Client Checkups: Benchmark Behind the Scenes

December 8, 2016 | Reed Clarke | No Comments |

Client Checkups are For Your Health, Too

We’ve talked in this space before; about the telltale signs that a client is about to break up with you. And like any relationship, the key to either turning it around or making sure it never sours in the first place, is communication.

Conducting a client checkup can be a powerful tool to reset expectations, deliver something unexpected or simply exchange pleasantries and continue kicking ass. But be careful—there are ways to bungle the checkup that can drive a client crazy and plant them firmly on the “not going to renew” side of the fence.

What have you done for me lately?

First off, don’t make the mistake of scheduling your follow ups exactly 30 days prior to a contract renewal. If that’s the only contact you’re making with clients to discuss their account with you, they’ll see right through it.

It should never feel like an overt sales pitch. “Why haven’t I heard a peep from these folks since the very first kick-off call when we agreed on the SOW?” is not a question you want your clients asking at renewal crunchtime. Set your team up for success from the very beginning by positioning them as advisers on the account, not just salespeople.

Clients naturally want to go into details about how they’re performing, but don’t always know the right questions to ask. That’s why you need to benchmark everything along the way, even a one-time project. Being able to come back to a client and say, “this is what we’ve done together, this is where you’re at, and this is what we think is next” is you providing unexpected value.

Clients often go into these checkups expecting to be sold to, but that’s not the role your consultants need to (or are able to) play. Clients would rather talk about performance, and these conversations will only strengthen the trust they’ll have with you managing their project.

Get creative!

Another way to give a client something unexpected to chew on? Get your creative team involved! Let’s be honest, there are times when accounts and hours are slower. This is where you can provide extra value to the client by doing an account review to see what needs to be updated or if your creative team can add value to the account in out of the box ways.

Again, use the element of surprise to your advantage. Take the initiative to say, “X isn’t working,” and deliver your expertise without your client asking for it. Because, truthfully, if clients were being forthright and felt like they could, they would ask for that level of engagement throughout the process.

It’s easy to say treat every client like they were your only client. When you run a scalable agency, that’s just not possible—you feel like you have to live and die by the SOW. However, developing an internal system of checks and balances will help your consultants see a little more of the big picture, and give your sales team more knowledge of the engagement so they can offer assistance. You can do this tactically by documenting outcomes that will shed light on business goals and make speaking your client’s language easier.

Run a health check!

You can’t put your people in a room to go over the history of a customer before every quarterly business review. That’s why you want to design systems that are low-friction and have built-in processes that are 95% reusable every time you run a client health check. This allows you to keep modification time to a minimum and still get max value in return.

So who’s responsible for making sure your salespeople are running these checks? That’s a matter of how you’ve designed your compensation plan. The best ones make it hurt from the top-down if an account leaves, so your directors and even CEO-level folks should be reading the burndown reports to see who’s green, who’s yellow and who’s red in terms of renewals. Everyone should have something at stake so that meeting client goals is tied closely with the success of the agency.

Don’t wait until the eleventh hour to come at your client with a contract. Do the work behind the scenes so that your team is not only invested, but can efficiently access information that will provide tremendous value to your business relationships.

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