What the new business world can learn from Roger Federer...

We have seen many new business agencies fail in their endeavours and often put a damming reputation on a skill-set that we are passionate about.  They fail for many reasons – promising the world and delivering low budget, unqualified meetings; hiring account managers who have never stepped foot in an agency; a lack of client support with additional marketing activity; lack of a proper brand positioning and differentiating USP etc.

Ultimately, our opinion is that lead generation should be the end game, not the beginning.  Plugging a sales pipeline with cold calling is often like putting a masking tape on a leaky bucket – you might slow the problem but the cracks are still there an eventually they will show themselves again.  When we think of new business, we think in B2B ecosystems and campaigns.  We think of different sources of leads, sales cycles, conversion rates at different stages, events, PR, social media, messaging, referrals, networking, advertising, content, research, prospecting, presenting – this is proper new business development.  Not someone who can just bash a phone all day.

New business is about the long game, consistency, having a clear strategy and putting in place a robust programme to give you a short, medium and long term sales pipeline.  On top of this, you need to act like a brand.

As you know, Roger Federer won his 20th Grand Slam recently. Where several players were forced to withdraw from major tournaments or end their seasons early, Nadal and Federer can stay relatively healthy and capitalise on this.

As top competitors, young and old, battled against blisters, injury, and heat exhaustion under a broiling Australian sun, Federer protected his body and conserved his energy by exploiting his opponents’ weaknesses to keep points and matches as short as possible.

Pitching can sometimes feel like this and trying to take on too many ‘wrong’ opportunities will give you exhaustion and mental fatigue.  Therefore, it’s important to know who you are as an agency and be polarising as a brand.  Attract the briefs and clients that are right for you and turn off the timewasters, ensuring you qualify them in and out.

The other thing Federer has, is a brand.  Federer has changed coaches, rackets, schedules over time, but one thing is unaltered: Him and the crowd. He connects with people.  When marketing an agency, it is easy to get swept up in the services you provide or your innovative solutions, but ultimately behind each brand you're trying to work with, is a person – the decision maker.  A person you are trying to connect with.  Someone with emotions and business challenges that you need to empathise with.  Let’s face it, there are many businesses out there that do what you do.  So why should they choose you?  They will choose you because they trust you, or they have a gut instinct to work with you – but know this - they will buy emotionally and post-rationalise later.  This is what you need to tap into to win their hearts as well as their minds.

And lastly, Federer's genius is that he oozes confidence.  Even during the pre-match minutes, where players warm up on court together, become a showcase for Federer’s unnerving confidence.  Confidence is attractive and this is no different when it comes to winning new business.  No matter the stakes, Federer stays cool, strolling around, effortlessly swinging through perfect practice serves. From his demeanour, it is easy to imagine he’s already won and the match itself is mere formality, just a bit of fun for the spectators.  If you want to win the big accounts, you need to demonstrate this confidence through every touchpoint and especially when you get in the room to pitch.

But Federer, even when he’s not at his best, is capable of edging anyone over a cliff. If his serve is off, he can still take away your time; if his timing is off, he can still find an angle; if everything is off, he still has the history, the support of the crowd, and the hardware to put it in your mind that somehow, he’ll find a way to beat you. And then he usually does.

He’s a multi-faceted winning machine.  Lead generation is just one part of a new business programme (a decent forehand) but without the foundations and all round game, you will be running all over the court and stretching to find winners.  We don’t want you to waste and more time or money on solutions that aren’t right for you.  We want to see new business done right and with integrity and maybe one day call ourselves the 'Roger Federer's of new business'.


If you like this post, you might want to read our earlier post: Lead generation should be the endgame - not the beginning