I recently explored why it’s so hard to hire the right new-business person. It seemed to hit a nerve – it’s clearly a tricky task, loaded with risk. So how can CEOs improve their chances?
It’s a high stakes game
Before we start, let’s all acknowledge that a newbiz hire is a big deal for any agency, large or small. Get it right and you can kick-on. Get it wrong and, well, just don’t.
So first-up, let’s talk cash. Even just looking at the process, money looms large – not least with time. The more senior the hire, the more interviews you and your team should invest in.
And given that a newbiz salary can be one of the highest in the company, if you’re using a headhunter, their commission will be pretty punchy – especially if it takes more than that all-important first year to be certain the fit’s not quite right. Ouch.
There’s a big credibility issue here too. Not just your external reputation to clients and new talent, but internally too… nothing says take-that-recruiter’s-call like serial new-business failure.
The glorious upside of getting it right
So far, so bad. Let’s turn to what you might gain from a successful newbiz hire. Unsurprisingly, I could bang on for ages here, but just for starters, aside the obvious winning more stuff, how about:
- New clients call you
- Binning ops you’d previously have gambled on
- Having more control over your future
- Knowing pitches are yours to lose from day one
- …or winning without a pitch
- Momentum throughout the agency
- Fame, fortune…
You get the idea. It’s all good.
Do more to define a genuine fit
So what’s the answer? Firstly, remember that new-business people vary massively. So do agencies. But newbiz job secs rarely do. Weird. So the next step is… stop.
Re-read the previous post about fit. Think hard about what those variables mean for you and how they’d make your job spec honest, unique and compelling.
Discuss your spec with someone who genuinely understands new-business – oh, I don’t know, me perhaps? – but almost certainly not just your headhunter.
I’ll ask some very searching questions about your agency’s – and your own – limitations, expectations and aspirations. We then co-create a completely bespoke job spec built around some very tailored observations, all informed by a career’s worth of often great but sometimes crap experience.
With clear requirements – based on clear intentions – you’ll have the right KPIs to manage everyone’s expectations. Your spec will excite a few genuine possibles and turn-off loads of no-hopers and blaggers. That’s a big win before you’ve even met anyone.
Then, it’s over to you and the very bespoke interview questions we’ll have designed together.
Of course, none of this guarantees success. But in return for a day or two of perspective, you dramatically improve your odds. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s a very smart bet.