New business is one of those subjects guaranteed to get a reaction from agency owners everywhere. Many will have a nagging feeling they should be doing a bit more, wonder how other agencies manage to land the accounts they covet, have moments of wild inspiration and energy then falter because the day job just, well gets in the way.
Gunpowder’s Lucy Mann has worked in agency new business for 30 years and has witnessed these scenarios, and many more like them, as an outsourced new business telemarketer, a new business recruitment consultant, in house new business developer, in house head of marketing, and new business mentor across multiple disciplines and agency shapes and sizes.
Regardless of size and discipline, many agencies encounter the same new business challenges, and more and more, the solution is not necessarily an ambitious marketing plan, or expensive sales resource, but instead a forensic application of process and a marginal gains approach to performance improvement.
Gunpowder’s podcast, Small Spark Theory® explores the small changes we can make to our sales and marketing process to achieve better new business results. With contributions from a range of experts, each episode will examine a single element of the process in detail, providing manageable tips for improvement.
For more about Gunpowder Consulting, please visit www.gunpowderconsulting.com or for details of our online, mentored, new business courses, please visit www.smallsparktheory.com
Follow us on Twitter @gunpowdertweets and join the conversation #smallsparktheory
With thanks to Matthew Syed for audio extract permission.
Host - Lucy Mann
Producer - Isabelle Jarvis
EP58: How to be a new business catalyst | Louisa Clarke & David Kean
In my work with agencies I witness a great deal of discomfort about the new business process. Of course there are brilliant, natural new business professionals out there who thrive on networking and relationship building, but for many, the possibility of rejection looms large and the process of prospecting or, shudder, ‘selling’, feels wholly unnatural.
This realisation was the basis for starting Gunpowder as a consulting business almost a decade ago and latterly, the understanding that taking a marginal gains approach could ease the some of that discomfort, the premise for launching this podcast.
Hot off the press, Catalyst: Using Personal Chemistry to Convert Contacts into Contracts is a wonderful new book by Louisa Clarke and David Kean which gets to the very heart of new business. Exploring how our human interactions determine how we succeed and jam packed with actionable tips, this must read manual confirms that being a catalyst isn’t just the preserve of the new business professional, but a set of skills can (and should) be learned by anyone, one marginal gain at a time.
Louisa and David join me in this episode to share their own ‘catalytic’ experiences and pass on their advice. This is an energising listen for anyone who has lost their new biz mojo or simply wants to feel more confident starting, maintaining and growing a professional network.
As always we’ll be giving away of copy of Catalyst, listen in to find out how to win.
Also mentioned in this episode:
How to Win Friends and Influence Profits
Pitching to Win
The Caffeine Partnership
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris
EP57: How to lead an agency | Steve Parks | Convivio
We’ve talked a lot about leadership on this podcast, and rightly so. Sustainable new business performance starts with a growth mindset and that has to come from the very top of an agency.
No matter how many people I speak with on the topic of agency leadership, every conversation brings a fresh perspective. And none more so than this conversation with Steve Parks of Convivio.
Earlier this year Steve and I were both named as “Inspiring People” in the BenchPress report from The Wow Company, something we were both so chuffed about that we reached out across the internet for a for a virtual high five. Our resulting conversation was so interesting that I knew I wanted to get Steve to chat on here.
In this episode we explore the wider role of agencies, high altitude leadership, the many hats of an agency leader and a window into the world of a private investigator!
Of course, we are giving away a copy of Steve’s recommended read: Organize for Complexity: How to Get Life Back Into Work to Build the High-Performance Organization by Niels Pflaeging, simply join in the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram using #smallsparktheory and we’ll pick a winner.
Further reading and listening:
What are agencies for? https://www.convivio.com/blog/what-are-agencies-for/
Too many hats: https://www.convivio.com/blog/too-many-hats/
Your day at the top: https://www.convivio.com/blog/your-day-at-the-top/
The Agency Radar Report: https://www.agencyradar.io/radar/
The Convivio Agency Leaders podcast: https://www.convivio.com/podcast/
Bench Press Agency Inspiration Report
EP56: New business leadership | Claire Humphris | Iris
Earlier this year, Claire Humphris was named CEO at Iris, the agency she co-founded with five other colleagues in 1999.
Iris now numbers over 1000 people across 17 offices worldwide. As agency breakaways go, it is a perfect case study. But of course, what interests me is the new business story. Claire has spent the past 7 years leading the agency’s global new business operations, driving growth across the network and winning some of the agency’s biggest integrated pitches.
In this episode we get together to discuss new business leadership and culture, the importance of the marketing calendar, marginal gains and making your own luck.
As we shape up for the final marketing and new business push of the year and begin planning for 2022, this is just the inspiration you need.
As always we’ll be giving away a copy of Claire’s recommended read, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight listen in to find out how to win.
EP55: How to scale at speed | Felix Velarde | 2Y3X
In 2017 I interviewed Felix Velarde for this podcast to discuss agency growth planning. It was our 4th episode.
Lots of people got in touch to talk about that episode and the way Felix delivered such a calm, pragmatic approach to a subject that frustrates so many agency owners. How do you grow, and just as importantly, how do you sustain that growth?
Later that year, Felix mentioned over lunch that he’d been approached by an agent who had heard the podcast, and suggested he write a book about the process. Fast forward to 2021 and I’m delighted that Felix is back to discuss that very book: Scale at Speed: How to Triple the Size of Your Business and Build a Superstar Team.
This book is such an invigorating read, whether or not you are in a position to take on the full 2Y3X programme that Felix and his team deliver, it is full to the brim of practical tools and advice to motivate anyone to switch up their growth plans.
We always do a book giveaway with each episode but Felix has kindly agreed to donate 10 signed copies to listeners. Simply listen in to find out how to win.
EP54: Overcoming adversity | Sarah Yeats | Sledge
I’ve said many times that the people in business I admire the most are independent agency leaders. And over the past 18 months, as our industry, largely populated by small businesses has rallied against such unforeseen challenges, my admiration and respect has deepened.
Through all of the conversations I had with agencies during this time I was aware that it was surely those in the events sector who had been dealt the most difficult hand.
In this episode, I speak to Sarah Yeats, Managing Director of events agency Sledge, to understand what happens when your projects are cancelled and your pipeline disappears.
I’ve called this episode ‘overcoming adversity’ but it’s so much more than that. It’s about leadership, resilience, communication, but most importantly, the power of relationships.
Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Sarah’s recommended read: Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff Allende.
EP53: Understanding client context | Jennifer Crowley | Kin + Carta
In the discussions we’ve had on this podcast, and in the work I do with agencies, the theme of walking in a clients’ shoes has been a recurring one. From rethinking our messaging to talk to client needs rather than services, to our approach to prospecting and the way we build advocacy with our clients.
But aside from simply understanding the client / prospect business attributes – structure, revenue model, audience, product and service lines, what we really need to get a handle on is change. What’s shifting for them? Buyer behaviour? The competition? Regulation? Supply chains? What does the change mean for them? I’d argue that a key differentiator in the best performing agencies is having a process for staying ahead of these issues and having more informed conversations with clients, a commitment of time that our traditionally lean servicing models often overlook.
However, as we stand here in 2021 blinking into the sunshine after the dull shock of the past year, there is change that we cannot ignore. Every client business will have been affected on some level from the pandemic, meanwhile the issues of sustainability, climate, diversity and inclusion are rightfully gaining traction. To ignore these challenges as we work together with our clients is missing a vital opportunity.
Someone who has been leading the charge for such conversations is Jennifer Crowley, Client Partner and Digital Sustainability Lead at Kin+ Carta and BIMA 100 Class of 2021.
In this episode we explore the benefits on engaging on broader businesses challenges and understanding shared values, and how, with such wide reaching topics, we can find marginal gains to build better client relationships.
As always we’ll be giving away a copy of Jennifer’s recommended read – Greener Marketing by John Grant.
Also mentioned in this episode:
Grow your agency with this podcast!
A fantastic podcast to help small business owners grow their client base. A brilliant range of business topics and issues are discussed in a friendly and informative manner.
The willingness of the guests to pass on and share their knowledge and expertise is heartwarming. I want to keep Small Spark Theory as my little secret. It is one of the best business development tools out there.
Fantastic advice and brilliant insights.
A must listen for anyone working in agency New Business and Marketing!
The best agency growth podcast
Small Sparks Theory is essential listening for any agency looking to build consitent growth, win the right new business and make the most of their client relationships. Lucy's depth of knowledge and warmth provides a great platform to introduce a fantastic range of guests, both from agency and client side. I find myself referencing it constantly, and regularly dip back in for a second listen to many of the episodes. I really can't recommend it highly enough.