Agencies need to stop hiring “nice”

One of my pet peeves is the hiring practices of agencies -- we need to stop hiring "nice". Earlier this month, we kicked off a conversation about why agencies find themselves relegated to vendor status. If you remember, we identified 3 causes. The economy — workforce reductions, budget cuts and overall fear (out of your control) Agencies willingness to behave like a vendor just to get the project (within your control) Agencies hiring “nice” account executives who are order takers rather than smart business people (within your control) In this post, we'll tackle the hiring "nice" issue that many agency owners and Directors of Client Services seem to struggle with.  Every agency owner worries about how solid their client relationships are and who is tending to those clients.  We want clients to feel like they're the agency's only focus.   As a result, we've often hired people who are relationship nurturers and good at customer service delivery.  There's nothing wrong with those traits.  But they don't match up with what clients tell us they want. In our AE Bootcamp workshops, we teach AEs what their clients expect from them.  Here's what our research revealed clients want in an AE: Knows the client’s industry and markets Makes their job easier Is organized and dependable Is empowered to make decisions Demonstrates a passion for solving problems Is willing to be treated as a consultant and a vendor Is not learning on the job I don't see nice, friendly or even a good relationship builder on that list.  It doesn't mean those traits don't matter.  It means those traits are tables stakes -- the givens.  Clients think of those as a "duh" not a point of difference.  What they're [...]