With the release of our 2017 RSW/AgencySearch Agency-Marketer New Business Report, several stats are worth noting, specifically around an agency’s new business director efficacy and tenure.

One of the initial questions we asked agencies was “Have you hired a full-time new business hunter/director as part of your staff to prospect for leads in the past 3 years?”

55% of agencies responded they had not hired a new business director in the past 3 years.

Driving new business at an agency is a full-time job on its own, and tough to do when they’re trying to run a business day-to-day.

85% of agencies said their New Business Director lasted less than 2 years.

Ouch.  That’s a big number-compare it with CMO tenure, currently at 42 months, and you understand why agency partners get so frustrated with the hiring process.

We listed a few reasons why we see so high a percentage within agencies:

1) The New Business Director (NBD) doesn’t have a well-organized methodology

2) He/she is too green/not tenured enough.

3) The NBD is easily distracted by all the other things going on in an agency.

20% of agencies with an internal new business director report she or he as “very successful” and 40% say he or she was unsuccessful or middle of the road in terms of performance.

So what does this mean for agencies?

They need to get their new business act together.

As someone commented on a recent Adweek article we wrote on the topic:

The irony of this article is that the *quality* of the typical agency sales outreach contact with marketers has degenerated over the past decade. It seems to have gone from being a focus of senior partners, who offered genuine experience and perspective to a new client – often with an introduction from someone I respect to a never-ending stream of half-assed sales pitches from first-year SDR’s churning through LinkedIn braying generic value propositions to people 10 x their senior. Seriously, before you whine about in-house agencies… fix your sales process!

And…so what does this mean to you, the marketer?

With so much mediocrity out there, and so many agencies out there, YOU need to be selective and only really give a listen to those agencies that are reaching out with relevancy, are respectful of your situation, can bring value and and thoughtfulness to the conversation.


Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.