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The New New Business: Believing in the Process with Dominic Neukom

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Juniper Park\TBWA's business development manager on striving for the win, exuding positivity and how help is always around the corner

The New New Business: Believing in the Process with Dominic Neukom

Dominic Neukom has grown up at Juniper Park\TBWA, where he quickly rose into the agency’s new business role as their business development manager, carrying a 64% win rate. 

Prior to working in new business, Dominic worked as the account lead on Simplii Financial and UNICEF Canada where he led the development of UNICEF’s first Canadian brand campaign, ‘The Right to a Childhood’, which continues to be their brand platform to this day.

Dominic’s experience on the account side of the agency has helped him to develop bespoke business solutions for new clients and uncover incremental scope opportunities with the agency’s existing clients. 


LBB> What was your first sale or new business win? (Was it a big or small job? How difficult or scary was it? What do you remember about how you felt? What lessons did you learn?)

Dominic> In advertising, there are a few ways to sell; you can sell incremental scope opportunities to existing clients or pitch for new ones. Both are equally as important. 

My first new business win and pitch was CBC, the iconic Canadian broadcaster aspiring to deepen its roots in Canadian culture. Having grown up watching CBC, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity, but I must admit, it was scary. The pitch had a lot of requirements; it was lengthy, required deep strategic thinking, and CBC was looking for a high level of polish. I hardly slept the night before – the work was done but I was nervous! The day leading up to submission had me running on caffeine and EDM (Electric Dance Music). I proofread that submission five times and double checked the submission link three times, but boy was it worth it. My first win! You never forget your first win. 

My biggest learning was that you’re never alone. Help is always around the corner if you ask for it. There is also this new business energy that the entire agency gets behind. It’s exhilarating. 


LBB> What was the best piece of advice you got early on?

Dominic> Being competitive, I’m always striving to win, but I learned quickly that new business is filled with losses. The best advice I received early was from Juniper Park\TBWA’s president, David Toto, who said “You’ll lose more than you’ll win. Celebrate the wins, learn from the losses, and don’t beat yourself up.”  


LBB> How has the business of ‘selling’ in the creative industry changed since you started?

Dominic> In my early years, advertising was all about selling ideas to clients, but as we welcome more clients behind the creative curtain, the less I feel that ideas need to be sold. Clients want to be a part of the process and welcomed in early, so agencies have taken on more of a consultancy role.


LBB> Can anyone be taught to sell or do new business or do you think it suits a certain kind of personality?

Dominic> I’m a firm believer that anyone can be taught to sell. You just need to believe in the idea or product you’re selling. Your belief instils confidence and trust; every client wants to know they can trust you and that you have their best interest at heart. 


LBB> What are your thoughts about the process of pitching that the industry largely runs on? (e.g. How can it be improved - or does it need done away with completely? Should businesses be paid to pitch? What are your thoughts about businesses completely refusing to engage in pitching? How can businesses perform well without ‘giving ideas away for free?)

Dominic> The pitch process is slowly changing for the better. Recent years and the pandemic recognised the pitfalls of pitching. If agencies are being asked to provide spec strategy and creative, I believe they should be paid for their time. There is also a common fear that a client you’re pitching can take your concepts and strategy and use it for their own benefit, without awarding you the business. 

I don’t believe agencies should refuse to engage in pitching for new business. Year over year, we’ve seen a steady decline in client retainers and an increase in project-based work. This has resulted in a decrease in traditional agency AOR relationships. New business is an engine – you need to keep it steady, constant, and remain relevant to deliver growth. 

At the end of the day, we are creative problem solvers. You need to show your value, answer the client’s brief, and demonstrate how you’ll help them achieve their business goals. You also need to give clients no doubt they are making the right choice by selecting you. If your client is comfortable selecting an agency based on credentials and chemistry, that is also a way to win business without spec work. 

 

LBB> How do you go about tailoring your selling approach according to the kind of person or business you’re approaching?

Dominic> No one client is alike. I like to conduct a quick Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) evaluation on the client I’m selling to in order to understand how they act, think, and make decisions. HBDI evaluations are designed to measure and categorise thinking preferences in people by leaning into the four quadrants of the brain. This is a helpful method to tailor your selling approach to increase success. 


LBB> New business and sales can often mean hearing ‘no’ a lot and quite a bit of rejection - how do you keep motivated?

Dominic> I like to think I exude positivity. I remind myself that there will always be another pitch – clients change agencies quite frequently. I am also motivated by the sage advice from David that I mentioned above.  


LBB> The advertising and marketing industry often blurs the line between personal and professional friendships and relationships… does this make selling easier or more difficult and delicate?

Dominic> I’d argue this makes selling harder. Whether you win or lose, your friendship is held over your head. In my experience, when you’re pitching for a friend’s business, it’s yours to lose and agencies can’t lose focus on the prize. Just because you’re pitching for your friend’s business doesn’t mean you can phone it in. It’s rare the business will just be given to you and if it were, I would hope that choice benefits the client’s business and isn’t just for the sake of a friendship.   


LBB> In your view what’s the key to closing a deal?

Dominic> Always reinforce how you can benefit your future client, give them the confidence to stand behind their choice in selecting you, and always ask for the business! 


LBB> How important is cultural understanding when it comes to selling internationally? (And if you have particular experience on this front, what advice do you have?)

Dominic> Cultural understanding when selling internationally is critical! It’s equally as important when working in Canada’s most diverse city, Toronto. 

That’s what I love about working at Juniper Park\TBWA. Since inception, our CEO, Jill Nykoliation made a deliberate decision to hire talent globally, because a diverse team builds better ideas for the agency’s clients. Today, 47% of the agency was born outside of Canada. 

Global talent also allows us to provide a global perspective when solving a local client’s business problem as many of our staff have experience working on similar business problems around the world.  


LBB> How is technology and new platforms (from platforms like Salesforce and Hubspot to video calls to social media) changing sales and new business?

Dominic> Technology has aided in simplifying the new business process, but with the influx of video calls and the opportunity to work from home, people are drained with the virtual world we are operating in. We’ve proven working remote and digitally works – we’ve even had our best year to date during Covid – and found unique ways to sell, create, handle tech issues, display chemistry, and bring excitement when everyone is hidden behind a screen. 

With all that said, I often remind myself of something CEO, Jill Nykoliation, says: “New business is won in the room,” and that couldn’t be truer. The second offices opened and clients were comfortable meeting in person, we had an in-person pitch. The energy was electric. I’m happy to note we also won that pitch, and it just reinforced the importance of in person pitching. 

 

LBB> There’s a lot of training for a lot of parts of the industry, but what’s your thoughts about the training and skills development when it comes to selling and new business?

Dominic> This industry has been paved by the greats before me. Each have taught and left their mark on this industry. One effective way to learn is from their successes and failures. 

Being studious and soaking up as much information as you can about the industry, client’s business, sales, and tapping your leadership team is the best way to strengthen your abilities to sell. 

I also recommend podcasts, YouTube university, and finding a management team that lets you invent, explore, test, and fail. Never fear failing. 

Oh, and starting on the account side also helps. 


LBB> What’s your advice for anyone who’s not necessarily come up as a salesperson who’s now expected to sell or win new business as part of their role?

Dominic> Believe in what you’re selling. That’s the most important and trust me, it’ll show. And remember, “You’ll lose more than you’ll win, celebrate the wins, learn from the losses, and don’t beat yourself up.”

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Juniper Park\TBWA, Tue, 11 Oct 2022 15:11:58 GMT