I got an email from an AE who had attended one of my workshops.  She was frustrated because her client called her boss (the agency owner) directly about an issue.  She felt like the owner undermined her role with the client by taking the call and not including the AE in either the conversation or the solution.

Here’s what I said:

This is a great example of something you should talk to your boss about.  Explain to him that you want to be your clients’ go to resource and ask him for his advice on how to make that happen.  Also — ask him to help you establish your credibility with the clients by either suggesting they speak to you or at least saying “let me dial <AE’s name> in on this call so we’re all on the same page” or something like that. 

But it sounds like you have some work to do, in terms of really earning your client’s trust and confidence. It takes time — you don’t get it automatically and it’s easy to lose.  Here are some ways you can accelerate the process:

  • Over-communicate proactively (have a regular rhythm of updates etc. so they can count on them)
  • Anticipate future issues, challenges and opportunities and talk to the client about them (ideally on a weekly or bi-weekly call) in a heads up fashion rather than a “this is screaming down on us” thing
  • Spend more time with the client/on site if you can.  Nothing is better than face time
  • Get smarter about the industry and share that knowledge
  • Be über responsive.  Their emergency is your emergency.  They want to feel like your only client, even though it’s not your reality
  • Get to know them personally.  It’s much harder to be aloof with someone you know and like

No one wants you to succeed more than your boss.  He has a vested interest in you doing well.  So tap into that and make him your biggest fan — not because you are perfect but because you are trying harder than anyone else.

But you also need to understand that he’s wired to react when a client calls.  It’s rarely just to chat or because the client is ready to gush all over the agency.  It’s usually because there is a problem and the client didn’t have confidence that you could solve whatever the problem is.

I know you’re new at this and you’re not going to get it all right all of the time.  The worst thing you can do is try to hide or disguise the fact that you’re in over your head now and then.  Be aggressive in seeking coaching from your boss and asking his advice.  Show him that you want to keep getting better. The more you are transparent with both what you’re doing well and where you are struggling — the less he has to watch/evaluate.  When you make a mistake (and you will if you haven’t already) — own it quickly and make no excuses.  Then — ask for some mentorship about how to avoid doing it again.

Show him that you genuinely want to keep improving and you know you have room to grow.  That will buy you some grace for when things go wrong.  Which they will.

Hope this helps!