This is a tricky one for all account handlers – whether it’s your first major account or whether you’ve been running business for years.
Everyone has opinion. And you want to hear everyone’s opinion – especially your clients. You’ll also be tempted to put yours in the mixer too. And you should.
But before you do – get a grip of the facts. Not the ego’s, the personalities, the dyanamic in the situation – these are all important lenses through which to see the problem (and can catalyze the process) but first you need to establish the real issue.
The account team is duty bound to be an expert source on the business – not just of opinions but of facts.
These facts need to be on the table first. It’ll save you a lot of wasted time getting lost in – well ‘I think this’ or ‘I think that’.
Any start up phase should always start with ‘well, what do we know’.
Better still if you can quantify what you know. About the competitors, the customers, the market, the client business plan, the obstacles – whatever.
Everyone will have opinions.
But wth the facts established at least you’ll have an informed one.
Any planner on your account team is unlikely to develop a killer insight out of thin air.
It won’t stand up to client scrutiny if it’s just ‘a hunch’.
Tactics of leadership are easy. But setting the conditions that enable the team to dig, establish, dig, establish will take some clear expectation setting with clients. This ‘golden window’ is a crucial time that lets the work group establish the real issues. And it’s here that we need to frame up what we know, establish facts, consider what we don’t know, dig, polish, dig, polish, look at different angles – all the while continually managing client expectations.
The 99% hard work that leads to the 1% magic is often found in this shared commitment to establish the facts. Even better if clients are partners through this phase.
But we all know that it can get tense. Particularly when we’re dealing with practicalities of time/budget/quality.
Time is the ‘wolf’ that needs keeping from the door. Personalities & conflict will emerge.
But this is where smart leaders need to convert conflict into breakthroughs.
The culture of the team should naturally want betterment. And discussion. And this can create conflict. But this conflict can push you higher.
If the conditions are well managed then this ‘golden window’ will not only help you establish the facts – but catalyze the personalities into a real debate with informed opinions.
And this means we’ll fight about the work together. And fight for it with clients.
All the while improving the quality of the work.
And that’s what it’s all about – right?