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How Cyber-Duck's new business strategy paid the bills

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By The Drum | Editorial

December 7, 2023 | 5 min read

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Example of the award-winning work

New business development is the life blood of any agency business, but there is a real art to cultivating the relationships that convert to real business, real revenue and a really good looking bottom line. Cyber-Duck certain has its ducks in a row when its comes to driving new business and its approach impressed judges so much that they awarded it the New Business trophy at The Drum Awards for Agency Business. Here is the award-winning case study.

With an impressive list of accolades including the BD100 List, BIMA Hot 100, and the UK Agency Awards, Cyber-Duck’s small but mighty New Business team proves size doesn’t matter. With a strong focus on collaboration, preparation, a wealth of multi-disciplinary skills, and laser-focused use of resources through a bulletproof qualification process, the team regularly wins opportunities when going up against teams bigger than the whole of Cyber-Duck.

Cyber-Duck’s delivers complex, large-scale digital transformation projects, primarily public sector and B2B, across many sectors including healthcare, education, financial services, and manufacturing. The New Business team plays a vital role in our success achieving these objectives. The team consists of Tom Millson, New Business Director; Siji Onabanjo, Chief Growth Officer; Matt Gibson, Chief Commercial Officer; Sylvain Reiter, Chief Delivery Officer; Anvay Pandya, New Business Manager; Jason Greenspan, Business Development Manager; Kemi Solanke, Head of Bids; and Danny Bluestone, CEO.

Combined, the team has a very high average tenure at Cyber-Duck, including time as digital practitioners. They have consistently grown the business year-on-year to include global clients on the scale of Worcester Bosch, Handelsbanken, Sport England, Cadburys, Cancer Research, Compare the Market, and The Bank of England, to name just a few.

This team aren’t just salespeople: they redefine the value of a new business team. Each team member has a wealth of experience in different business areas and has the knowledge and background to go far beyond surface-level conversations. They communicate in-depth with every client, immersing into their world to understand their needs, challenges, and goals intimately, building strong bonds of trust. We don’t just go for short-term wins with our clients; instead, we build deep working relationships to achieve long-term success. The team regularly creates compelling new business proposals, bids, and pitches - sometimes disrupting the new business process entirely by winning the opportunity before shortlist or pitch stage.

The small team does more with less. They more than make up for having fewer resources by being highly efficient, nimble, and agile, with fast responsiveness to new business inquiries – something which is frequently noted by prospects. With their versatile skills, any of the team can step in where necessary to support their colleagues.

As in previous years, 2022 saw the team punch well above their weight in terms of wins and successes. In the highly competitive public sector tender space, with an average of 25 companies bidding for each opportunity, they’ve won against teams three or four times larger. By investing in continual improvements, including automation software, they vastly improved efficiency in 2022 and secured 5 wins from just 6 tenders in the last half of the year, exceeding our tenders target by 21%. 2023 so far shows no signs of slowing down, with a further 5 wins in the first half of the year.

The other critical factor in the team’s success is a systematic qualification process. This is followed from the time a lead comes in, through to onboarding them as a client. Each lead is qualified against criteria covering areas including success probability, cultural fit, mitigating factors, and risk profile. This process frees up the team to spend their time working on truly relevant opportunities and enables them to build relationships with potential clients even before the pitch stage. Subject matter experts are involved in the process early on, providing technical depth to the conversations and building rapport.

Their structured, multidisciplinary, collaborative approach makes this new business team the best in the industry. Their skills were critical in winning the international retail bank Handelsbanken, Cyber-Duck’s biggest win of 2022, and one of our biggest ever value projects, which will enable us to continue growing its service design offering in the future. The team’s work meant 2022 saw Cyber-Duck’s strongest sales performance in 17 years. We have continued building on last year’s success by winning a multi-year, multi-million digital transformation project in 2023. Other notable recent wins include Leeds City Council, Birmingham City Council, Imperial War Museums, and the NHS.

To fuel further growth in 2023, the team started proactive outreach to prospects in finance, healthcare, and education. Informed by agency contacts, an events and networking strategy, client/prospect winback, and a strong focus on partner relationships, Cyber-Duck has secured new clients it wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to.

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