This post identifies goals that account managers, project managers, and project leads can set to improve partnerships with clients in the new year. Of course, this post does not include everything needed to improve relationships with clients, but hopefully it sparks some ideas to put you on the right track in 2019!
Resolution #1: Become an Expert on Your Client’s Business
To prioritize this, set aside one to two hours each quarter to research, review, and keep up on business trends, hot topics, and new opportunities.
Why is This Important?
- This not only influences your own strategy and work but also builds trust with the client.
- It makes it more clear to the client that you know what you’re talking about and are using that knowledge to make informed decisions for the client’s business and industry.
- Your research can influence account decisions, recommendations for new strategies, goals, and upsell opportunities.
- Learning about your client's industry will provide context as to why and how the client makes decisions.
Review the Client’s Content.
Stay up-to-date on their company announcements and changes to show you are paying attention.
- Set time aside to dive deep into their website every quarter.
- Actually read client newsletters and promotional emails.
Do Your Own Research.
Take things into your own hands and research information yourself. Impress the client by asking questions about your findings.
- Spend 30 minutes each quarter researching the industry.
- Set up news alerts about the client or their competitors.
- Review competitor websites and press releases.
Get the Client’s Opinion.
- Start with the annual planning meeting!
- During each monthly call, ask the client about new initiatives taking place.
- Send an agenda and be prepared with thought-starter questions.
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Resolution #2: Reinvigorate Your Relationship
Client relationships can easily fall into a lethargic pattern of boring monthly phone calls and stale emails. Through the action items below, show your client a fresh approach and new and improved relationship in 2019. And remember, listening goes a long way!
Grow Your Relationship with the Main Point of Contact (POC).
- Ask about personal goals and understand their motivations.
- Start during the annual planning meeting! Follow up every so often with genuine check-ins.
- Questions can include:
- How can we make you look good to your boss?
- Are you focused on any individual goals this year?
Remember: if you can figure out how to make your contact look good to their boss, you’ll be invaluable to them.
- Learn about their interests and life outside of work.
- Take time at the beginning of calls to ask what they did over the weekend or about upcoming vacations.
- Be open about yourself, and they will follow.
- Set small, personalized goals to enhance the relationship.
- For example, have a goal to plan 2 happy hours and send 1 handwritten anniversary card this year.
Build Relationships with Key Stakeholders.
This establishes your company’s trust among key decision makers.
- Invite the CEO to monthly meetings or quarterly reports.
- Get insights about the CEO from your POC.
- What does the CEO value -- what is success to them?
- What is his/her communication style?
Bottom line: it’s easier to build a relationship in-person.
- Long Distance Clients
- Ask if they’d like to review the monthly/quarterly report.
- Request budget to travel to the client's office.
- Local Clients
- Present quarterly reports in person.
- Take them out for lunch or happy hour.
- Invite them to the office for a tour!
Resolution #3: Become a GLUE Guru
GLUE: Giving Little Unexpected Extras: a simple yet effective reminder about the importance of building strong relationships.
Send an Anniversary Card.
An easy and inexpensive way to show we value their relationship
- Ask the whole client team and CEOs to sign the card.
- Send the card immediately AFTER the anniversary date.
Provide an Update in between Reports.
Shows that you are keeping the client top of mind, and progressing toward their goals.
- Provide an update to the client every two weeks.
- Show how you are progressing toward KPIs and other initiatives.
- Remember to mention why the information is important and any next steps.
- Set reminders in Calendar or another team collaboration tool (we use Basecamp3) to hold you accountable.
Request Budget for Small Gifts or Social Hours.
Shows that you care with small unexpected perks.
- Make a goal to do this 1x per year, in celebration or just because!
- Happy hours and lunches are a great opportunity to get to know your client on a personal level.
- Cards, bagel delivery, client’s favorite wine, personalized cookies, or our favorite, cake-pops!
Resolution #4: Establish Your Agency as THE Expert.
It sounds like a big task, but by following through with these small action items, the client won’t have time to hesitate about your knowledge or expert opinion in guiding their strategies.
Send Industry Updates.
Share relevant articles or industry updates with clients as they happen:
- Send interesting news and updates to clients that might be relevant.
- Send your company blog posts that are relevant to your client’s business, services, or interests.
- Remember to mention how this news may impact them, and how your team plans to handle it.
Bring in the Reps!
Since we are a digital marketing agency, we utilize our Google Ads partners and relationships to bring additional value to our clients. However, if you are managing clients in traditional advertising, public relations, branding, etc...there is still an opportunity to bring in a valued partner and reputable source to back up your work or support your expertise on a specific topic or initiative.
- Asking agency Google Reps to present to the client makes the client feel important and valued.
- It also presents an opportunity for a reputable source to vet your work and knowledge.
- Presentations can include:
- About Partner Premier Program
- Industry insights
- Competitive insights
Are there other valuable steps or action items that have helped you nurture and grow client relationships in the past? Comment below or Tweet to us at @workshopmktg.