The Biz Dev 100: Ben Potter, business development mentor consultant

Ben Potter

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

Name: Ben Potter

Job Title: Business development mentor to aspiring digital agencies

Agency: Freelance after 14 years agency-side, most of those for Leapfrogg, a well respected retail agency.

What were your highlights of last year?

Taking the plunge and setting up my own business development consultancy. It’s quite a change from agency life, bringing about new opportunities…and the odd challenge. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve worked with a dozen or so agencies in the last year, seeing them make great strides in how they approach business development and the rewards that come with it. Consistently good feedback from clients has definitely vindicated my decision. It has also been a pleasure to deliver the only non-SEO/PPC training course at BrightonSEO and continuing my writing for the likes of Econsultancy.

What has been your most memorable win - and why?

When I started out, I never expected my work to take me overseas but I was recently appointed by a Dubai based agency. It’s an exciting opportunity to experience how business development is approached in an entirely different culture.

How would you describe your approach to business development?

My approach to mentoring is based on three principles:

1) A belief that anyone can sell, if they put aside their (often misguided) perception of sales. Business development is less about ‘selling’ and more about advising, challenging and creating value. I firmly believe that if you get these things right, the actual ‘sale’ will take care of itself.

2) If treated as an experience (much like service delivery and account management), business development can be a source of advantage over the competition. From prospecting through to how a new client is on-boarded, there is no room for ‘off the shelf’ or ‘generic’. Clients expect and deserve more.

3) There are no short cuts, no hidden tricks, no rabbits out of hats. Success very rarely comes down to one thing, no matter how big the change or how large the investment. Instead, it’s the culmination of hundreds of small, continual improvements in positioning, people, processes and tools that give one agency the edge over another.

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

Qualifying is about lots of small ‘yeses’. Enough small ‘yeses’ means you stand a far greater chance of hearing the big ‘YES’ at the end. Leave nothing to chance.

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

Always put the needs and interest of the prospect first, even if this means walking away. Cutting corners might earn you a few quid at the end of the month but you’ll never build the skills, trust and reputation that come from honesty and integrity. Take the long view.

What is your new business soundtrack?

The ‘Boss’ – Bruce Springsteen. He has a song for every mood. If you don’t feel ready to take on the world after listening to ‘Born to Run’ (ideally, right before a pitch) there’s something wrong with you!

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