Every spring, I put together a list of trends that I think agency owners need to be tracking. I present this content at the spring meetings of the AMI owner peer groups and then later in the summer/fall, I share the trends with my podcast audience (2019 part one and two). I just finished the deck last week and presented it for the first time today. One of the trends that we talked about that has really gathered steam is the idea of embedding an agency employee into the client’s work environment. Many agencies initially offered it to keep a client from taking work in-house but what they’ve discovered is that it’s an amazing biz dev strategy. Remember that 60-70% of your new business goal should come from existing clients and this is a smart way to trigger some of that growth. I don’t have one agency in my world that has an embedded employee that isn’t reporting client growth, new opportunities with other divisions within the company and a strengthening of the relationship. It’s definitely a winning strategy for the agencies that have implemented it.
Now that I’ve had a year of studying it from afar, I have some thoughts on best practices around this growing trend. It is not without its pitfalls, if you make some wrong turns.
- This is a premium product — having your AE on site in their environment so price it accordingly.
- Think long and hard about who you choose to embed. It’s easy for them to begin to feel more like your client’s employee than the agency’s employee. You want someone who is very committed to the agency’s success.
- Do you allow them to work onsite at the client’s office more than 3.5 days a week. You need them to spend time back at the agency, staying connected to the team and being reminded where they actually work.
- Have a very well-written non-compete and non-solicitation clause in your contract with the client so they cannot woe your employee away.
- Have a very well-written non-solicitation, no stealing clients clause in your contract with the employee so they can’t branch out on their own or offer themselves to another agency with the promise of delivering your client in the deal.
There is a lot of upside to this idea but be mindful of the risks and protect yourself accordingly. I am seeing agencies of all sizes, in both the B2C and B2B space, offering this to clients. It’s not going away anytime soon so you should probably decide how you feel about it and if it might make sense for your shop!
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