Are you an AD or PM?
Your title might say Account Director, but are you a trusted advisor to your client, who understands their business and challenges their mindset and behaviours? Or are you delivery-focused, managing a project from brief to activation, and, therefore, a Project Manager?
If you are accountable for leading a piece of business or several accounts, now more than ever, you need to be having meaningful conversations with your clients. You need to demonstrate that you not only understand their business challenges but are also focused on providing impactful creative solutions. The success of your agency and your career depends on it!
Here are some hints and tips on building a relationship with your client when face to face meetings are not possible:
Prepare for the call - think about what you're going to say and how you're going to say it. That way you will feel more confident when speaking with your client.
Have one or two interesting points to mention - about the category, a comms channel, or consumer behaviour but make sure it has a clear implication for your client's business.
Have a genuine interest in your client and their business. Ask how they are feeling about things, what they are currently working on outside of your brief, and what is giving the most amount of stress.
Listen - I mean really listen. Find a natural 'cue' for when you can ask about their current challenges and what their pain points are.
Pick your moment. Make it feel organic and part of the conversation rather than 'now let’s talk about what else we can help with'.
Open-ended questions will also help achieve that - Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why, or how.
Use your clients' language when you talk about their business and make sure you have a really good understanding of what their objectives and challenges are. If you are not clear, ASK! If you are not sure how to ask, prepare the framing before the call.
Follow up - if the client has opened up and shared their challenges and priorities with you, ensure you follow up with them on it on your next call. Ask them how their sales are tracking, will they hit KPIs, is problem X, still a problem? How can we help? OR, we have been thinking about X, and would it help if we did Y for you? etc.
Remember you are not 'selling'! Show you genuinely care and understand their business and want to help them.
Your clients are stressed - it's been a tough year for them too. FD's are not signing off budgets like they used to and priorities are constantly changing. Be agile and empathetic. Get back to them when you say you will and go above and beyond.
Put in the hard work now, invest in your client, help grow their business. You and your agency will reap the rewards.