This article is the third in what is becoming an ongoing series about how to achieve healthy client-agency relationships. Previously, I've talked about the broken promises agencies make to brands. From the opposite perspective, I more recently discussed the signs it's time to fire your client. Following up on that theme, if you find yourself facing no reasonable alternative than to break up with your client, then you'll need to replace that lost revenue stream with a new client. Take some time to think about what went wrong with the last relationship, and learn from your mistakes.
Let's face it: No one wants to fire a client. For one, who needs the stress? And secondly, any time an agency/client relationship gets to that point, countless resources have been wasted.
So how can you avoid these uncomfortable and unproductive situations? Well, a little clarity up front can go a long way. So before you race to get that contract signed, sit down and discuss the following with your (hopefully) new client.
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Great questions! We also suggest that you ask about timing and what we call the budget question. Our approach is to start by asking, "In round numbers how much are you planning on spending to get this done?” Now wait until the client responds. The client has two options. Option #1 is to ask you back how much it will cost, and the agency person needs to move towards suggesting a budget range by discussion first the job specs and then by picking a high number to test the waters. Option #2. If the client gives you a number, your account staff should be trained to immediately say, "And as much as….?” Handled correctly you can find the correct dollar range and then offer solutions that best fit their needs, timing AND budget. I see firms all too often rolling in with great ideas, only to discover the prospect has no money. Wasting agency time, money and left feeling used.
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