Within any agency, the purpose of the client services team is to deliver exceptional thinking and insights, exceptional service and exceptional creative and technical work - which will deliver exceptional results.
Day to day, an account manager…
Talks to the client - about everything!
Manages the money - estimates, invoicing and forecasting
Briefs the team and gets the right people involved at the right time
Presents and sells the work, then asks for the next project
Traffics all work through the agency
Represents the client in the agency
Maintains a happy relationship between client and agency
To exist, great people and great ideas need direction, that is the role of effective account management. But what can we do to be better at it?
Think about what keeps our clients awake at night
Their business is our business, and their job is bigger than just us - try and understand what else they do in their day to day role and how we can help make life easier for them. The company is more than just the marketing department - think about what else is going on within other departments. Deeper knowledge of this results in better insights, better work, and makes us a true partner to the client.
Understand the client’s financial levers
Marketing budgets are there to sell products and when sales are down, budgets get cut. Ultimately, the CFO is interested in sales and profit, not the ROI of marketing activity. We need to understand how we can best contribute to it - this might be by increasing profit/sales or reducing the cost per sale. Client services must ensure that they understand the financial goals of the business, and not just the marketing ones.
Get clients to respect you
Clients are not employing a new ‘best friend’ - they want well thought through expert opinion. We always need to do our homework, prepare our thoughts and present them with conviction and honesty.
Always make clients the hero
The better the results the better the client looks. The better the client looks, the better the agency looks. If the opportunity presents itself - enter awards, get them in the press, help them network.
Never say it’s easy, if it’s not
We like to please, and often when asked to perform a difficult task we say ‘no problem’ - but two members of staff might have to work late. Pulling out the stops is the job of the account manager - but the client needs to know exactly what is involved in the job at hand. That way they don’t make it a habit, and they pay a premium.
Be a great salesperson
Selling is not a dirty word - it’s what client services do all day. Great work doesn’t sell itself, and we need to persuade clients that our recommendations are right. Remember to use logic, use conviction and not spin, and to not lower the cost just in order to complete the sale. The sell is not over until the work is live!
Be a great listener
‘Stop writing down what I asked for, and think about what I want’
Clients and colleagues often don’t say what they mean - and we hear what we want, the art of translation is key. Make sure you understand what is being said, and keep asking questions and reframing until you do.
Be a great communicator
Make time to talk to people, rather than always emailing. It’s important to understand people like to communicate in different ways. Sometimes we have to communicate things that are unwelcome, we have to be tenacious to get things done - think about this in advance.
Be a great team player and leader
Client services see the whole picture - from both the agency’s and client’s point of view. We get the best work when we share the goals, vision and relevant info with everyone. Remember good ideas can come from anyone - but this happens more when people feel involved.
Only make promises you can deliver, and deliver on all promises….on time. Never assume something will happen unless you make it happen.
If we do all these things well, client service will be exceptional, the work will be exceptional, the agency will be exceptional, and the results the client gets will be exceptional.