Clients come in all different shapes and sizes across all verticals and industries. While each one comes with their own unique personality and style of doing business, there are certain faux pas that every account manager should absolutely avoid. These mistakes can cost even the most seasoned account manager a client’s business and a large chunk of revenue for their agency.
Do Communicate Effectively
This one seems obvious, but there are plenty of different nuances to it. It’s safe to say that if you’re an account manager, you already possess great interpersonal communication skills. However, that also means you need to know when and how to follow up with clients. Too much lag time between communications is a big NO – A quiet client is never a good thing. Even when things are running smoothly, always keep your finger on the pulse of what your client wants, needs and gripes. Not to mention, with so many moving pieces to any engagement, if you aren’t regularly speaking to your client, chances are things are falling through the cracks. Regular communication also helps build trust with a client and lets them know that they are valuable to your agency.
Another critical part of effectively communicating is paying attention. Make sure you’re interpreting what your clients are asking for correctly – this is instrumental in avoiding missed opportunities and unmet expectations. Going back to a client with information or recommendations they’ve clearly communicated against will make you look like a hungry and inattentive sales guy rather than a useful relationship manager. In other words, you’ll soon be on the fast track to losing your client.
Aside from being able to listen and interpret your client’s needs, effective note taking pulls the picture together. Meeting notes never need to be over complicated, but should show who attended the meeting, key points made by the client, and all action items for yourself and the client. Never assume that the client will remember their takeaways from a meeting. Remember folks, notes aren’t just for you and your team, they’re for your clients too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to follow up with clients on an ask that was discussed during a meeting only to find out that they had no recollection of committing to the task. There is a bevy of note taking tools out there to help you get the job done. Whether it’s the ‘create a post’ feature in Slack that lets you share all meeting notes with your team so everyone’s in the loop,
Or, you can always stick to the basics and use a pen and notepad!
Don’t be the Overly Attached Girlfriend
While consistently staying in the loop and keeping lines of communication open is critical, there is such a thing as too much communication. You never want to hound the client with asks and feedback. You’re there to make their lives easier and facilitate a seamless campaign. By continuously reaching out to them, you appear incompetent and not suited to manage their account. Don’t be the overly attached girlfriend or boyfriend. Use your best judgment and only reach out to the client when it is crucial in decision making. Otherwise, if it’s not urgent, save it for your scheduled status meeting.
There is no recommended tool to help you out with this aside from just simple common sense! Exercise your best judgment and make sure know your client’s expectations of how often they want a check in from you. Lay a strong foundation for the campaign by determining the cadence for communication in the kickoff call and make sure the client is aware of what the project plan is and when they can expect deliverables to be sent over.
Don’t Be Too Salesy
They’ve already opted in for your services and you should focus on building the trust with the client by providing quality work and making sure you are speaking to their specific business needs. While there are always opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, you should never be too pushy about it. Try to relate the up or cross sell to how it would help their business, and show them that you care about their interests. BE GENUINE! Most clients have been in their respective industry for a while and have had plenty of experience dealing with other agencies in the past. They can see right through a pushy sales guy routine with no substance. Wait for the right time in the engagement to start talking about upsells. Don’t try to interject a selling opportunity into the conversation every chance you get.
Also, always tailor your sells specifically to each individual client and make a targeted business case for why they should renew with you by providing concrete data about performance. Identify the right KPI’s that your client cares about and ultimately relate them back to their bottom line. Always link these metrics back to revenue numbers if you can. Sure, bounce rate, time on page, site traffic, and conversion goals are great, but if you can’t tell the full story of how they tie into revenue, they’re not of much value to your client. Remember, sniper shots, not shotgun blasts. You’ll not only show the value of your agency to them, but you’ll increase your chances of a renewal tenfold.
Any CRM tool can help you manage your sales opportunities. I personally like the Hubspot tool. It helps you stay on top of where you are in the sales funnel with the opportunity, tracks dates, and sets reminders on when to reach out. Staying organized and making sure you are effectively managing your prospects ensures that you are having the right conversations at the right time.
Do Think Ahead
You as the account manager are being trusted with a client’s business goals and that means you need to constantly think ahead about what role you play in helping them achieve their targets. Part of this is understanding the business that they’re in and being cognizant of market trends. Do you have an e-commerce client? Then you should know that preparation for their busiest season starts in the fall right before the holidays. Make sure you play a role in helping to develop a strategy for them that speaks to that and helps them hit goals during that time.
There are plenty of resources that can help any account manager stay on top of their client’s industry trends. I like to read subreddits for the given industry my client is in to get a firsthand look at what others in that industry are saying about upcoming developments to look out for. Simply type the relevant keywords into the “what are you interested in?” box and find the appropriate subreddit to keep you informed on that client’s vertical. Setup Google alerts for each of your clients so you’re the first to know about what’s going on in their world. Other ways to do this can be as simple as observing competitors or reading trade journals and consumer magazines.
Don’t Overpromise & Underdeliver
This is straightforward, but not managing a client’s expectations properly can lose you business and severely tarnish your agency’s reputation. When an engagement initially begins, any account manager wants to look good in the eyes of the client by promising the moon. Don’t. Effective project management, open communication, and level setting will ensure that you deliver what’s promised in scope on time. If your team is going to miss a deadline, make sure you let the client know as far ahead as possible. No one is perfect and deadlines can be missed – proper communication is key in softening the blow of a missed deadline. As the first line of defense between the client and the production team, it is up to you to know what resources are available and how to prioritize asks. If a client is asking for too much, too soon, it is up to you to put your foot down and let them know that they need to adjust their expectations. If you aren’t consistently level setting, you run the risk of constantly disappointing a client. Needless to say, that doesn’t bode well for a long-term, client-agency relationship.
As I already mentioned, this boils down to proper project management. Any team working together in any vertical or industry needs a proper project management tool to ensure that the group is working like a well-oiled machine. Here at iPullRank, we use Teamwork Projects. It provides complete transparency into all projects and has many features that allow users to get a clear picture of resource allocation, ensuring that deadlines are met.
Relationship management isn’t rocket science but requires the right combination of common sense and finesse. Always set the expectation with your clients from the get go and remember to keep the channels of communication open. Keep in mind what your client’s ultimate business goal was when they began the engagement and make sure to stay on that course as much as possible. Exercise good judgment, use the tools mentioned above to stay organized, and set yourself up for a successful campaign and a satisfied client.