Design Business
Hunters and Farmers

It’s easy for studios to fall into the habit of chasing new business only from existing customers.

We all know the 80/20 rule where 80% of our business comes from the top 20% of our clients. In most studios the owners are responsible for new business while often the designers are responsible for keeping the existing clients happy.

This model works if the designers are happy to sell extra services and jobs as part of managing client. The problem is that there’s only so much each client can buy, so finding new business from new clients is critical for growth in a studio. Some studios are employing business development managers (BDMs) to help the owner gain new business.

This leaves the studio owner or the BDM to find and approach potential clients. The reality is that studio owners and BDMs shun the uncomfortable task of cold-calling in favor of selling to customers they know well.

One way to do this is to separate these activities. This means you designate someone as a ‘hunter’, who focuses exclusively on finding new prospects, while a ‘farmer’ concentrates on existing customers.

The hunters are often consultative people who have a knack of finding and assessing an opportunity (even when others can’t see the opportunity) within a prospective client. The hunter can find a solution within the studio’s offering that meets a clients’ specific need. They are good networkers who are not afraid to ask for a sale. They know that they have a quality service and that they don’t have to compete on price. The studios I work with have developed sophisticated hunting techniques using Linkedin to identify and ‘stalk’ (in a nice way) the prospective clients. This methods removes the problem of cold calling and leads to approaches that acknowledge the prospective clients’ needs and the matching studio service.

I have worked with studios who did this and have developed a strong pipeline of new business.

Take away

Develop scripts for hunters and farmers to help them pitch for new work. Use Linkedin to identify prospects and don’t sell on price; be prepared to walk away if a prospect begins to focus on price.

Greg Branson

Contact Greg Branson if you would like to learn more about the many programs the DBC offers.

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Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.