1:05PM January 30 2013

Death of a salesman?

Recently a merry bunch from Team Business Development headed to Brick Lane for the second ‘The Art Of New Business’ evening.

I look at these events as ‘New Business Berocca’. Anyone responsible for seeking out new business opportunities for their agency is invited, and a varied group of presenters provides us with a quick, painless shot in the arm about an enlightened approach to forging relationships with new clients.

Juliet Blackburn of Grupo Consultores (an intermediary) was up first with a scene-setting overview of the study they’ve recently conducted into client-agency relationships. Some cold-hard stats left us under no illusion as to what clients value in their agencies, why they might change agencies, and what they look for in new agencies. Some of the data comparing the UK with other countries confirmed we have a pretty sophisticated agency marketplace with very discerning clients, but some of the more emerging agency landscapes are making life easier for themselves and their clients – Argentina and India in particular.

Next up was David Tovey, author of the book Principled Selling. To start with he asked us all to close our eyes and imagine the archetypal ‘salesman’. All the negative stereotypes were shouted out – a room full of people who sell for a living desperately trying to disassociate themselves with the bad name sales-people have given themselves. When we opened our eyes again, on the screen was an image of that pushy, underhanded, slimy salesman we all apparently think of. This image, in fact. My heartfelt thanks (!) to all my colleagues and friends sitting nearby who kindly pointed and laughed, suggesting there was some aesthetic similarity between this guy and me. If there is a similarity, aesthetics is where it ends…

Though David didn’t have time to cover every aspect of his book, the one main point he did make really hit home. Our challenge is not to convince but to motivate.  To convince someone to do something focuses on our own energy, but to motivate someone to do something taps into their energy. A really simple mantra that applies not only to new business developers but to brands, their marketing teams, and their agencies I think. And who knows, might just help us shake that old salesman perception.

Next up was a series of Pecha Kucha presentations. Pecha Kucha – literal translation ‘chit chat’ – is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds.

Gareth Jones, Brand Engagement Director, LBi London, focused on beliefs that motivate actions, and referenced Simon Sinek’s take on getting to the ‘Why?’. His deck included images of a rave held at LBi, and a video of a Unicorn

Mark & Paddy, a creative team from Dublin told the story of Sharp Suits – how they brought Ireland’s creative community together to indulge in some ‘creative catharsis’ and raise money for charity at the same time.

Richard Williams, MD of Williams Murray Hamm threw in a welcome dose of realism – new business is a tough job but someone’s got to do it (playing to the crowd?). He reminded us it’s really simple – be different, be the best, or be cheapest.

Neil Christie, MD of Wieden & Kennedy London focused on the importance of creativity and the freedom to be creative – quoting Dan Wieden’s mantra ‘Move me, dude’.

The Bank of Creativity got us to look at a whole new way of solving client challenges- believing all briefs can be cracked within a minute. They broadcast made up briefs via Twitter, giving their followers 60 seconds to submit a response. We were all asked to come up with a campaign for horsemeat burgers (topical!) in 60 seconds, with an iPad up for grabs for the winning entry. Personally I think I was robbed, as my line ‘Unbridled flavour’ somehow didn’t win.

The evening concluded with a Q&A session with a panel made up of clients, procurement experts and intermediaries, which made for some interesting – at times heated – debate. We’re a passionate, sensitive lot behind this hardened, thick-rimmed-specs-jacket-jeans-and-brogues exterior…

So. Time to put it all into practice. Does anyone know how to uninstall PowerPoint from my computer?

Posted by: at 1:05pm January 30 2013 | Permalink