Read our new manifesto
Future 50 Banner

The Biz Dev 100: Kellie Sharp, business development director, Reckless

Kellie Sharp: AmazeRealise

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

Name: Kellie Sharp

Job Title: director, business development

Agency: Reckless

What were your highlights of last year?

On a personal level; I won one of my largest accounts (£2m) continuing to drive new business internationally; I developed a number of micro-packages helping to secure business in new areas; I was invited to one of our largest partner's ‘Inner Circle’; and I joined Northern Power Women to help support my fellow fierce female counterparts. From an agency perspective, getting into Design Week's Top 100 (finally) was also a great highlight.

What has been your most memorable win - and why?

Most definitely Walmart in the US... Why? When as a business you decide to enter a new market and then you go on and win your first client that happens to be one of the largest multinational retail corporations in the world - there is no better feeling. Not only was this a superb win for the agency but I secured the account in a record 9 weeks making it the largest account win, in the shortest turnaround time. In addition, this account has then gone on to position the agency with a solid foothold in the US and became a platform for future growth alongside other ventures in the US.

How would you describe your approach to business development?

A colleague once called me "the Lara Croft of the agency world" - I know wow what a compliment. I never asked why, but just assumed they meant, like Lara, I’m fiercely driven and never give up no matter how impossible a task seems at the time. And my secret weapons? a) Operate like a conductor. Tackle new briefs calmly, with precision, but with oodles of passion. Unify your performers (your team) so they can prepare, execute and deliver at their best. Enable each member to let their biggest strength shine to deliver collectively what the client needs. b) Approach new biz like dating From the initial introduction to meeting the client team and pitching to impress and show them why you’re the right partner; everything must be about hard work to build the relationship. Just like dating, you need to get to know the business, their needs, goals and ambitions; you need to care for their culture and beliefs and their well-being, and in the process build trust quickly through honesty and empathy. Also, do not forget the small personal touches (pet names, last holidays) take a genuine interest. c) Be fearless Biz dev’s need to "Own It, everyday”. Colleagues and partners must believe in the cause via you. The hunger should be boundless and show no limits demonstrating true passion. There are no ‘off days’ in new business. And don’t be afraid of new knowledge areas - just do your homework. 10 years ago I had rarely come across a CMS, DAM system or CRM tool and now I see myself as a leading sales person with strong technical knowledge learning along the way. Which in a male dominating area can come with its challenges but I’m not afraid of challenging (and winning against) my male counterparts.

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

Once the pitch is over, the hard work really begins. Never sit on your laurels. Back to the dating analogy – you have to keep working at it. New business is about building partnerships and they take collaboration, commitment and perseverance. The pitch is only the presentation of everything you want to say. You then need to really graft to get the deal.

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

Have empathy. The more you know and understand your subject matter / client needs, the better biz dev person you will be. Consult and guide, not sell services. And, people buy people, so the ability to make a strong connection has to be part of your personality. It is not something that can be learned from a book. Is that you?

What is your new business soundtrack?

Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen,

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.