Don’t leave account growth to chance, there is a better approach
We’re launching a fresh guide for agencies in a few days, where I discuss my suggested method of agency growth. The emphasis is very much indeed on ‘planned’. To the stage where I mentioned that you ought to drop the phrase ‘organic growth’ that is often utilized by agencies to spell it out how they’ll grab new work from existing clients.
That’s because ‘organic’ means that work will come in by chance or via lucky conversations and serendipity. It doesn’t. Account growth shouldn’t be left to chance; you will need you to definitely lead the conversations that themselves result in the up-selling or cross-selling of new services.
Which is where account handlers can be found in and the focus of the post. We’ve talked previously about how important great account handlers are to an agency, for a variety of reasons. To my mind, the principal focus of the account handler isn’t to become a ‘bag carrier’ of creative work or even to micromanage jobs (straying too much into project management) but to spotlight creating a great client relationship built on having a demonstrable strategic input on the account.
That viewpoint chimes having an opinion piece in the Drum, which argues that nothing significantly less than exceptional account handling is necessary in today’s agency. Although written in 2014 it still stands true and I still see some agencies dismissing the role of account handler and jeopardizing their growth plans in doing this.
I know from conversations with creative start-ups and/or competent tech agencies that it’s tempting to eschew the account handler, towards attracting another design or coder. But I believe in case you are serious about maintaining your clients and expanding everything you do for them, you will need client services/account handling folk with good strategic heads.
So, what can you search for in an excellent account handler? They must be excellent across several areas (start to see the article link above) but specifically in:
- Communication: That’s both verbal and written. Sufficient reason for both clients and in-house teams. Communication covers briefing, presenting (results, strategies, creative work, content plans and much more), writing proposals talking (not only sending emails) to your client. Active listening and the capability to establish rapport (with clients and agency associates) are essential too. But account handlers aren’t passive ‘buffers’, separating client and agency specialist teams and passing messages back and forth. Clients can often be better served at key stages in a project with some direct collaboration between them and the agency creative or tech teams who focus on their account. However the best account handlers stick to top of this and steer both parties for mutual benefit.
- Strategy development: Which means understanding online marketing strategy frameworks (including the RACE framework) along with thinking strategically to devise campaigns (alongside colleagues) and help your client build their brand/business. Great account handlers may also be more comfortable with analytical thinking and so are curious, asking questions of any plan or campaign: before, after and during its inception.
- Developing account handlers: Some account handlers have an all natural flair for account growth and the ones two attributes above are ‘innate’ inside them. But those attributes and skills may also be taught.
I believe sometimes we (the agency world) throw our new account handlers in at the deep end without the training in things such as (in no particular order) strategic thinking, account planning, negotiation and sales, pricing projects, presentation skills and methods to account growth (hence our guide).
If you’re a merchant account handler (especially not used to your job), or you manage a team of account handlers – here are a few training providers or resources you can look into. A few of the course dates could have moved on nevertheless, you contact the business involved to join up fascination with future events.
Finally – beyond courses also to make sure your account handlers continue steadily to veer more towards a strategic instead of tactical, mindset – keep these things read books, attend seminars, pay attention to podcasts and generally stay prior to the field.