I wanted to take some time to talk to you about some exciting changes that are happening at Snook in our New Business Development (NBD) team. Don’t stop reading. NBD is fun!
Design agencies share many things in common, and one of them is that we love to talk about the work that we do. Sure, a part of this might be the classic designer ego kicking in, but I like to think of it being a result of us doing meaningful work that we want to share with the design community.
We do this a bunch of different ways. We might put some case studies on our websites – although we’re all pretty terrible at keeping these up-to-date. You might see us speaking at conferences or local meetups, or maybe you’ll find us chatting with peers over coffee.
I guess the thing we don’t talk about quite so much, but is absolutely essential to the success of any design agency, is winning that work in the first place. I’m not quite sure why this is. Maybe it’s because we worry about giving away trade secrets about our NBD (new business development) approaches – even though every agency I’ve worked at/with does things in mostly the same way.
Well, I want to talk about it for a little bit here, because we’re planning on changing up how we do new business development at Snook, and we’ve got some exciting new roles to share.
We’ve a small new business team at Snook, and a good amount of the work is shared across the various practitioners in our wider team. This makes sense on a practical level. If we’re delivering a service design project, you’d want service designers proposing the approach we should take and estimating (based on their experience and our playbook) how long that approach might take.
Snook has grown a lot in the last few years, both in terms of the size of our team, the complexity of our work, and the type of work that we do. It’s important that our approach to finding and winning new work also grows and evolves with us. We’ve more researchers and designers now than we’ve ever had, so we need more great projects for them and we need a larger new business team.
Our portfolio spans multiple sectors and disciplines. Some of the team might be doing essential service mapping work within the NHS, some might be working on a digital intervention to tackle domestic abuse in Scotland and others might be working with a small local charity on a much needed service.
So, we’re looking to bring in some new roles, which we’re calling “Sector Leads”, to be our new business leads in, well, those sectors. I guess that’s quite straightforward.
What is less straightforward I think, is finding the right people for these roles. We’re not looking for what you’d call traditional Sales People. I know that works for some, and congrats, but so often this can fall flat at design agencies. It’s not just about winning some work. That work needs to be deliverable for the team, and not something that gets thrown over the new business fence and lands on the lap of a poor project team.
This is where finding the right folks for the role gets a little tricky. We need practitioners in these roles. To be really clear, that means we want people who have held posts as researchers or designers. You don’t have to have been in a traditional sales role before either, but we know that many seniors, principals or heads of departments have experience of being involved in new business development to various levels.
I’ll be honest, I do wonder if the “new business” part of this role will put off some practitioners, but I’m really excited about these roles, and I thought it might be helpful to talk a bit about why I’m excited and what these roles will entail:
- New business is fun! Honest! There’s always interesting opportunities coming in, and there is a macabre thrill in the winning and losing aspect of things.
- These are very strategic roles, and you’ll be leading on the creative direction of our propositions, pitches and proposals for your sector.
- You’ll get to direct key projects and make sure the client and their users are getting what they need, further solidifying those relationships and winning more work with them – when you see a job through to the end and done well, it’s super rewarding.
- For those who love research and predicting future trends based on it, there’s a lot of that.
- You’ll get to shape the focus of the business based on what you know about certain industries. What are the needs, what new roles and service propositions might we need to grow at Snook?
- You will get to spend your time meeting new people to develop relationships
- We want you to know a sector inside and out, working with marketing to create creative campaigns
- You get to work with some of our amazing people across our teams to build thoughtful and interesting responses to bids.
As you’d expect, you will have targets to meet (that you will play a key role in defining) and will need to bring in new business, but at its heart, the role is really about understanding your sector, the key people in it and helping Snook be the best it can be in delivering for our clients.
We’re looking to bring in sector leads for our core market areas, Central Government, Local Government, Healthcare, and the Charity sectors.
The post holders will spend around 75% of their time building relationships with key clients and establishing Snook in their sector, and 25% of their time as Project Directors on key projects, working closely with our project teams to deliver great outcomes.
We know this isn’t a new approach – as I said, Snook practitioners have always been actively involved in new business – and they still will be! This was previously championed and spearheaded at Snook by the magnificent Sarah Drummond.
The challenge with depending so much on our practitioners in new business development, especially as we grow, is it can lead to a balancing act where we can expect too much of our team. Instead, by having this dedicated team, we can ensure we’re allowing them the time, space and focus that they need.
We’re releasing some of these roles now, and you can read more about them below. If you’re interested in any of them, or have questions, please feel free to get in touch with us via email, using the subject heading “Sector Leads” at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central Government Lead
We’re recruiting for a Central Government Lead. We’re looking for someone with the vision to shape how Snook works with central government. Ideally you’ll already have your own strong network within central government. In this role, you’ll build and grow relationships with key people and organisations, spot trends and find amazing opportunities. Like I said, we need someone who has extensive practitioner experience of user-centred design or research and who knows the sector inside out.
Charity Sector Lead
We’re also recruiting for a Charity Sector Lead. Again, we’re looking for someone to lead how we work with charities. Like the other sector leads, you’ll already have a good network within the Charity Sector, and you’ll be capable of building and growing relationships within the sector, identifying trends and finding amazing opportunities. And yep, we need someone with a practitioner background in user-centred design or research and who knows the sector inside out.
Business Development Director
Finally, we are also recruiting for a Business Development Director who will direct this team of Sector Leads. We’re looking for someone with a strong understanding of user-centred design and research to lead on business development, but for this role you don’t necessarily need to have been as hands-on with user-centred design and research in your previous roles. You’ll have extensive experience in building strong, strategic relationships that will enable you to support our growth in key market areas. You’ll have a keen understanding of the commercial aspects of running a business to help us grow, meet our revenue goals and increase our profitability.