels about your agency values, how they see themselves fitting into the team, and how they work with others. Maybe even invite some of your client-facing team members into the interview process to get their thoughts before making the hire. While this advice should apply to any new role, it’s important to remember that a business development hire is no exception.
Business development is a critical part of your business growth. Be persistent and thorough in your search for the best person for the job but also recognize that hiring a business development person is not always the best option. Many agencies, instead, choose to outsource their business development function to a reputable company, like BIGWAVE. Outsourced sales teams work with numerous agencies so they understand the ins and outs of your business and already have a list of target prospects ready to go. In fact, 95% of our clients see a qualified meeting with a prospective client within the first month of our program.