Archive for the ‘KPIs’ Category

Winning like a pro

September 13th, 2016

As our Paralympians continue the gold rush in Rio it seems that Team GB has managed to pull off the seemingly impossible – matching up to that glorious golden summer of London 2012. As Miranda Hart described so brilliantly in her love letter to Team GB we have been swept along in a wave of athletic prowess, mindboggling endurance and national pride. Most of all, we are doing that most un-British of things. Again, and again, we are winning.


And as someone who has spent their entire career focussed on winning (the business kind) I can’t help but look at this performance (the sporting kind) and wonder what we can learn from such success.


There is good news for those of us focused on winning new business, rather than medals. We really can apply the very same techniques used by those finely honed athletes to improve our win ratios without even breaking into a sweat. You almost certainly know about it already. It’s called marginal gains.


Let’s take a step back, if you haven’t yet heard about David Brailsford and the story of his success with the British cycling team then you can read about it here. Its an incredible feat – taking the cycling team from a single gold medal in 76 years to the success we see today. In short the marginal gains philosophy (also previously referred to in business circles as nudge theory) focusses on small (1%) improvements in individual elements of performance which over time positively effect the overall result. In cycling, these improvements ranged from riders’ use of antibacterial hand gel to reduce illness and increase training time, better mattresses to improve sleep quality and wind tunnel testing to improve aerodynamics.


In Rio this year, evidence of marginal gains was apparent in many interviews with our winning athletes, and not just in cycling. Teams of people were credited, not just coaches but nutritionists, clothing technicians and medics and more.


So how can we apply this theory to agency new business? Put simply we need to step back and break down the process. We need to look at the individual elements of our marketing and sales process and look for small improvements.


Here are just a handful of the elements I see underperform again and again:


  • Client and prospect data management
  • Website performance
  • LinkedIn
  • Content creation and planning
  • Credentials documents
  • Credentials meeting preparation
  • Effective post-meeting follow up
  • Client development research & planning
  • Client satisfaction measurement
  • Promoting referrals


And that’s without the BIG ONE – pitch planning.


Applying a marginal gains philosophy won’t be easy. It requires honesty, commitment and buy-in from the whole team. But imagine if you could make a 1% improvement to each of these steps. How much would that effect your win ratio and ultimately, your bottom line?


To find out how to improve your agency marketing and new business performance, get in touch.







What’s in a number?

March 11th, 2015

How well is your agency’s marketing performing? About average? Getting better? Could work harder?


What about your new business pipeline? Is it growing? What does ‘good’ look like? And which marketing activity is producing the best leads?


And what about your clients? Are they happy? If so, how happy? Are they more or less satisfied than last year?


If you are asking yourself some or all of these questions then you are off to a good start. A successful marketing and new business programme requires continual monitoring, not least because budgets are always limited and resource is stretched – so efficiency and effectiveness are paramount.


I’ve written much about the importance of measurement before. And not just measurement of results, but of activity too.


Even the most beautifully crafted marketing and new business plan can fail miserably if the small, manageable steps required for implementation are not being tracked. Momentum is lost and suddenly weeks, then months have gone by without action.  So measure everything – with digital tools to support so much of our marketing and sales activity, pulling this information together has never been easier. The data is all there, waiting to show you what’s working and what isn’t. Use it, analyse it, report it. Audience numbers, site visitor numbers, content view numbers, sharing numbers, database numbers. What’s gone up, what’s gone down, by how much, why?


Tracking your new business pipeline seems obvious, of course you’re going to track monetary value, but try tracking and cross referencing volume of leads at the same time – this fluctuation alongside marketing campaigns will be revealing in itself.


And then there is client satisfaction. The benefits of measuring your relationships with your clients go far beyond simply identifying service shortfalls or promoting referrals. In fact there’s a dedicated post coming next month to detail exactly how a well-executed programme can impact your bottom line.


But for now let’s focus on the numbers. Client interviews are always enlightening, the conversations shedding light in the most unexpected ways but it is when you combine this qualitative insight with quantitative data that you can truly understand how you are performing. Did you do better this year than last year, overall, by client, by individual, by service, by team…. What’s gone up, down, by how much, why?


To find out more about Gunpowder’s bespoke Client Satisfaction programmes contact Lucy Mann.


Do you know your new business ROI?

June 25th, 2013

I recently had the pleasure of spending a morning with Otto Stevens from Waypoint. As the former CFO of iris Worldwide, Otto knows a thing or two about growing profitable agencies so I was keen to understand his thoughts on new business. I particularly liked what he had to say about ROI so asked him to share his views on here:


It seems curious to me that not many agencies have definitive outcomes to measure the return on investment (ROI) in new business. 


Now when I say new business I mean new business personnel, marketing and research costs, pitch costs. Many agencies when planning for the new financial year will realise that they have a gross profit gap that needs to be filled. You can get this from existing and new clients.


Why shouldn’t you measure new business in the same way as you measure the productivity of agency people? If you measure it, you can manage it.


  • How effective is the new business attraction and conversion?


  • Did the pitch costs justify the gross profit won?


  • Is the new business director doing his/her job?


In my experience if your investment in new business is not returning gross profit on a factor of at least 6 times in 12 months then perhaps you should return to the drawing board.


Interested to know more? You can contact Otto here or, if you are thinking of going back to the drawing board, see me.


Show me the money (part one)

December 4th, 2012

Having been a new business employee, employer, client, service provider and recruiter, I have been asked many times over the years to advise on the thorny issue of performance related pay.


There tend to be two instances when discussions around commission or “win bonuses” crop up. The first is when recruiting in house new business talent, the second when hiring external new business support, typically a new business or lead generation agency.


In both cases, I would urge proceeding with caution. Unless such deals are structured with care, either or both parties will be left feeling short changed.


From the outset, a win bonus seems, well, a win win for both parties. The business will only need to pay out having secured extra revenue and the new business person, or supplier will be motivated by the prospect of getting the lead over the finishing line. But this is exactly where the theory can start to break down.


I’m a firm believer in performance related deals, but first we need to define performance. New business talent comes in all shapes and sizes, with an array of differing strengths and specialisms. There are a rare few who can single handedly sniff out an opportunity, make introductions, stay connected, concoct the strategy, creative, then lead and close the pitch. More often, you might have a brilliant opportunity spotter, networker or pitch manager but the winning itself is down to teamwork – the chemistry between the client and agency client lead, a cracking strategy, creative work, and ultimately the end of year billings for that client reflect on the performance of many, many individuals across the agency.


So when thinking about a win bonus, whether for a new business manager or supplier make sure the bonus reflects the parts of the process where they have influence or control. If they can influence opportunity creation or an agency shortlist, then agree the criteria and reward accordingly.


Sometimes there is no escaping a revenue percentage deal. If this is the case then spend time on definitions. Project or first year income? Turnover, revenue, gross income or net profit? Be sure to work through a variety of scenarios until you are comfortable with all possible outcomes.


I’ll leave you with the mighty Dan Ariely putting pay and performance under the microscope in this illuminating video.