Reflections for better account handling

Spring has sprung but with the first 3months of the year closing in there’s no time like the present to take stock. Coming across a couple of interesting websites this week I’ve summarized into some top tips for better account handling below. Before we get into this I can fully reccomend the excellent Paul Simons & his book day 1 to 2555 available on his website. This charts 7 years in the development of an agency & for a guy that has built some of the most iconic this book is full of great little snippets/quotes. A choice cut below:

Even with founding clients the first 100 days cash flow is a bare-bummed slide on thin ice. There are hours where you get ready to make the speech & call time. But actually, there are lots of ways through it. Finding them is an important creative muscle all of its own. It’s a very liberating experience. Pretty soon you’ll wonder why you ever had it any other way. 

Some other choice nuggets from various posts this week:

1) Select your clients carefully. It’s imperative to know which clients you want to work for. Follow these three guiding principles when making that important decision:

  • Find products or services you believe in .
  • Make sure these are people you want to work with. 
  • They must be people who want you to make a fair profit over time & build sustainable commercial relationships.

If these three things aren’t present, sooner or later you’ll be fired anyway. Create a target list of companies you’d like to work with and develop 10 to 15 clients that would change your company.

2) Treat your client as your best new business prospect. Year after year at Ogilvy & Mather, executives discovered that approximately 60 percent of new business came from either current clients, or through them. A good client will find a way to get you more assignments or pass your services alone to another diversion or company. If you have done a great job they are going to give you more business in more places. The best new business is a job well done on existing business. 

3) Take a proprietary interest in the health of your clients business. Once you’ve decided to work with someone treat their business as your own. Make suggestions and feel free to offer views. We’re paid to have an opinion.

4) Give clients ideas that they didn’t ask for. Show some initiative. Offer one new idea per month. At the end of the year you’ve given the clients at least a dozen ideas they didn’t ask for.  It worked for Ogilvy and will likely work for you.  Your competition probably isn’t doing this.

5) Build bridges at multiple levels. There is danger in limiting your contacts. When one person on either side of the relationship changes, the whole relationship with the company could change. That’s how you lose business. Bonus point: Pay attention to the junior people. Take the trouble to talk to them. Not only will you learn more about the company from a different angle, one day these guys will be the bosses.

6) Listen. Clients really get angry when you don’t listen. Ask questions before offering opinions. Take notes. Put it in writing. But know this: Once you agree to something you absolutely, positively must deliver. You have 2 ears & one mouth. Use them in this proportion.

7) Treat the client’s money as carefully as you would your own.  Put the client’s interest first and take a long term view. You will be rewarded.

8)  This is a golden rule for resolving conflict. Deal with issues not people. Love problems. They are your value/currency to both the agency & the client. When you have problem with somebody do not comment on people – deal with issues. Don’t make it a people issue make it an issue. And solve it.

And finally a guiding principal to do business by: You win new business on creative ideas and lose it on relationships. You lose business because something has changed and the client doesn’t trust you any more to solve their problems. They don’t trust you to fix it. They instead say “we want fresh approach in our creative or say that want a fresh approach for a new product.”

You must continually build and grow business relationships. But much more on this in a separate post. 

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