Another work notebooks of mine was finished off over the weekend. It is full of pages that capture of the progress our business over the last 8 months. However, the back pages are reserved for something a little different. There I keep a log of advice I intend to heed in the future. This month, I’ve gone through the account management notes and captured the top 15 pointers below:
'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.
Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
- Treat your client as your best new business prospect. It worked for Ogliv…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.
- 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.
- Get agreement on strategy. Before you get into specifics hash out the strategy. Who are you trying to reach, what is it about this target audience you should know? Do your homework and think about what it is you are trying to accomplish for you client. Put in writing. This will provide a basis on how to manage a relationship when you don’t always agree because you won’t always agree.
- Build bridges at multiple levels. Make it a goal to meet everyone in management and establish an authentic relationship with them. Otherwise, when one person on either side of the relationship changes, the whole relationship with the company could change. (it’s common for companies move buyers around to bring in someone fresh and to lessen the chance for decisions to be made because of relationships and not on facts). So you must go beyond the role of the buyer to their supervisor, executives, and junior people. Take the time to talk to them and look for opportunities to meet with them.
- Give additional value to your clients. You cannot just focus on your product or company when you meet with client personnel. You must bring value that goes beyond who you represent. This could include trends in the industry, public news about their competition, etc. Look for ways to provide more value. Can you provide an expert in an area? Do so on a complementary basis. Reward your loyal clients with first access to a new product or service. Do you need a place to test new software, product or service? Offer partnerships to loyal customers and give them the product at a reduced price. Continue to look for ways to provide value, and your influence at your account grows.
- Attend the events! Do not miss an event. If you cannot attend, send someone to take your place, someone at a higher level in your company if you can. You must be there and take advantage of these events to grow relationships. Does it take time from the family? Yes it does, so you will have to find a balance.
- Communicate! Clients need to know that they will be informed and kept up to date
- Deal with issues not people. When you have problem with somebody do not comment on people - deal with issues. Focus on the issue, not the people.
- Be positive. Let that be your snowball effect.
- Make friends with your clients. It’s very hard to fire a friend.
How to be a Rock Star for Your Team
- Be Prepared. Dealing with multiple projects, accounts, stakeholders and unforeseen issues is to be expected in your daily workload. Things will happen fast and you need to have the ability to think ahead. Be organized and keep lists (an online with a task management system will make your life much easier!) Be prepared.
- Pay attention to every detail. Account managers must have exceptional knowledge about their clients and a project to be able to switch between multiple projects and communicate knowledgably with various agencies takes a great deal of skill and attention to detail. Being the client’s main point of contact, nothing should go to them without having been seen by three pairs of eyes, one of those being yours. You should be regularly checking file names, folders, and documents for formatting, and if there's anything they work on independently you should be casting an eye over this too. A document should never be disappointing to a client if you have checked it thoroughly first.
- Personal leadership of your team. In some ways, it is just as important to foster these relationships as your clients. Your team needs to be able to trust your decisions and embrace them as their own. Having personable qualities that get people to accomplish tasks is crucial. This will probably involve spending time to check in with them individually. Each person may have different needs, but at the end of the day all of them need you to stay cool, calm and collected when things get bumpy. Be their rock. And if they do something wrong tell them - in private. Explain the problem, look for them to recognize the issue and then work together to make sure it doesn't happen again. Genuine enthusiasm and the ability to share clear vision and goals are important as you lead your team.
- Passion. There will inevitably be down days, when nothing seems to be going right and clients are on at you for one thing or another. This is when as an account manager, we need to dig deep and remember why we love what we do.
- Do what you say you’re going to do. If you tell anyone you are going to do something, DO IT!
There may be other aspects of account management left out of these quick tips, but these points are basic and necessary. In summary, there are two main areas of focus; growing relationships and growing your value to the client.