Business Development

Dear Chuck, I made a terrible mistake and I need your advice…

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

I’d been working as a radio sales rep for the last 2 years. I wanted a change so I went looking for a business development (Biz Dev) job at an agency. I saw a post for one here in XXXX and made application. Good news – they responded and scheduled a ZOOM interview. I thought it went well; plenty of back and forth, some serious topics and some light-hearted. Turns out my job was to be client appointment setting for some agency seniors.  And I was to be paired with one of those “Seniors.” I asked if they had a process and was told Yes. Was I to get an updated computer with all the bits – Yes. I asked if they had associated marketing materials and was told – Yes. I asked for training, they said – Yes. Bottom line – all sounded good and – the pay was 50% more than at the station. There was even a commission or bonus when I exceeded “quota.” And so it began…

Day one – they gave me an inside office with no window. I did get all the trappings like computer, dual screens, phone w/headset with dual lines, printer/scanner, plenty of yellow writing pads. Training was to be by an outside firm and they almost immediately shipped me off to Chicago for a 3-day seminar. Lots of great excited, enthusiastic men and women. It was soon apparent that many had some as “teams” – the BizDev was accompanied by their “Seniors.” I was alone. So be it. It seemed they covered everything, so let me tic them off. 1. Chemistry, its importance and how to measure. 2. Material outreach, email, social,  DM, USPS, events  3. Phone outreach, intros, scripts, 4. First meetings – and that’s just the top line. Great stuff and I couldn’t wait to get back and get started. I did ask how I needed to adjust since I came alone. My boss was told my Senior was meant to come too. So they suggested I sit-down with my boss and explain what my Senior was meant to be doing. Made sense and sounded reasonable.

The Meeting: It didn’t happen! I was told to just get started on outreach. With virtually no exposure to the agency itself, their mission, their specialties, didn’t even get introduced around. Are you starting to get the picture? No CRM, no prospect lists, no particular “send-me-something” materials – email or printed. What did I get myself in to? Yours Painfully, New Orleans Sucker!

Dear NOS,

You stepped in it! You were spirited off to the seminar so quickly there was no opportunity for “detection.” But let’s see what we can do. Your options

  1. Quit and find another (with lesson learned)
  2. Try to make the best of it and do it their way
  3. Get approval to share your training with participating agency operatives

You decide but personally I wouldn’t bother with 1 or 2. For Number 3, reach back to the seminar people and ask them to schedule an “all parties” ZOOM meeting.  Have them prep your boss on the minimums you need to succeed. After all, that’s why you were hired! Best case, see if your agency will send your “Senior” to the same seminar ASAP. And Yes, I do agree – you just inherited another “sales job” that wasn’t identified at the onset. Call me after all this for an update and we’ll take it from there.

Best, Chuck (You’ve got my ear)

Advice for Advertisers & Agencies from a Walmart Employee

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

I went “black mulch” shopping Saturday at a local Walmart. In the Gardening Center the lone on duty employee was an exit guard. I asked where I could find mulch; he suggested I travel to the other end of the building to look in the outside lot. By the way, he remarked, best you drive your car. I did, parked the car and went in. Found the same gent guarding a second exit door. Again he directed me outside. Once I load the car, I asked, what do I do?  Come back in and check out with Dave. I drove to the unsupervised lot, loaded my car and drove back to the entrance. The guard and I had now become fast friends. He led the way to find Dave.

An Empty Check-out Those Gardening Center exit registers were absolutely unmanned. I could-of, maybe should-of just left but I didn’t. My guard friend paged Dave. Forever later Dave was seen strolling down an isle from the far front of the store. After much ado, Dave rang up my 5 bags @ $2.80; grand total $14.00. Now Dave and I too were building a friendship. I mentioned reading on-line that Walmart was cutting staff to adjust for decreased public spending. To Dave that made no sense. By example he said, COVID or not, that store was running about 500 shoppers per day. Dave’s point – COVID, recession, whatever, the volume of shoppers stays about the same. Shoppers it seems will always shop; just adjust their spending. But to give shoppers the service and inventory they expect, it will take the same, even more than the current staff to get it right. In our industry, Dave would be an advocate for “advertising in a down economy.”

If you’re interested in protecting your flanks, let us help. Advertisers here: https://www.agencyfinder.com/define-your-ideal-agency-for-us/  Agencies here: https://www.agencyfinder.com/agencies-lead-generator/agency-enrollment/

I’ve Got a Friend, Really I do!

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

I’ve got a friend who works for the publisher of a “small city” magazine group. There’s an interesting, learning situation in what she does along the lines of what most ad agencies (marketing firms) are also trying to do these days. As a sales rep selling space in these small “local” community magazines (containing local ads and local editorial) you’d think her job would be simple. Explain to prospects why local residents and business people would want to find and do business with local companies and local service providers. Particularly when so many economic factors encourage people to stay close to home. Hard to argue against that.

Saleas LadySo why isn’t she today’s Sales Hero? Because no one answers their phone. She tells me it isn’t unusual for a phone to ring ten-to-twelve times before, and if, an answering service or answering feature picks up. Try it yourself. Try to find a business phone that isn’t answered by a human, and see if you’re not getting antsy at 4-5 rings. For the sake of “business development people everywhere,” can we not issue a national edict or FCC ruling that all business phones must be answered in some way, shape or form by 5 rings or less? And do so for the sake of efficiency and commerce?

The bottom line (and a great opportunity for an entrepreneur) – can someone develop a method to place a relevant commercial message in front of a “perfect-match” prospect at the exact moment that prospect is aware of and needing that advertised product or service? (I’m happy to partner-up, reach me at https://www.agencyfinder.com/contact/) What’s your experience? What’s your solution?

Need to Hire? Here’s One Reason Why You’re Having Difficulty Getting Applicants

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Companies complain they can’t hire; no one wants to work. Might this be one reason? Here’s a real advertised job “opportunity” for Business Development Specialist; small virtual agency less than 10, start-up this year. When finished reading, share your thoughts.

Responsibilities

  • Pitch, define, negotiate and close deals on our services and platform.
  • Bring in new business through prospecting efforts. Ability to interact with a broad set of businesses and present over the phone, video, or in-person.
  • Creating demand by uncovering business initiatives and pain points and matching them to our solution and platform.
  • Create a strategy, including but not limited to cold outreach, events, referral, and content production (e.g., blog)
  • Experience being proactive, making constructive suggestions, and coming up with innovative ways to scale initiatives.
  • Develop process and system improvements to continually raise the bar of execution for managed accounts

Qualifications

  • A hunter to seek, develop and drive new business development for the business
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, strong attention to detail, and good follow-through
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to be creative and think outside of the box

Preferred Qualifications

  • Worked in a startup environment with an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Demonstrating strong research, investigative, and problem-solving skills with the ability to exercise judgment to resolve issues
  • Proven abilities to attract passive candidates and build a diverse pipeline

Pay? Listed as Unsalaried – meaning straight commission? Or piece of the action?  Or Partner?

Job experience – 1-5 years.

My Comments: Reminds me of one of our earlier blog posts – “The Powerless Rainmaker – Responsibility without Authority.” Unfortunately sounds like an under-capitalized start-up with people who have little understanding or appreciation for what it takes to be a Rainmaker. As it stands, I’d be surprised if they fill the position. What do you think?

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What if Your Agency Really Practiced Branding?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Real branding (let me repeat – Real Branding) may be a partial answer to what ails some agencies. Specifically, the downfall and demise of agencies like D’Arcy, Bates, Earle Palmer Brown, Hample/Stefanides, HDC, BaylessCronin and some other twenty-two more U.S. ad agencies begs the question – how can agencies with great client rosters simply slip away, or be disassembled and distributed as piece-parts? How can their peers or an admiring public let that happen?

But what even suggests that peers or the public have any idea who does what and when? If the public did know, might it be less likely that a great Brand (agency) could simply be put to rest without cries of complaint and alarm? We kicked this topic around before -based on feedback since, we’ve had conversations with agencies AND clients – to ask what might happen if agencies really did brand themselves.

Imagine if your agency were to “sign & brand” every ad you produced. Translated – a small but visible agency mark, logo and credit line (or voiceover), similar to a photographer’s or illustrator’s credit line that states “Proudly produced by X Agency, Chicago, IL”. As best we’ve come to know, it’s not being done by anyone.

Agencies generally remark – “clients wouldn’t allow it”, or “clients wouldn’t pick up the tab”. Yet photographers and illustrators have been doing it for years, and not because they work without payment. Publishers pay and allow it; why can’t clients? Is it just a question of asking permission? On the pay-for-it issue, if there’s value, an agency should be happy to pay for their pro-rata portion, or reduce production costs accordingly. After all, that’s positive exposure and an investment in new business development.

When we discussed this with clients, they weren’t put off as agencies thought they might be. Some were quick to see the merits. This could be a quid-pro-quo thing. Many consumers (and industry peers) are passionate about who does what work (for example, stay behind in the theatre to witness those who remain to study credits).

Consider an extreme analogy – imagine if an agency of some renown (a you-know-who) that wouldn’t normally, did work for a regional men’s fashion chain and marked or branded that work. What might “those in the know” think about the connection or the implied endorsement? If the consumer didn’t recognize the agency brand (regardless of size), a quick Internet search would be educational. And that grand agency brand might have complimented the client. Likewise, a great client brand could compliment an agency.

When chatting this around, the topic of copyright also comes up. But we’ve touched on enough for now – it’s time to move on. However, your thoughts are welcome, AND, if you already do this, are you willing to tell us (and others) about it?

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Are We Still Doing Hacks? Yes or No, Here’s Two for Telephone Outreach

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

New Business- if you expect to make any progress, you Must Connect!  In trying to reach a pivotal player such as the CMO, you sent an email to warm things up. But was it delivered? Was it read? Now you’re dialing the phone you found in the data file. Is that the direct land line, cell phone or company cover phone? Does it ring to voicemail? One trick there is to ask for “Agent.” That’s code for Operator. Your question now is – I’m trying to reach he/she. Do you know if he/she is in today? If you hear “out, vacation, ill, family emergency” lay off for a while.

However, after three or four futile attempts it’s time to sleuth! Make note of the extension dialing codes (i.e. 2, 3, 4-digits) and punch in random extensions. When someone finally answers, ask for that CMO by name, as if you were expecting them to be the answering party. The party should say ‘this isn’t so and so,’ then ask to be transferred. If the internal phone system uses Caller ID, that call will show as an inside or “allowed” call.  Bingo! CMO on the line.

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Workers are suing their bosses to get their work-from-home costs reimbursed

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

In the more than two years since the pandemic shut down many offices, white-collar employees across the country have been forced to set up desks in cluttered kitchens and cramped bedrooms, reinventing how to work, day in day out, on the fly.

New social codes developed between employees and employers, perhaps changing the nature of work irrevocably.

Another consequence of the mass relocation of office workers: A rise in employee lawsuits demanding reimbursement for expenses incurred while working from home during the pandemic.

“We have tons of these in the pipeline,” said Jacob Whitehead, an attorney who has filed about 20 class-action lawsuits over business expenses demanded by employees.

Home expenses such as telephone and internet fees, extra energy to heat or cool a house and office supplies can add up to $50 to $200 a month per employee, according to more than a dozen lawsuits examined by The Times.

If expenses were incurred during the entire duration of the pandemic, that could add up to as much as $5,000 for every worker. Some lawsuits are also demanding payment for the potential revenue employees could have collected had they rented out their home office instead of using it for work.

“This is one of those pandemic-related issues that rose very suddenly,” said Craig Ackermann, a Los Angeles attorney who has filed about 25 lawsuits to collect unreimbursed business expenses from employers. About half of those lawsuits have been settled, he said.

One of Whitehead’s clients, Troy Seppala, a former refinance sales trainer, was among several employees of Better Mortgage Corp. who filed a lawsuit in March 2022 against the mortgage company.

In the lawsuit, he claimed that after he was ordered to work from home, starting in March 2020, he had to foot the bill for work expenses, including his internet use, extra electricity and use of his personal laptop and cellphone, at a total cost of “several thousands of dollars.”

Seppala was laid off from Better Mortgage in December of 2021, part of a mass layoff that was executed during a Zoom meeting, and is still looking for work. Better Mortgage did not respond to emails seeking comment on the case.

The company had previously paid for snacks and lunch each day for employees who worked in the office — perks that were eliminated when Seppala and other staff members were ordered to work from home.

The tech industry, including companies large and small that offer free meals, dry cleaning and other services meant to improve employees’ lives, has faced strong criticism from workers after cutting such perks during the pandemic. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, got pushback from employees last month after the digital giant cut free services such as laundry and dry cleaning and made changes to the timing of its free dinner service.

 Seppala said it was already difficult to make ends meet in the high-priced Bay Area. Once he found he had to pay for his daily lunch plus the other office expenses, money began to get tight.

“As soon as we started working from home, I realized how much day-to-day money I really had because of how much went toward paying for that stuff,” he said.

Other lawsuits, many of which are still working their way through the court system, have targeted such business giants as Wells Fargo Bank, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Visa, Oracle and Bank of America.

Visa declined to comment on the lawsuit. Representatives for Bank of America, Liberty Mutual and Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The companies that are being sued for failing to reimburse their employees for business expenses have, according to Ackermann, argued in court that the pandemic caught them off guard and unprepared to respond.

“They say it is a one-in-a-hundred-year pandemic, what do you expect,” he said. “Still, the law is the law. Do you think the employee should eat the cost?” 

Tiffany Calderon, a treasury service associate at Wells Fargo Bank, filed a lawsuit in August, saying her bosses have failed to reimburse her and other employees for a variety of business expenses since sending them to work from home in March 2020. Those include “internet, phone, personal computer, office equipment (printers, scanners, etc.) office supplies, utility bills, and/or fair value for space used as home office,” according to the lawsuit.

Her attorney, Joshua Haffner, said the expenses have cost Calderon between $100 and $200 a month.

“The cost shouldn’t be shifted to the employees,” he said. “This benefits the business.”

In a statement, Wells Fargo said the bank has given its employees “guidance on how to seek reimbursement for reasonable and necessary expenses resulting from conducting Wells Fargo business at home, such as office supplies and cell phone and internet services, and our policy complies with California law.”

The lawsuits highlight one of the most dramatic changes the pandemic brought to the business world: the widespread transfer of employees from business offices to home offices to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

In a poll of nearly 6,000 workers by the Pew Research Center, 71% of those employees with jobs that could be done at home were working from home all or most of the time in the fall of 2020. In contrast, 23% of those workers said they teleworked frequently before the coronavirus outbreak.

Many employees may be conflicted about suing their employer over home business expenses because, despite the added cost, working from home offers many benefits, such as a more flexible schedule and relief from the daily commute.

The legal disputes have arisen because very few employers adopted clear policies about reimbursing workers for work-related expenses at home, according to academics and legal experts.

Federal law does not require that companies pay for expenses incurred by employees working from home, but many states, including California, adopted laws to address the subject long before the pandemic. The California labor commissioner’s office has yet to issue COVID-specific expense reimbursement guidelines.

The state’s labor code is tilted to favor workers. The law requires employers to pay workers for “all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties.” The law describes those expenses as “all reasonable costs, including, but not limited to, attorney’s fees incurred by the employee enforcing the rights granted by this section.”

Once workers were sent home en masse, employers were much more likely to pay for home office equipment, such as computers, according to a survey of 10,000 Americans directed by Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom. But less than 10% of employers reimbursed workers for costs such as new furniture or internet fees, he said.

“For equipment like laptops, webcams, microphones and a work desk, it is reasonable for an employer to pay for this,” Bloom said. “For more general costs like refurbishing a home office, improved broadband or lunch, that is less common and would depend on a case-by-case basis.”

Some companies have adopted policies to address the cost of the new work normal. Early in the pandemic, several tech companies, including Google and Shopify, announced plans to reimburse employees up to $1,000 for work-from-home equipment.

Google recently announced it was ending its voluntary work-from-home period in the Bay Area and several other locations. The company said it expects most employees to come into the office three days a week and have two days of remote work.

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When Hi-Tech is Too High

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

At some point in every on-line transaction, the buyer wants more information from the seller. In the consumer/retail world, large, robust and expensive websites offer a plethora of options to accomplish that and to fine-tune an order. In the B2B world with large suppliers, they too operate massive hi-tech sites. But in the B2B world of smaller providers, and particularly with marketing firms and their websites, they seldom offer many options to garner more info or to connect.

It falls back to the Contact Us page and information found there. The common fill-in-the-blanks form is offered along with contact options.  Typical unisex email address and telephone. Some offer a contact name. It often then boils down to a call. COVID drove most from office to remote/home locations. And almost without exception to a cellphone. A quick-draw On-Your-Hip communication device.

So how many rings does it take to alert someone to the fact they’re getting a call (on their hip)? Pick a number – 3-4, 5-8, 9-12? 3-4 suggests they want your business or at least your call. 5-8 is starting to push their luck and sounds to some like no one is home. 9-12, if the caller even hangs in for whatever says you’re out of business! Yet the 9-12 version has crept into the marketing new business world and it’s a killer! Worse than that, the Robo operator repeats the number rather than offering a name for whom your message was saved. Too much hi-tech!

For anyone, particularly marketing firms wanting new business, answer that phone in 3-4. (And bosses – call your numbers to see what’s going on)

Call us to test…

Agency Business Development During Wartime

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Dear Chuck,

I’m a new biz guy with a medium-sized agency in the Midwest. If it hasn’t been bad enough for the last two years, now  I (and we) have to look for and capture new clients during the course of a “world war!” And talk about “teasers” – the administration should be congratulated  for hanging us all out there, wondering when Russia will invade Ukraine. With today’s marvelous International news reporting, there’s no way to isolate us (me and my prospects) from what’s happening and when our economy will take the hit. And should we think clients aren’t meant to moderate their marketing and advertising accordingly? Silly not to. So how can I push when they are wanting to pull?

Dear Pusher,

I too am wondering where our fickle economy will head next. Although many may choose to bury their heads in the sand, there will always be the forward thinkers who will push on. Now’s the time to practice what “selective prospecting” is all about. You probably already have a list of potential candidates (if not, now’s the time) but now classify them according to: 1. Critical; 2. Essential; 3. Optional; 4. No! In other words, pursue those that will be critical, then Essential during war . Itime. Companies with frivolous products and services are less likely to survive themselves. Don’t let those mess up your agency’s and your future. ! Help is Here.

Are you the biggest barrier to your agency’s growth?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Guest Author Drew McLellan, CEO at AMI  

Written to the boss. However…

You want to scale the agency. You want to spend more time on new business. You want to be able to take a vacation and not check email. But you’re too caught in the weeds of client work to do any of that.

The subject line of this message is not a rhetorical question. Most agency owners and leaders ARE a bottleneck for the team. Which is one of the biggest barriers to their agency’s growth.

Why are you the bottleneck and why can’t you get out of the weeds?

It’s one or more of these reasons:

  • You’re doing work that isn’t really your job but no one else can do it as well as you do
  • The project/issue is thorny and no one else feels confident to step in and tackle it (even if they can)
  • You won’t let go (I know…not you, but other agency owners)
  • You don’t know how to teach your team how to do what you do
  • It’s comforting to do work you’ve been doing for years and can do without breaking a sweat…it feels good and it’s fun for you (so you hoard the work…again, not you but others)

What is the downside?

  • Your team is frustrated because they’re waiting on you but won’t speak up
  • Your billable rate wasn’t factored into the estimate so you’re tanking your profits
  • You aren’t actually growing your team so they’re more valuable and capable
  • You aren’t doing your actual job

The ONLY way to solve this problem is to train and trust your team to do the work you hired them to do (or hire someone if you have a gap). And then you actually have to let them do it.

What does that look like?

  • You set up regular mentoring/training meetings and coach your team
  • You let us (or someone else) train them at live workshops like our RE:Think Innovation/Big ideas workshop in February or our AE bootcamps (advanced in June and entry level in August)
  • You do some team learning/training with on demand courses (AMI has some, LinkedIn, Market Motive, etc.)
  • You just stop doing the work and let them flounder around until they get it right (how many of us learned through baptism by fire)

So…how are you going to solve this problem? Or are you content to be stuck? If you can solve this in 2022, you’ll never look back.

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