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The New New Business: Why Slow and Steady Wins the Race with Becca Falborn


Assembly's executive producer of business development on thinking outside the box, acknowledging strength and socialising

The New New Business: Why Slow and Steady Wins the Race with Becca Falborn

Becca Falborn has six years of experience in the niche corner of audio & sound design. In her current role, she's the executive producer of business development specialising in new business, developing & expanding services, offerings, and relationships for both LA-based audio post house, Lime Studios and NYC's budding post production colour, finishing & VFX house, Assembly. Becca's career path began over 10 years ago working in reality TV for 495 productions, went on to work at companies such as Nice Shoes, Hogarth, and Sound Lounge.

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?) 

Becca> I remember when I began as a producer in 2017, I was told upon being hired that I would be in a more “sales-based” producer role due to my willingness and ability to meet new people and network. I hit the ground running, I won a big PlayStation campaign within my first month that was pretty epic to be a part of. It was pretty intense, I remember feeling pretty emotionally invested once I had gone through multiple rounds of bidding and adjusting the numbers to align perfectly with the clients needs. The other campaign that I have to mention that stands out in my career as one of my most proud moments is the Dilly Dilly Bud Light campaign. It was one of the most well-known & iconic campaigns since Budweiser’s ‘Wazzup’ in the late ‘90s/early 2000s. Andrew Cravotta from Arcade Edit and I used to joke when he’d reach out to me that it was kind of “the gift that keeps on giving” for about two years. I was so proud, I remember telling my friends & family about it and them being so impressed with how quickly I was excelling as this came only a few months into my producer career. These kinds of campaigns definitely shaped me as a producer - the bigger the campaign, the more challenging. You have to be more innovative & more in tune with your problem-solving skills and push yourself to think outside the box. I learned that there’s always a solution to every “problem”; if your client is freaking out over something, whether it’s your problem or not, you get to help ease their worries and be their solitude. That’s what creates long-running, meaningful relationships.

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

Becca> The best advice is kind of two parts, one tidbit I got early on was pretty simple: to just be a good person, be good at your job, work your ass off, and work with people that make you proud. Clients will want to work with you and bring you business if you’re exuding positive energy and enthusiasm while representing the artists and companies you’re working with. The other was advice I got from my cousin Jackie the year I was promoted to EP and that was: “demand to be more self-aware” and I remind myself about that regularly. Next time you find yourself in a position where you’re reaching out to someone, ask yourself, “If I were them, would I bring myself business?”

LBB> And the worst? 

Becca> If you can believe it, I’ve actually gotten more bad advice than good advice. One that stands out was when I was out with clients early on in my producing days, the EP I reported to at the time told me that sharing my similar experiences with clients could come across as me “one-upping” them and that I shouldn’t be sharing my own previous experiences. You could tell this was coming from a place of insecurity and intimidation because the client in question had followed up texting me, mentioning how nice it was to talk to someone who shared similar experiences and how it made them feel like they weren’t crazy. Yes, it can come across as one-upping if you’re not careful, but we were simply relating to the fact that we had something in common. I learned that there’s different ways to connect with your clients and not every way works for everyone and that’s okay. As a leader, you shouldn’t ever dull someone’s light, acknowledge their strength and help them fine-tune, don’t ridicule unnecessarily.

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

Becca> Well, when I started it was years before the pandemic. So, yeah quite a bit has changed! People are all over the place, literally and figuratively, so your methods have to be as well. Some people still don’t want to come out of their newfound comfort zones and may not be interested in socialising, some people moved to remote areas where it’s much more difficult to connect with them in person over the traditional coffee, lunch, drinks, or dinner. You have to have a versatile, limitless product & service to sell them. You, as a business development specialist, need to be moving in the direction of a more creative approach so you can retain and grow your relationships despite these obstacles. Just send the LinkedIn message/email/Instagram DM. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no? At least you know you tried.

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

Becca> I personally think it definitely suits a certain personality. I have people tell me all the time, “I could never do what you do!” or ask me “How do you do it?” “Don’t you get tired?”…the answer is that I genuinely enjoy it (also, of course, we all get tired). I love my job. I tell the artists I represent that I couldn’t sit in a room with clients all day. Some of them love the social aspect, some of them lean toward the more shy & reserved personalities that are less inclined to participate in the “schmoozing” or the outreach “courting”. And that’s ok! We’re all different and that’s what builds a strong team, differing strengths & weaknesses & supporting each other through them. I genuinely enjoy and thrive on helping others, connecting with new people and introducing people to each other. It only further expands your network. 

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 to be 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?) 

Becca> I don’t think it should be done away with, it’s definitely not a thing of the past. I love doing screenings and participating in speaking engagements. I think that the industry is evolving and creating a wider creative space for ideas and personalities of all kinds. I conducted my first screening since pre-covid in September 2022 and it was considered a “creative showcase” and I had a lot of fun with it. Regarding businesses/parties who refuse to engage: I personally think it varies, I have encountered people who don’t even want to hear a pitch, or entertain your “spiel” and then others who LOVE to learn about what you have to offer. I also have won brand new business without any real “pitch” involved and just being good company to someone in the industry who wants to try a new restaurant & meet someone new. To those who are less willing to hear what us biz dev professionals have to offer/say: be open minded to the possibility of engaging with new creative & new talent.

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

Becca> This is *kind of* letting people in on one of my sales secrets - but I do intense research on the people I’m meeting, from their Instagram or Facebook accounts, to their LinkedIn, googling their names to see what they’ve been featured in, searching for credits on recent projects. I’ve found that people just want to be acknowledged and feel seen. I remember once a client talked about how much she loved the SmartFood white cheddar popcorn (which we bonded over) and when she was in the thick of it on a campaign - I sent her a family sized bag to her office and she was floored, emailed me a picture of it and everything. Another time it was a client's birthday and I wanted to appeal to her vibrantly colourful and eclectic style and personality so I sent her one of those rainbow, confetti-sprinkle filled cakes. Again, you have to appeal to your audience & make them feel seen, no matter how big or small the gesture.

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

Becca> Oof, I’ve definitely developed thicker skin over the years. It wasn’t always easy. It isn’t always easy. I still get discouraged sometimes. I always tell myself, “it’s not personal, it’s business” and that there’s enough work to go around for everyone. The rejections just motivate me to do better, win the next one, and improve my skills. I also meditate a lot, to help keep my head on straight and level. Highly recommend it to anyone who is under pressure.

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? 

Becca> It’s definitely a fine if not blurry line. I’ve developed incredibly meaningful friendships with people in the industry who fall into the category of “client”. I think it depends on the person. We all know what the ultimate goal is - and my industry friends know what I do and that I have goals and numbers to reach and meet. I’d say it’s 50/50 depending on the person - for some it’s easier, for others it’s a more fragile thing. 

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

Becca> First thing that comes to mind is to compliment the project’s creativity, show them you’re excited and invested in being their partner in the journey of this project. Throw in a joke, share a personal story or experience that may relate to the brand or subject of the project. Ultimately, we’re all consumers - eating, drinking, virtually experiencing, buying, absorbing all the same products we’re marketing. It’s validation and that translates into a successful campaign and partnership.

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

Becca> I think social media is an incredible way to connect with existing and prospective clients. I have created new client relationships with like minded people through Instagram DM’s, comments, and follows. Just a few weeks ago I had a client come up to me saying “Oh my gosh it’s Becca! We follow each other on Instagram!” Having said that, I think LinkedIn is one of the most useful platforms in our industry and you don’t need to have the paid version. You don’t need to be posting everyday or even every week. It’s all about engagement and building people up. I know I definitely stay aware of who is cheering me on and who is not, and others are very likely doing so too.

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? 

Becca> First and foremost, it’s all about positive reinforcement. Tell people on your team when they’re doing a good job. Be supportive, not combative. Happy employees who feel appreciated and supported by upper management do good work, put out good work, and bring in good work. Don’t let all the feedback for team members be when you need to provide critique or address something negative. Don’t put someone down just because it’s not exactly the same way you’d approach a situation. Acknowledge that not everyone you work with is going to have the same exact style. Getting people to a place of independent confidence and building them up only helps you be a better leader. This gives them the ability to better navigate through situations so that you can collaborate, easily delegate, and grow a stronger team to reach more potential clients. It’s a numbers game & there’s no reason to hoard the connections, introduce your team members, include them, promote them, support them. Clients love knowing that there is more support offered to them, and that they’re working with a company that recognises their people and encourages them to be their best selves.

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? 

Becca> Be confident, speak with conviction, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take the advice from the people who you’ve looked up to in the industry, be open to honest & sometimes brutal feedback, and above all, don’t be defensive. No matter how long you’ve been in this industry, you can always learn something new from someone regardless of their experience level. As I mentioned before, I’m of the mindset that you can always provide a solution to a client whether it be through your own team or a team you’ve networked with and can refer them to. Garnering meaningful connections is one of the most important parts of this industry - and that is how you garner results. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t burn yourself (or your team) out.

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Assembly, Fri, 03 Mar 2023 16:20:00 GMT