The Biz Dev 100: Gareth Evans, head of growth, Cogent

Gareth Evans: Cogent

Welcome to The Biz Dev 100, powered by The BD 100, which aims to recognize and celebrate important role played in the media and marketing industry by those who source and bring in new customers and keep the fortunes of businesses on track.

Below is Gareth Evans, one of those at the top of their field who work in the UK biz dev sector.

Name: Gareth Evans

Job Title: head of growth

Agency: Cogent

What were your highlights of last year?

It has to be our 82% pitch win rate - a combination of client growth and new business. It’s a significant improvement in our historical win rate and is born out of some big shifts in how we approach growth. Better targeting, stricter qualification, a refined pitch process, a growing strategy & insight team (that we call the Propagation Hub!) and a new operating structure that’s been formed with the better cross-pollination of ideas and expertise in mind. It’s paying off – 82% is pretty good in anyone’s book!

What has been your most memorable win - and why?

About 10 years ago, I worked at Weapon7. At the time it was an agency of about 10 people - we were an ambitious, close-knit team tackling the challenge of re-positioning the agency from Interactive TV specialists to a digital and direct agency, and setting the course for growth. We won the pitch for the digital and direct work for Cadbury’s The Natural Confectionery Company – our first significant retained account outside of Interactive TV. As well as having all the usual late nights, pizza & beers, Dunkirk spirit, ideas-from-anywhere collaboration and ‘what if?’ excitement, the win proved to be the springboard for becoming a 50-strong agency doing award-winning digital and direct work for a to-die-for client list within 18 months.

How would you describe your approach to business development?

Consultative. First, it’s crucial to clearly set out the agency’s strategy for growth, and for the business development team to rally the whole agency behind it. If you get the marketing bit right, the agency brand should be set up to attract the right kind of clients facing the kind of challenges your agency is ideally positioned to solve. The relationship-building bit should be about asking the right questions, understanding the client’s business and drawing on insight, expertise, and instinct to give them the confidence you can help them affect the change they seek to meet their commercial ambition. Much better than cheesy chat up lines and a one-size-fits-all approach.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

It doesn’t matter what you say – it’s what the other person hears that counts.

What would be your number one tip to anyone starting in business development?

Forge good relationships with people in every area of the agency – you need to believe in and articulate why and how it delivers for your clients, not just what it does.

What is your new business soundtrack?

Tough question! This week: Rebel by Louis Berry.

Brands looking to appoint a new agency should look to The Drum Recommends for help. The Drum Recommends offers reviews of agency partners by their own clients to offer insights to the rest of the industry when hiring.

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