AD 2 Dallas & AAF Dallas Social Spotlight: Sara Junkin

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Meet Sara, this month’s Social Spotlight. Sara works at Matchbox as a Business Development Director. She’s a Dallas native who graduated from SMU with her BFA and earned her MFA at UNT. Get to know more about Sara and her journey to being a Business Development Director.

What was your first job out of school and explain how you landed that role?

I studied Fine Art (Photography) in school, so I was primarily teaching art at local colleges and doing odd jobs right out of school.

How did you find yourself in the advertising industry and did you always know you wanted to be in new business/sales?

I was an art major and would have never guessed I would land in a sales role, but I love it! I was always interested in the business side of the creative industry which eventually led me to work for a talent agency. They represented stylists, talent, and location bookings for commercial/advertising photo shoots. I wore a variety of hats in that role and dipped my toe in some business development and really enjoyed that aspect of it.

How would you describe your typical day?

It’s always a little different. My day might include some research on potential prospects, making phone calls (including cold calls), meeting potential clients (or prepping for a meeting), putting together a scope/budget and proposal for potential projects, brainstorming on content for an email blast or outreach to prospects.

What are three qualities one must have to really kick butt in business development?

Drive, a positive attitude, and strong communication skills.

How did you find yourself in your current role working on new business for Matchbox?

I found out about Matchbox through a college friend who worked here and they raved about the people and culture. I had some (limited) business development experience in my previous job and wanted to give it a shot at Matchbox. That was 5 ½ years ago.

What sort of tactics do you use to go after new business? Or what approach do you find works the best?

I use all sorts of outreach tactics—LinkedIn, email, calls, handwritten notes, etc. Landing new business is often about the right timing. If you’ve established a relationship with someone and you are top of mind, they will reach out when the timing is right. I’ve never taken the approach of being pushy but I am persistent in staying in front of prospects.

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What is the most important thing potential clients want to know about your agency before working with you? In other words, outside of capabilities, do they really care about your process, transparency, communication style, adaptability, agency ethics, etc.

We tend to go up against agencies that are much larger than us. That can sometimes be a pain point for certain clients—they want to make sure their project can be handled efficiently without the multiple layers of bureaucracy of a large agency. We focus a lot on our process and approach. It’s an aspect of our company that our creative team has worked hard to refine for 21+ years, so we take a lot of pride in our process and the success it has for our clients. It’s important that our potential client’s goals align with our approach.

What is the biggest misconception about business development/sales for a creative agency?

Personality drives sales. It is preparation and making sure you understand your prospective client’s needs and showing how you are different from all other competitors that make the difference.

There can be a lot of rejection that comes with new business development, how do you stay positive?

It can be difficult sometimes. In the beginning, I would tend to get caught up on a job I really wanted to win, and that can be a bit consuming if it doesn’t work out. You always have to look forward to what’s next and not take it personally. It’s just business! It might be timing, budget, or simply not the right fit. If you have the mindset that it will work out if it’s the right fit and you keep the pipeline full, you’ll be set.

What makes Matchbox standout against other agencies?

I’ve never been around a group of such wildly creative people that are so humble. There are no egos in this office, and that can be unusual in the design world. I’m amazed by the level of recognition and awards Matchbox has received over the years, but the vibe here is just good, hard-working people that appreciate great design, and love what they do. Everyone talks about company culture, but Matchbox has something really special. It sounds corny, but it’s truly a family atmosphere, and that kind of environment fosters a collaborative, supportive, creative space that allows our team to do their best work.

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

Keep all options open. The harder you look, the more opportunities you will find.

Business development has a lot to do with managing first impressions. Does Matchbox do anything special to leave a lasting impression on potential business?

We love when we can host a potential client meeting at our office in Deep Ellum—our space reflects our personality as a firm and helps give a feel for who we are and what we do. Personality fit is vital to us with potential business. We don’t do anything special; we always want to be ourselves (this includes being subjected to our office dogs and lots of cowboy boots).

What advice do you have for people who are interested in pursuing a career in business development for an ad agency?

You have to be okay with rejection without taking it personally. The nature of sales ebbs and flows, but the variety is what makes it fun and exciting. There is always room to improve and be better. It takes time to build relationships and feel confident about what you’re pitching, so be patient!