The Agency New Business Blog


Onboarding Your Agency’s Business Development Hire

Posted by Mark Duval on Jul 7, 2016 7:30:00 AM
Find me on:



This is the fifth post in our series about how to hire a new business development person for your agency. Read our first, second, third, and fourth posts here.

How do you set your new business director up for success during their initial 90 days? What do you need to do (as an agency owner) to ensure they have what they need to execute in their role? In this post, I'll address the necessity of onboarding your agency's business development hire.


Onboarding Process

Using an established onboarding process is important for the success of your sales and business development hires. If your agency’s positioning and messaging are muddled or fail to differentiate your business, it's a good idea to correct that ahead of onboarding. If your positioning is compelling and ready to go, an onboarding process should include:

  • Positioning & messaging (marketing documentation, emails, etc.)
  • Defining target prospects, buyer profiles, and personas
  • Learning case studies, white papers (and other examples of thought leadership)
  • Getting familiar with sales tools (database, CRM, CMS, etc.)
  • Setting benchmarks (this is a shared responsibility, TBD with the new hire)
  • Expectations and results (this should have been agreed to during the final interview before extending the job offer; how will these be measured?)


Agency Differentiation: Stories and Positioning

It’s important your new hire understands how your agency is different from the hundreds of other agencies also pursuing their prospects. John Heenan did a study of 150 marketers a while back that found 63% were contacted by an estimated three or more new agencies each week. You can help your salesperson succeed by giving them not only your case studies but also the stories behind them so they can draw on them and illustrate the reasons why your agency stands apart. It may be your new hire’s responsibility to seek you out for these stories, but when they do, be ready to provide them.

During this onboarding period, your new hire should build relationships, internally and with clients.

Agency Culture

Your new business development person must have a certain amount of knowledge to succeed in their job. Part of that is understanding your agency’s culture. For some clients, agency culture is an important point of differentiation and a key selling point. A salesperson must be ready to articulate those aspects. But agency culture is for more than just selling.

If you want your new hire to succeed, aim for more than their understanding of agency culture — get them immersed in it. In the agency setting, when you have a small sales / business development team, there’s a risk of division between “creatives” and “non-creatives” or “sales” vs. “marketing” types of positions. If you want business development to take off, you’ll need cross-functional communication and a culture flexible enough to envelop all team members. Don’t overlook the importance of making your new hire feel like a part of your team.

Onboarding Your New Agency Biz Dev Hire: First 30 Days

Besides soaking up agency positioning and building relationships, in the first 30 days your new hire should develop a plan to help themselves reach their goals. This plan should include what types of activities they will do within a given period, and how much of those activities. For example, they might create a document or spreadsheet that tracks, on a daily or weekly basis:

  • Emails sent
  • Phone calls made
  • LinkedIn activity
  • In-person networking
  • Referrals  

As they review agency case studies and marketing materials, your new hire should start to define their target list. They should review the previous new business activity and clean out the existing pipeline.

In 30 days, they should know:

  • The key points of agency differentiation (what makes your agency different?)
  • The agency’s core competencies and areas of expertise (both services and industries)


Onboarding Your New Agency Biz Dev Hire: First 60 Days

In the first 60 days, your new hire should continue to build relationships and internal support within the agency. By now, they should have identified their first round of prospect targets and be engaging them through outreach and marketing efforts, tracking in their plan.

Onboarding Your New Agency Biz Dev Hire: First 90 Days

In the first 90 days, your new hire should demonstrate a strong knowledge of your agency’s services and unique value proposition. Continuing with their hunting efforts, they should be able to show you their activities against their plan and tell you how they are progressing toward their goals. To keep them on track, ask them about their activities; for example, what worked and what didn’t during prospect interactions? At this point, your new hire should be able to articulate your “elevator speech,” tying your agency’s solutions to industry pain points.

My recipe for onboarding success includes process, positioning, culture, and benchmarking. Do you have an opinion about where the onboarding process tends to go wrong for agency new business hires? Let me know.

Next week is the final post in this series, and I’ll be talking about the retention and ROI of new business professionals in the agency environment. Stay tuned…

Start hiring for retention & ROI now!

New Call-to-action


Read more:

Image credit: © lipskiy / 123RF Stock Photo; modified by resizing and text overlay.

This was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse by Mark Duval on June 16, 2016.

Topics: Hiring an Agency New Business Person

Recent Posts

New Post: