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The Biz Dev 100: Dan May, new business manager, Oliver


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

Name: Dan May

Job Title: new business manager

Agency: Oliver

What were your highlights of last year?

Joining Oliver. I'd been working outside agency-land prior to my move but the opportunity to work at a big global agency that was going about things in a very different and successful manner was a really exciting moment and a great shift for my career.

The wins and the learnings have been great too. Just the amount of new information I've managed to stash away simply be being around intelligent and opinionated people has given me an excellent toolkit to work from.

What has been your most memorable win - and why?

What's the phrase, everyone remembers their first? Getting that first win at a new agency is a combination of satisfaction and relief, proving to new colleagues you can do your job! My first win with Oliver was made all the more sweeter by how quickly I was able to turn it around and the relative simplicity of how the opportunity was created and closed.

How would you describe your approach to business development?

I come from a media sales background so bring a fairly traditional approach to business development. I'd like to think my affable nature lends itself to relationship-building and generating good leads from events. A lot stems from my background as a journalist and a football referee; who knew being shouted at by over-zealous fans would provide the thick skin required to deal with the ups and downs of new business?

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

In my first role when learning how to deal with objections, I was told 'you never know what's happened to that person before they picked up the phone to speak to you.' It stopped me from taking things too personally when you caught a decision maker on a bad day, or at a bad time, which was really important for my confidence moving forward.

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

Speak to and learn from as many people as possible. You never know when you need an interesting anecdote or want to name drop a relevant individual into a conversation with a prospective client.

What is your new business soundtrack?

I have a motivation playlist on Spotify which has everything from Bill Withers to Whitesnake that does a good job in kickstarting an RFP response. Or when deadlines are tight, there’s nothing like putting on an action movie soundtrack to make things especially dramatic. Mad Max or Gravity normally do the trick.

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.