4 Mistakes Ad Agencies Should Avoid When Hiring An Internal New Business Director

4 Mistakes Ad Agencies Should Avoid When Hiring An Internal New Business Director

In this post, we’re discussing 4 mistakes ad agencies should avoid when hiring for new business.

One of the keys to driving new business is of course the individual, or individuals, leading the charge.

Hiring an internal new business director is one way to go, and in our 2023 Agency New Business Survey, we asked agencies:

Have you hired a full-time new business hunter/ director/manager (as part of your staff) to prospect for leads for your agency in the past three years?

In the last two years of our survey (‘21 & ‘22), hiring for the new business director position at an agency fell to its lowest level since we started this survey in 2010, with just 32% of agencies hiring a new business director in the past 3 years.

We’re seeing that trend reverse in 2023, although not by much, with 36% of agencies hiring an internal new business director.

To add a further layer to the discussion we also asked agencies, “How difficult or easy has it been for you to hire quality employees for your agency/firm?”

51% of agencies said it was very to somewhat difficult and 39% said neither easy or difficult.

An interesting stat from a July, 2023 piece in eMarketer, Us Ad Agency Employment Marks An All-Time High:

June saw a significant boost in employment across advertising, public relations, and related services, rising by 2,200 jobs, per new Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited in Ad Age. With this uptick, employment in these sectors has reached its highest since 2001.

However, in regard to the business development position specifically, it’s an ongoing saga agency owners must contend with:

85% of Agency New Business Directors last less than 2 years.

Of course, the last three years have had their fair share of unique struggles coming out of the pandemic with an uncertain economy and hiring difficulties.

Beyond these struggles—and those struggles are certainly real—agencies often just don’t know what to look for when trying to hire for the development position.

The process is not easy, but we see some key mistakes up front in the hiring process.

4 Mistakes Ad Agencies Should Avoid When Hiring An Internal New Business Director

Here are 4 Mistakes Agencies Should Avoid When Hiring An Internal New Business Director

1 Hiring for that person’s network.

If this candidate’s main method of prospecting has been networking events, local happy hours, etc., you need to dig deeper and ask questions around their inside sales experience.

2 Hiring green.

At RSW, we hire new business directors that have 10-15 years of sales and marketing experience.

It makes the process longer and tougher, but it’s the expectation we set.

Agencies will hire green and then think they can train up.

3 Not digging deep enough on the individual’s planned new business process.

Always ask for a top-line version of the process and plan your new business director will carry out.

4 Failing to define the new business position clearly up front.

Is this person responsible for all facets of new business, from top of the funnel all the way through to pitching and RFP responses?

Is that person purchasing prospecting lists, or expected to build those out?

In Part 4 of our series we’ll talk the dollar volume of new opportunities so far in 2023.