I hate to rant, but after receiving my fifth frantic call/email from a recruiter this week looking for a Business Development ‘hunter’, I feel compelled to comment. There are a lot of macro reasons why hunters have become important to the ad industry, the first being the industry’s overall maturity, which creates high commoditization among agencies. Secondly, it’s a fragmented industry with new types of agencies popping up every day that didn’t exist five years ago, so there’s a greater need to create name recognition with prospects. Thirdly, every agency is rushing towards the same Holy Grail that includes social, digital and data – even if they don’t have those capabilities today – which creates ‘me, too’ messaging in the marketplace. If we all say we do the same thing, how is a prospect supposed to know who to hire unless someone is helping them navigate the maze? When you take this reality and combine it with the fact that there are shrinking advertising dollars in the US to go after, you have a veritable pre-requisite for a hunter inside every agency, no matter how big or small, young or old. But guess what? We don’t train and nurture hunters in our business. We don’t even call them sales people. We call them ‘business development’ people, and we often place folks there temporarily when the agency loses an account. That’s probably why there is no sales training for these people. We give them RFPs to answer and pitches to project manage, but we don’t teach them how to go out into the marketplace and sell in a strategic and consultative way to cold prospects like nearly every other B2B industry does. That’s probably because the senior executives at the agency have had no formal sales training themselves. They may be intuitively good sales people, but they have never institutionalized their approach so they can train others. Certainly, some executives who’ve worked long enough in our business build a ‘rolodex’ of contacts, making them the defacto new business expert in the agency. But this is not a sustainable model for our business as it becomes increasingly competitive. It’s time senior leaders evaluate the myriad B2B sales strategies available to them (I like Solution Selling – www.spisales.com) and train their business development team on the fundamentals of selling, so we can create the hunters we are so desperately seeking.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. julia regan wrote:
sad but true!

01.30.13 @ 1:10 PM

2. MatAssuro wrote:
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