Shout! Interview with Corey Eastman of Teehan + Lax

Estimated reading time: 5 min

Corey Eastman is the new business director at top user experiencer agency, Teehan + Lax.  He approached us saying “your blog is on my daily RSS feed along with other agency sales blogs.  I try to stay up to date.”  And we were so flattered, we asked if he’d like to be interviewed.

Corey Eastman, Biz Dev Director

Creative – what does it mean to you?

The Agency of the Future to me is all about balancing the client agency relationship.  In the past it’s favored the client and the agency has been reactive.  Blair Enns I’ve met a few times and I’m very influenced by his philosophy.  I look back to what he talks about – agencies being specialized and focused using conversations rather than presentations and being selective about who you work with.

I found the Teehan+Lax philosophy on the company page of their site.

John Lax and Jeff Teehan are two super smart guys.  When we started out, we chose not to rely on the legacy of working models passed down from old agency world as the basis for our new company. Instead, we challenged the conventional formula and created a new approach and process. Even as we’ve grown in size and scale, we still are committed to:

  1. partners on every piece of business, from the first pitch through to the final deliverables;
  2. small, agile teams to make the most effective use of your budget;
  3. direct access to the people actually doing the work, so no more “broken telephone” or account managers promising things that can’t be delivered.

How did you get into new business development?

My background is competitive athletics – I played professional hockey which almost made competitive sales a natural transition for me.  I’m very driven and I have a strong passion for success.

What training would you recommend for anyone wanting a career in biz dev?

I think it’s all about communication and sharing stories and ideas.  Reading, writing, speaking, listening and body language / personality.  I did toastmasters and they are very good at honing speaking skills; get formal sales training and invest in a company that will invest in you – I did the IBM program; take ownership and read blogs; read books (Spin Selling is my favourite).

What has changed in new business techniques in the past few years?

Marketing and sales are converging – the reason I think is the internet.  It’s put the consumer in control.  The buy/sell process – which has become more digital.  We are moving from conducting business offline towards being mainly online.  John Lax always says “we have to create more value than you capture” quote from Tim O’Reilly. 

The long term goals are important.  The people we are selling to are online if we can put out thought leadership and give value to them.  We put out Photoshop documents that allow designers and developers to create their own work.  This spreads out our reputation, goodwill and value.  And puts us top of mind and so when UX projects they come to us. The tools available online make it effective and efficient.  CRM tools were just large enterprise and now you can use Salesforce cheaply.  We did use Highrise but we gave up on it in favor of Salesforce – the integrations and plugins are powerful.

 You read our #FutureAgency blog post series – what do you think the agency of the future will be like?

I read this about balancing the client agency relationship.  It favours the client – they come up with the requirements and strategy and the agency responds to that appeasing what the client wanted.  Falling back on commoditised tactical work.  By becoming specialized or unique this is the key to shaping the agency of the future.  You will gain the expertise and move from compliance role to being a practitioner.

You do this by being specialized, speaking and being selective. Speaking – moving away from elaborate pitches to just having conversations – use words rather than paper.  We are moving towards a policy of not responding to RFPs.  We don’t want to just write proposals – it’s not a good way to start an engagement.   If someone gets in touch we like to get to a diagnosis process as soon as possible.  We do a define:design:build process.  There are a lot of tools we use for diagnosis – internal stakeholder meetings, we use Forrester.

Being selective – we constrained growth by being selective in the amount of work we take on.  We are passionate about our business it shows in the quality of our work.

What changes has your agency made recently to adapt to the new business environment?

I don’t think we have really changed – we hold true to our values.  To make epic shit and the qualities that come along with that.  Stuff that gets used, talked about and makes things better: qualities are passion, evolution.  If I have to put in an RFP I have failed as a business owner we have failed in these values.  An apples to apples comparison means I’ve failed to differentiate our business.

What advice would you give to other agencies contemplating their future and the #FutureAgency model?

Culture – make one that supports and encourages continuous learning.  If you focus on what you value it reflects in your culture.

What are your favourite Biz dev blogs?

  • Fuel Lines by Michael Gass
  • Win without Pitching
  • Sales School
  • The Sales Hunter
  • The Sales Blog by Anthony Iannarrio
  • Tom Searcy – Hunting for Big Sales
  • A sales – Keenan



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