There has been much debate about how best to do new business and organically grow a firm.

Land big clients

Want more new business? Turn loose your sharks!

In reality, there is probably no one right answer. There are, however, many right answers. In all cases it starts at the top. This is where sharks cruise, always searching, always ready to strike.

Ad agency senior management, the top talent, should be very active in establishing and maintaining relationships with prospects. This is called “Sharking.” Sharks have the attitude and with practice, the art on how to bring in more business. Sharking is part art, part skill, and part attitude. The good news is that the skills can be taught.

10 Rules of Sharking:

  1. Know your prey. Sharks learn about prospects in advance. Many potential Sharks make good starts at establishing fruitful relationships but forget that maintenance and cultivation of contacts is just as important. People don’t like to be pushy, and so we have a tendency to give up too early and swim away. Sharks know that you have to stay in touch with every contact.
  2. Circle and stay close. Sharking takes time. The key is to stay close to the prospect and at the first sign of need be ready to move. Do not expect to see results overnight. Once you set up a Sharking program you have to build relationships and gain trust.
  3. Find a weakness. Sharks are good at finding problems, needs, wants and concerns. The key to finding opportunity is to find pain in the prospects business. It’s not all about marketing. A good Shark will probe business needs, information movement, sales/communication issues, and any unproductive activities.
  4. Strike hard and fast. Sharks move fast when opportunity presents itself. There is a small window of opportunity that can be used to win without a formal presentation. Too much time allows needs to move on. Sharks always have a Fast Close process ready to go.
  5. Have good vision. Sharks look beyond the obvious solution and try to understand the real problem. Every opportunity Sharks find has winners and losers; the people and institutions that are involved in any decision. Sharks know how to navigate these and emerge as the winner.
  6. Silent is better then a loud splash. Sharks understand “less equals more.” The more a firm speaks about its capabilities, the less competent it appears. Most marketing firms drone on and on about what they can do. Sharks know how to introduce just enough about their firm to build trust, and then probe for needs and pain.
  7. Know how to listen. The primary skills for Sharks consists of listening, knowing what questions to ask, questions not to ask (let shortcomings be resolved with a solution, not the question), what to look for, what to ignore, and learning to recognize what the prospect doesn’t see or know about their business that could lead to future work.
  8. Recognize profiles. Chemistry is the biggest secret in Sharking. Everyone is not alike, and we each make decisions based on our personality. Sharks understand this and use it to their advantage.
  9. Win early. The proposal merely confirms a decision. Proposals are for losers. Most end up sitting and collecting dust. Sharks know to get a “yes” prior to writing a proposal.
  10. Follow a system. Sharks know new business is not random. Rather it is the result of hard work, dedication and having the right system. Nudges, Sharking Events, mailers, and metrics are all part of a strong system.

Ad Agency Senior Management New Business Training.

Sharking! Training, a full-day session, teaches senior personnel why it’s so important that everyone on the management team actively participates in the new business process. It turns senior managers into Sharks, always on the prowl for new growth opportunities, both organic and external. Specific skill sets are taught that show senior managers how they can large clients by incorporating simple steps and procedures into their normal business routines.

A few comments from our last Sharking! Training session:

“Best training session I have ever attended and it definitely takes something very special to hold 30 people’s attention for a whole day. Extremely worthwhile and very useful.”

Senior Account Executive


“I absolutely loved the training session. It was a real treat to spend a whole day being inspired to go out there and win new business, and to gain some insights into our existing clients and how we might work with them to strengthen our relationships and generate more business. Here’s to bringing in more clients!”

Account Director


“The whole office has been completely enthused by the training! Everyone is energized to get even more involved in new business and bringing new ideas to the table. I’ve come away with a lot of ideas and am confident that some of his suggested techniques will be very useful in helping us to differentiate ourselves.”

Managing Director


“I thought the training was excellent. Unlike other training sessions which frankly leave you inspired but without actionable steps, I have an a-z of new business processes and procedures in my head. I truly believe that we will see the benefits of the session as an agency.”

Account Director


To learn more about Sharking! and how it might help your firm grow faster by teaching your senior team how to fish for new business, call Sanders Consulting Group at 412.897.9329 or drop us a line at [email protected]. We will have you unleashing a pack of well trained Sharks on your best prospects before you know it.


Photo by BrianPBailey