The BD100 Business Development Agencies

New business is tough, that’s why it’s important to celebrate the wins along the way

By Jody Osman, Group Director of Growth

Propeller Group


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September 14, 2023 | 7 min read

Jody Osman is director of growth at Propeller Group and co-founder of business development awards The BD100. Here, with the help of senior marketers, he digs into the morale and team dynamics of new business.

Some balloons, floating into the air

/ Sagar Patil via Unsplash

New business is all too often seen as a numbers game. Often, targets are thrown about with little consideration as to how these will be achieved. It’s then over to the new business team to deliver – which will often require a great deal of resourcefulness, tenacity and some good luck along the way.

Ultimately, there are only 3 ways to grow your agency: win new business, grow your existing clients, or acquire other businesses. It’s always important to ensure you’re delivering and retaining your existing clients to provide you with a firm foundation (which in turn may deliver new opportunities and referrals). But there will always be a few bumps in the road, from budget cuts to your champion moving on. That’s why a proactive approach to new business is critical to ensuring that your business is kept busy with regular work, and to open up new areas of growth.

The pace of new business

If you’re in the lucky position that your new business efforts are successful, it can be easy to take this for granted, with expectancies of success often growing the more accounts you win. But we can never lose sight of all the effort that will go into generating a regular flow of opportunities, finding the perfect chemistry, and delivering on every pitch.

New business is fast-paced; as one opportunity closes, thoughts will already be on to the next lead, or where this is going to come from. This brings a lot of pressure. Unlike many roles, it’s all or nothing. You can do everything right and still not get the right results. Unfortunately, a ‘close second place’ counts for nothing to anyone outside the process.

So every win matters and should be recognized by both the team involved and the wider agency.

‘Relentless winning’

Since launching the BD100 in 2017, we’ve seen business developers get better at celebrating the wins along the way and actively encouraging others to do the same. “It’s not bragging if it’s based on facts,” says Helen Lee, head of growth and marketing at Wunderman Thompson.

As more people are increasingly getting involved in new business, it’s important that they are supported, encouraged and given permission to celebrate their success.

Last year’s BD100 winner, Dean Rowland agrees: “Let’s be honest – winning a pitch is a great feeling. ‘Relentless winning’ isn’t just about being a hard-hitting boss that only cares about numbers; it’s about succeeding as a group. And that starts with taking our people on a journey. BD should revolve around making your team feel rewarded and recognized, ensuring they can shout out their own accomplishments.”

At Propeller, we actively encourage people across a range of roles and levels to get involved in new client pitches. It’s a great way to introduce future clients to the team that they’ll be working with and provides invaluable experience along the way. As a result, we’ve seen many of our team embrace and flourish in the process, which has provided lots of highlights, smiles and shout-outs at our company huddles. It has also provided a greater appreciation for the importance of new business and what’s involved in winning a new client.

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‘It’s everyone’s job’

Myreete Stanforth, senior manager of business development at Ketchum, believes that while business development isn’t a role for everyone, “new business and growth is everyone’s job. There are those behind the scenes, prepping teams and providing them with the intel needed to get into the room. Then there are people that are in the room making the pitch – and others that service the business after it’s been won.” The mantra for anyone that does get involved is simple: “be passionate, be prepared and be present. When someone asks how you can get involved, use these – regardless of the opportunity.”

With more and more people getting involved in new business, it’s increasingly important for agencies to focus on creating a winning culture. New business is tough, so it’s important to encourage and support your team – and make sure you all celebrate the wins along the way.

The BD100 recognizes the best in the business of business development and the brightest talent driving client-agency relationships in the UK. Nominations for this year’s BD100 open on 18th September. Winners will be announced at the ALF Awards in London next year.

The BD100 Business Development Agencies

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Propeller Group

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