The Business Development Story That Changed Everything for Andrew Robertson, Kim Davenport, and Bill Ruprecht with Mo Bennell

Mo asks Andrew Robertson: Tell me a business development story that you’re particularly proud of.

  • Andrew tells the story of a client in London that BBDO had been working with for 20 years and how they lost most of that client’s work after delivering a terrible piece starring John Cleese.
  • Instead of bailing on the client completely, Andrew and the team decided to stick with the unglamorous work that remained and deliver excellent results for the client, knowing that eventually, the rival company that won their former work would stumble.
  • By sticking with the client, they had the opportunity three years later to offer a new brand campaign, which was informed by the fact that they were still involved in the business and understood their needs.
  • Andrew signed Jamie Oliver, who wasn’t quite famous yet, after scouring London on Easter weekend physically to find him, and landed the business again.
  • Andrew learned three key lessons from the experience: be gracious on the way out, treat a rejection as a “not for now,” not a never, and the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
  • Even when you get fired, those relationships are still valuable and worth keeping alive.
  • We show our true selves much more in defeat than in easy victories. How you behave during the bad times says much more about your character than when things are good.
  • People are human, and it’s always hard to fire someone you’ve built a relationship with. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be, and keep adding value to the relationship after the fact. How you behave afterward will be remembered.
  • Even if you don’t win a project, that’s an opportunity to ask for feedback and give the prospect the opportunity to stay in touch. One loss is not the end, it’s the beginning of the next potential project.


Mo asks Kim Davenport: What is one moment around business development that you are really proud of?

  • Kim’s most proud moment was the first real significant opportunity she brought into her firm – the friend, who’s a vice president at an energy company, who she had a conversation with and who realized Kim and the firm she’s part of could help her business.
  • Kim is proud of what she did, of having the courage to go outside of her comfort zone a little bit to bring business into a conversation among friends. This was her first success story, and it happened before Kim was a partner at her firm.
  • That’s one of the moments that made her realize that BD isn’t about going around knocking on doors trying to sell something, but it’s about helping people, about leveraging and building relationships… and, yes, it’s fun!
  • Even though she’s process-driven, Kim recommends not to overthink things too much. Her advice is to just be a little courageous, and give it a try. Just ask the first question, make it natural. Don’t worry about what comes after that, just take the first step and see where it takes you.


Mo asks Bill Ruprecht: What is a story of business development that you are particularly proud of?

  • A business like Sotheby’s is a transaction business so Bill had been involved in thousands of transactions over the course of his career but one tale in particular stood out to him.
  • Bill traveled down to Florida to help an older lawyer sell $20 million in vintage cars and that began a 9-month process of negotiating. After months of back and forth, they finally signed the deal, and the auction itself was widely successful.
  • In extended negotiations, as the professional, you know what it will take to make the deal successful. It’s common for the other party to not fully know what they want and the key is to just keep the conversations going.
  • When the other party doesn’t know what they want, negotiating becomes a marathon or experimenting and exploring until they land on what was missing from the conversation.



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