The Biz Dev 100: Robert Yardy, head of business development, MMT Digital

Robert Yardy: MMT Digital

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 Robert Yardy, one of those at the top of their field who work in the UK biz dev sector.

Name: Robert Yardy

Job Title: head of business development

Agency: MMT Digital

What were your highlights of last year?

If we are talking about the last 12 months, and not just 2017, I would have to say winning 7 x awards at The Drum Recommended Agency Digital Awards 2018 including The Grand Prix for agencies of 100+ members of staff was the highlight. This came off the back of winning 5 x awards in 2017!

Part of my job is to establish whether we are a good fit for a potential new client i.e. can we deliver their requirements in a manner that suits both parties. As the winners of The Drum Recommended Agency Digital Awards are decided solely on client feedback, I am always extremely pleased when we win as it shows we must be producing commercially successful work for our clients who I helped onboard.

Winning the bid for Translink (run the transport network in Northern Island) was also a huge highlight. This was a highly competitive tender process for a very large and technical project. We are currently running a very detailed Discovery Phase.

What has been your most memorable win - and why?

Sovereign Housing. From the initial brief and 1st round meeting, through to our proposal submission and the pitch, we had such a good feeling about the project and the team we would be working with. They were fully behind an Agile way of working and really understood the importance of user research prior to creative and build work.

How would you describe your approach to business development?

I always ensure that I listen to the client and try to really understand what the client is wanting to achieve. Don't just "hear" what someone is saying and wait for your moment to talk again. Actually "listen". And I believe that you cannot ask too many questions!

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

Listen to the client.

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

Be clear in your mind what the agency you work for are great at! You have to truly believe you work for a brilliant agency otherwise you will not have the passion and belief needed to win new accounts.

And of course, make sure you have a thick skin! The ups and downs in business development are dramatic. The blow you receive when you do not win an account that you have dedicated months to, and you strongly believe your agency are a perfect for, is something that really hurts. You need to be prepared for that.

The role is all encompassing and if you do not love it, you should look to do something else.

What is your new business soundtrack?

I’m not entirely sure what you are looking for in this question? I’m picturing some kind of pitch prep training montage with “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background!

But in reality, I like to listen to music when I’m reading through huge RFPs and the genre can vary greatly. For example, just today I have been listening to Daedelus, Little Brother, The Smiths, MF Doom, Toro y Moi, Etienne De Crecy, Fleetwood Mac and Tame Impala. So I do not have one soundtrack as such, I just listen to anything I’m in the mood for!

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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