Have you ever found yourself doing something you felt you weren’t suited to do?
My life partner has a small 4-seater airplane, a Piper Cherokee, in which we make occasional trips to Newport or Boston or even an impromptu flight to Block Island for dinner on a summer evening.
He thought it would be a great idea for me to be a pilot too, and I didn’t disagree. How cool would that be to have two pilots in the family?
After my first flying lesson, the answer to that question was, “not cool at all.”
I’m not afraid of flying—in fact I love being a passenger—but I was surprisingly petrified sitting in the pilot’s chair. I was overwhelmed by all the information a pilot is required to juggle and, what’s worse, I found it all pretty uninteresting.
Fear and boredom – not a good combination.
Some people feel the same when confronted with business development responsibilities at their agencies.
After years of extolling the virtues of a well-rounded business development program, I finally realized that I was never going to get different agency leaders to do things they didn’t like to do.
Instead, the shortest, most efficient way to fill their pipelines was to build a program of tactics that aligned well with their talents and internal resources.
I started to figure that out by looking at the new business personalities and proclivities of each agency I worked with. Four types emerged: Hunters, Promoters, Communicators, and Thinkers
Each one has its strengths if you know how to harness them.
Hunters have an instinct for selling. They’re energized by making connections with other people and feel at ease when interacting with strangers, whether on the phone or in person.
Most agencies are not filled with natural-born hunters, which is why they usually fail to sustain any sort of plan that entails outbound prospecting. Neither carrots nor sticks seem to make much of a difference with these teams. I’ve seen financial incentives and promises of career advancement fail in equal measure.
For the few of you whom this does describe, you’ll probably want to set up systems and a structure to support a prospecting plan. Don’t forget to establish the basics first. Do you know what you're selling and whom you're selling to?
And, if the answer is "yes" to both, do you have a well-maintained arsenal of tools (case studies, your website, testimonials, social media streams) to back that up?
These are leaders with big personalities (and often big egos too) who’ve got something to say and aren’t afraid to say it. Often their business life bleeds into their personal life, and vice versa.
A great example of a Promoter is Gary Vaynerchuk. Vaynerchuk is the ultimate ambassador for Vayner Media, the company that bears his name. He practices what his agency preaches, boasting more than a million followers on Twitter, not to mention hosting a vlog and a podcast. He’s even crossed over into mainstream media, having published five books and appeared on reality TV.
If your agency is run by an unstoppable Promoter, harness that big ego for good! Give them outlets through which to express themselves and be ready to field those inbound leads.
Communicators have two special geniuses. The first is their ability to take complex ideas and boil them down into concepts that everyone can understand. The other is their ability to captivate a crowd.
They’re your TED Talk-ers and keynote speakers. They’re the charismatic ones that are perennially on the pitch team.
However, they probably don’t have interest in one-on-one relationship-building or the patience for details, which is essential for sales. They’re big-picture people who love to share their ideas.
An agency led by a Communicator is best served by getting that Communicator out on the speaking circuit and backing her up with a strong PR strategy.
Thinkers are the introverts of the bunch. They often share their talent for explaining complex ideas in simple ways with Communicators, but they’re more interested in teasing out the details.
Where a Communicator is at ease speaking in front of a crowd, a Thinker is more comfortable writing a book or a white paper. Your new business strategy should support that. Give a Thinker the resources to write the book—and still back her up with a strong PR strategy.
By the way, this is not to say that a Thinker can't be great in a presentation room. Years ago, when I ran the US new business team for what's now Havas Media, I worked with a Thinker who was our head of research and analytics. He has a way of transforming dense sets of data into pitch-winning "ah ha!" moments. He was my secret weapon because the audience didn't necessarily expect him to steal the show, so they were all the more engaged when, in his own quiet but approachable way, he won them over.
Did you recognize yourself in one?
You may have recognized yourself or others on your leadership team in these personalities. More likely, you recognized most of the traits of one personality with a little of another mixed in (just because you’re a Thinker doesn’t mean you won’t do well in a one-on-one sales situation).
Explore your agency’s new business personality. You’ll find it a valuable filter later when you are determining which new business tactics are going to be the most successful and sustainable for your agency over time.