Client Relationships

Sales Prospecting: How to Talk to Prospects & Win their Business with Robin Boehler

Prospects. Ever thought about dating them?  Sounds odd I know but my podcast guest Robin Boehler has developed a matchmaking skill between clients and agencies that is bar none. Robin is the co-founder of Mercer Island Group, a boutique marketing and management consultancy. Their analogy of the review process as a form of dating really helps agencies examine how they present themselves to prospective clients and then Robin and her team help them tweak that to differentiate themselves so they stand out from the crowd. Most people want to date the stand out, not the wallflower. Come learn from Robin and I how to stand out by: Getting the agency-client relationship right from the very beginning Why truly differentiating your agency is so crucial The importance of doing your research on a prospect before ever speaking to them and how to do it well Why you should never start out a pitch talking about your agency (and when is the right time to do so) Why networking is the best way to get the opportunity to have quality conversations with prospects Robin’s sales prospecting methodology How to spark curiosity in communication to prospects Robin’s strategy for reaching out to connections that you haven’t spoken to in a while Why you shouldn’t hold back a really smart question just because you don’t want a competing agency to hear it Why each conversation you have with a prospect is the only one that matters Why you must show true interest in a prospect’s business and then learn from what the prospect tells you Robin Boehler is a co-founder of Mercer Island Group, a boutique Marketing and Management Consultancy, a pre-eminent agency search consultant to clients and growth [...]

By |August 24th, 2017|

Has Your Agency Lost Its Swagger? Tips for Boosting Your Confidence & Winning New Clients

The recent recession beat the life out of agencies and their owners. We were so busy begging for business and compromising on our rates that, by the time the economy recovered, we had gotten used to acting beholden to our clients. During this, we lost our swagger. Thanks to years of agency struggles, today’s clients and prospects can practically smell desperation during a pitch. To make clients hungry to work with agencies again, we have to stop begging and remind ourselves that we are worth the prices we charge. Bad Times, Good Times Many agencies went through hard times in the late 2000s. I can still remember that sinking feeling when I couldn’t save a client or convert a prospect. I always worried I was going to lose a great employee because I wouldn’t have enough money to keep him or her on the payroll. I know you remember it, too. That drop in your stomach when the phone rang, knowing it was a client about to say he’s canceling his contract or she’s closing shop. Those sleepless nights spent wondering which person you would have to lay off if things didn’t pick up soon. I always felt like the next day would be better and business would pick up soon, but I (like many of us) learned how to be afraid. I spent a long time waiting for that better day to come, and only recently did I realize that the new era has already dawned on us -- and we never noticed until now. How Agencies Get Their Swagger Back The first step toward becoming a confident agency again is recognizing that things are much better today than they were seven years ago. That [...]

By |July 19th, 2017|

How to Make Your Company an Irreplaceable Partner in 3 Steps

Your company might think they’re building relationships with clients, but until they sink multiple hooks into an organization, the relationship is volatile. The deeper the connection with your customer, the longer it is likely to last. And, of course, losing existing relationships is costly, considering the second dollar you earn from a client is always more profitable than the first. In fact, the cost of acquiring new customers versus returning customers is six times higher. However, when you delight your clients, meet their needs and cultivate deep relationships, those clients will be happy to pay your prices. Why you need more connections If your sole contact leaves, who else in the company will understand your value? If the old contact wasn’t clearly explaining or documenting it, then your new contact might find it difficult to understand why your company and his should continue a relationship. And if only one person knows you and what you can do, other departments or leaders in the organization might hire someone else to do something you’re perfectly capable of. Additionally, spending time walking the halls of your client’s office could potentially lead to new work. Bumping into people and having conversations can easily lead to, “Can you help me out with this project?” For example, many agencies I work with regularly embed employees in their clients’ offices for a few days a week. That face time creates a depth of service and provides the chance to mine for new opportunities. It’s the ultimate in having multiple relationships. How to get in deeper If you find yourself with a single relationship within a company, the following tips can expand your influence and ensure you’re never left in the dust. 1. Get the [...]

By |July 17th, 2017|

How to Deal with the Nice Guy Client

Most agencies seek out the nice guy client to work with. They’re easygoing and don’t have many criticisms, which bolsters your ego. Plus, they’re often a steady source of income. But the “nice guys” aren’t always the best clients. I’ve seen an agency that thought it was getting along great with a client. The agency assumed the client was happy with the work it produced and began to make expansion plans with pay raises, increased staffing, and larger expenditures based on the assumption that the relationship would be ongoing. However, because the agency didn’t ask for real feedback and the client was silently underwhelmed, the agency was at risk of losing the “nice guy,” who had been shopping for a new agency. In my experience, clients sometimes vent their frustrations elsewhere, such as to their colleagues or their communities. And if a client isn’t being honest with you, the relationship can’t be strong or meaningful, which means you’re at risk every time another agency comes sniffing around. It’s always better for you to hear the criticism, respond, and take action to keep the customer. When you don’t have clear communication between your agency and the client, you put your business at risk. You’ll work more efficiently, the results will be better, and everyone will be happier if you’re communicating well with clients. Sometimes, fickle or difficult clients can be more profitable. They’re looking for specific expertise, and if you offer it, they’ll find you — rather then the other way around. Although these customers are a lot of work, they know what they want and are willing to pay for it. And their bigger budgets mean larger billings, more work and increased margins for you. How to Spot [...]

By |July 3rd, 2017|

7 Ways to Handle Unresponsive Clients

It’s inevitable: at some point, your client will give you the silent treatment. They probably don’t mean to make you blow steam from your ears -- it just happens -- and getting over the communication slump starts with walking a mile in their shoes. It’s important to remember that many companies are understaffed and stretched thin. And even though studies show that burnout is bad for business, we see it happen all the time. While it may be frustrating when you can’t get an answer from your client, it’s usually not the result of ill will or without reason. There’s a good chance your client lives in meetings for most of their days, leaving them with only a small window to take calls and answer emails. An empathic approach to your client relationships -- rather than an angry one -- will be better for both you and your client in the long run. Why Clients Go Dark There are several explanations for why your clients aren’t answering you. It could be as simple as email clutter. Haven’t we all tried to block off calendar time to clean out our inboxes, only to veer off course into this project or that phone call? We’re only human. Experts say you need an entire minute to recover from reading a single email. And at bare minimum, you’d need three hours a day dedicated only to reading and sending emails if you were to stay completely caught up on your inbox. Your client might not have the bandwidth to sift through their inbox every day. They could also be waiting on another department or team member to weigh in before they get back to you, and they just don’t [...]

By |June 30th, 2017|

The Fine Line Between Value-adds and Over-servicing Clients

One of the best compliments my agency ever received came from a client who said he never felt like we had our hand in his pocket. We were putting his interests ahead of our own, and that is usually the best way to build trust. Yet, as good as that comment made me feel, it wasn’t enough. Sure, it indicated we were satisfying our client, but if over-serviced clients are satisfied with your work, you may be in trouble. Clients don’t want to be “satisfied” with their marketing agencies. They want to be wowed. And that means they want to be over-serviced. But there’s a danger there, too. Offer too much, and you could be hurting your agency’s future. The Over-servicing Clients Tipping Point You need to over-deliver, but you and your employees should also remember you’re not running a charity. If over-servicing starts to eat through your profitability, you have a problem. It starts with your account executives. One of the most dangerous habits for any AE to develop is to think of themselves as a customer service rep rather than a business growth specialist. When that attitude spreads to the whole agency, you’ll start to see: Unrealistic expectations from your clients. If you always over-service a client, the marginal value of that effort will diminish. The client will become overly demanding and expect you to keep upping the ante, possibly expecting you to deliver work even faster, or at a significantly reduced cost. And those favors could hit your business hard. Low (or no) profitability. An agency client of mine worked with the same large client for years. They never modified their agreement, and after a few years, the agency was working for $40 an hour when most agencies were charging $150 an hour. The team was [...]

By |June 28th, 2017|

Do You Want More Clients? Guide Them to the Right Answer.

Today's post is a guest article by David J. P. Fisher. When thinking about how to sell their services, most agency owners think that they either have to pound relentlessly or wait patiently.  Either they send out tons of emails, make lots of calls, and attend every networking event in their area in an attempt to find business, or they "work by word of mouth" and take a passive approach, hoping that an existing client will email with a hot lead for them. And in both cases, they find themselves struggling. These days the sales process has changed.  Access to content online has put most of the buying process firmly in the hands of prospects and clients.  Information asymmetry, where sellers had more access than their prospects to insight and information, is a thing of the past.  If a potential client can get all the facts and figures they need from a 30-second Google search, why do they need you? If an agency owner relies on handing out information to “build value” for their customers, they will be in the passing lane on the road to obsolescence. As it is, people don't have the attention to spare to digest the information they have already.  It's hard for them to separate the useful facts from the overwhelming background noise. This "information overwhelm" opens up an opportunity.  Because there's more complexity, prospects have lots of information, but don't necessarily know how to translate that information into something that's usable and actionable. But you do. What customers are looking for more than ever is someone who can guide their decision-making.  Someone who can help them digest and navigate the overwhelming amount of data they have.  They need someone that they [...]

By |June 1st, 2017|

How to Utilize Innovation Initiatives to Inspire Your Clients and Your Team with Kris Hoet

In the research that AMI does every year, one of the things we hear is that clients are looking for agencies that can bring them fresh concepts, big ideas and innovative solutions. So, what do these kinds of innovation initiatives look like and how do agency owners inspire that kind of thinking inside their shop? My podcast guest Kris Hoet owns the international agency Happiness and is a master of innovation. He loves the idea of messy experimentation and really collaborating with clients on projects rather than following the same old templates over and over again. He’s been on both the client side and the agency side and sees how much good can come when you infuse your agency with collaborative, out of the box thinking.   Come along as Kris and I lay out a plan to help you inspire your team for this kind of action by learning:    Why Kris made the jump to the agency side — and why he started his own agency Innovation initiatives and driving change in every aspect of a company Why small changes across a company are better than one big change Getting ideas for change from other industries Some feeds that Kris follows to get inspiration Finding the time to focus on innovation and learning for learning’s sake while also running a client-driven profitable business Why everybody needs to be involved in an initiative Working in a messy way with these innovation initiatives and why that demands more trust between agency and client Why you can do this with your employees you have (if they’re actual good employees) How to inspire your team to want to innovate How to get innovation started Kris Hoet has [...]

By |November 18th, 2016|

What Clients Really Want from the Agencies they Hire with Chantell Glenville

Clients rarely fire an agency over something big. It’s actually a build up of little things that erode trust and begin to wear on the relationship. Over time, the relationship is so damaged, no one inside the client organization is willing to fight to keep you. Are your account service teams focusing on the little things, the details, the things that can make it easier to work with you rather than more difficult?   My podcast guest, Chantell Glenville has been on both sides of the agency/client coin and can tell you without a doubt that it is the little things that drive clients nuts and lead to them beginning to shop around for another agency. Listen in on my conversation with Chantell as we make sure you’re doing everything you can to build relationships that last. Here are some of the things we cover: Things agencies do over and over that drive clients crazy The small behaviors that break apart relationships What agencies don’t know about the world clients live in The complexity of the structure of clients’ systems How agencies can help clients manage the revision process Why you need to know more than one person inside your client’s company (and get to know them face-to-face) The working hour differences between agencies and clients Why you should never overpromise and underdeliver The two things that create great agency-client relationships Why attention to detail is so important for agencies How to get to the top of a client’s to-do list Reasons clients will fire agencies (and why they never want to do that) Things agency owners can do right now to help their account executives improve agency-client relationships Chantell Glenville is the author of [...]

By |September 9th, 2016|