Talking to a colleague recently who was thinking about setting up on his own, his main fear was how to ‘get clients.’ It got me thinking. How do I get clients and why am I put forward or recommended to new client’s to pitch?
We’ve all seen the status updates: “85% of your financial success is due to your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. Shockingly, only 15% is due to technology knowledge (Carnegie Institute of Technology)
So it turns out it’s not all about having the ability, but equally, if not arguably more important is the passion and commitment to client service. Here is what I learnt when it comes to looking after clients:
1 Always expect the unexpected. Anticipate what the client wants before they want it. If a client asks a question, start to think about your answer immediately; and try stay ahead to have an answer to the next logical question.
You want to be anticipating your clients every move, every thought process. And don’t say what you think they want to hear either – but be open, honest and prepared to respond with the extra detail – not because they asked, but as it will be helpful information.
2. Spend a client budget as if it was your own. Time is money. Are all of today’s activities important and urgent in accordance with monthly objectives?
Be open with clients – with your planned activities and the time and budget you expect them to take, so you can collectively re-assess or re-allocate as needed. You would want the same transparency if it were you. Once you’re aligned with a client, you are more likely to influence budget increases to add more resource exactly where it’s required.
3. Be a team player. An agency isn’t about ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentally or physically. It is about sitting on the same side as the client and working with them as a team. Drop in and hot desk if the environment is right to do so. Share their passion for the company and its objectives; and impart their excitement if they win an award or seal a big deal.
Remember a business owner could have set the company up from scratch – just look at how passionate Richard Branson remains about Virgin. Maintaining that passion and not treating the client like a client, but as part of the same company, working in partnership, goes a long way.
4. Keep them updated with innovations in PR: Whether it is the latest social media platforms or what is going on in the industry. If nothing else it’s a way to maintain the conversation and show that you are eager to constantly enhance your offering and stay ahead of the game for your client’s benefit, especially in more competitive sectors.
5. Make connections at every level – build a relationship with the company as a whole so that when you come in for meetings, it’s like you work there anyway. And this extends to the sales team on the road and all the admin staff.
Remember, you never know which contacts you might need to get that extra information for a case study quickly. Further, if the management team changes, with the team as a whole you can just ‘keep your head down’ and carry on.
One of my first lessons in PR was to get to know clients personally, so that you can better anticipate and support the needs of the company as a whole. If they are into cricket, football or fishing, see what is going on before you go into a meeting.
These insights have really helped me over the years. If every day we think about how we could be a better partner, then we don’t need to worry about someone else filling that role.
What else might you add to the list?