A command center (often called a war room) is any place that is used to provide centralized command to determine the best course of action.
Every agency needs a “new business war room”, a place within your building that is organized for and focused on nothing but new business.
Usually the new business person is the “odd duck” of the agency. Why? No one else likes doing what they have to do, which is to sell the agency. But it is amazing at how quickly the new business director can get roped into almost everything but agency new business. Endless meetings throughout most days with no time left for execution of the agency’s new business strategy.
When I served as the VP of new business for the BOHAN agency in Nashville, we were fortunate to have our own space dedicated solely for the purpose of new business. We often called it our New Business War Room, because this was the place that we were able to focus on the lifeblood of the agency’s new business efforts.
No matter the size of your agency, I would suggest that you designate an area just for the purpose of agency new business. Here are some of the features, equipment and arrangements we had for our new business area that may spark some ideas of your own:
- Comfortable seating for about 15 people. The chairs were on rollers and could be easily re-arranged or moved entirely out of the way.
- Not a typical conference table, but two tables that could be set apart for workshops, focus groups, etc. A large whiteboard, flip-chart, a large bulletin type display board. This provided us our own space where we could keep visuals of on-going new business projects.
- Large flat screen TV, wireless Apple keyboard and presentation remote, Apple Airport, DVD player and sound bar.
- Equipment and materials to create customized notebooks, presentation-leave behinds, RFP covers and special delivery boxes.
- A collection of agency work that was well organized, that could be easily gathered and customized for a specific prospect.
- Storage for agency collateral materials, new business direct mail pieces, printed agency newsletters, prospective client gift items such as hats, shirts, pens, thumb-drives, etc.
- Files: Hard copies of previous RFPs, new business intel on current prospective clients, materials from prior pitches.
New Business Server:
On our agency’s server, we had a designated area for new business that was password protected. Only a limited number of staff persons had access. It included:
- RFP resources: to help with new RFP requests, we had all of the previous RFPs broken down into sections such as Experience, Staff, Billings, Case Studies, Processes, Client Lists, Work Samples. This made the RFP process much easier.
- New business intelligence on prospective clients: current news, press releases, staffing info, current work, agency relationships, etc.
- Intelligence on competitor agencies: client lists, news updates, press releases, staff changes, etc.
- Electronic prospective client data base, a collection of prospective client data from sources such as The List.
- Electronic samples of the agency’s creative work and a system to add new work consistently.
- Web-based microsites for prospective clients, specific to certain areas such as healthcare and leisure products. Two of the agency’s core strengths.
- Downloadable Agency Fact Sheet and Agency Brochures that were specific to certain prospective client groups.
- Quiet, comfortable, individual offices, designed for long hours, for the entire new business team.
- Nice common areas for collaborative discussions.
- Our own kitchen area with bar seating. A nice plus for prospective client meetings as well as meetings for our our agency staff.
- Our offices included a large balcony overlooking the city of Nashville, where we also entertained prospective clients, after hour drinks, grilling, etc.
Having our own space on a separate floor of the agency allowed us to stay rifled focused on new business. Making calls, gathering intelligence, cultivating and engaging our prospects. It was amazing the amount of work we were able to do.
Systems were in place to keep us in the loop of the new creative work and we had consistent communications with our staff regarding the efforts of the new business team working on their behalf. We still participated in the monthly and quarterly meetings but avoided being brought in for a lot of the daily meetings that went on in one of the agency’s other four conference rooms.
I hope this can serve to help spark your own ideas for creating a space for your agency’s new business. Be sure and share some of your best ideas us.