Before any assets are organized, before any wire frames are laid out, before any sketches are started, before any pixels are designed, before any lines of code are written, and before any server environments are prepared, before anything happens... you have to sign a project.

You mean projects don't just fall from the sky? Well, in one form or another it has to start from somewhere, whether it's a referral, a new client, or an ongoing customer. Even with a killer portfolio, it's not always feasible to wait for the phone to ring.

If you're able to just snap your fingers and make work appear on command, more power to you. If not, and you ever find yourself having to do some sales, what follows are some musings from the business development department here at Firstborn about preparation, organization, getting and staying in touch, and keeping it all going. Sounds just like a project to me.

Promises, Promises

Flashback to June 2000: I was hired as a producer at Firstborn for what was at the time the company's largest client. I clearly remember on one of my first interviews asking the owners, "I'm not going to have to do any... sales... am I?" "Oh, no, no, no," they assured me. Cut to one year later, the dot-com bubble has come and gone, and we need to mobilize fast. What to do? "Oh, Kevin...?"

Fade to five years later. Under the guidance of Firstborn's President, Michael Ferdman, I'm now the company's vice-president of business development. We've tripled in size since I started; last year was our biggest year ever, and this year we're already surpassing that. (Yeah, I admit it, this last bit was a little gratuitous—what can I say; I'm in sales.) I thank my lucky stars for Firstborn's incredibly talented team of designers, developers, and producers, who are the heart of what makes our company successful and who create work that makes my job so much easier. But it wasn't always such a cakewalk. In fact, I slipped on the icing a few times before I was able to run with it.

Start Me Up

Like any daunting enterprise, preparation and research are vital. In my case, I started by doing a survey of all the classics in sales and motivational literature—Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Anthony Robbins... (OK, maybe not Anthony Robbins.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Arthur is vice-president of business development at interactive design agency Firstborn Multimedia (www.firstbornmultimedia.com).