With 17 years of consulting experience and over 30 years of marketing, sales and revenue generation experience I think I can speak in an educated way about what it takes to get clients results.
Is it responsiveness? Yes. Is it solid communication? Yes. Is it expertise around technology? Yes. But the number one reason clients fire you is because they did NOT get the results they expected.
Regardless of whether they had a hand in the failure, it is your fault, 100% of the time.
If you want to grow your agency. If you want to keep more clients for a longer time. If you want to make more money, then you’re going to have to become an expert at setting expectations and then delivering on those expectations month over month.
Here’s how we’ve operationalized this at Square 2.
Set Expectations Early and Often
I’ve written about this important step many times. This expectation setting starts in the sales process. You’re going to meet plenty of people who have unrealistic expectations. They want to go from $1 million to $100 million in 12 months with a marketing budget of $1,000 a month. Just run from these. Don’t even bother to try and reset their expectations unless they are apologetic for their inexperience.
You have to help them understand the relationship between what they invest and the results they expect both in terms of time and business outcomes.
Whatever is discussed in the sales process has to be discussed again in the Kickoff meeting. People forget what was discussed in the sales process. Often people hear it differently. Worse, there are usually new people who show up for the kickoff who were not part of the sales conversation and are bringing their own expectations. Sometimes this is the CEO.
It’s critical to reset expectations at the start of the engagement regardless of how many times this was discussed during your sales process.
Get Their Agreement on Results
There are going to be very specific constraints in every engagement. One of the most typical is budget, but time and resources on the client side are also constraints. When they start sharing their expectations keep these other constraints in mind.
Ultimately, you have to come to an agreement on exactly what "results" means. For some people, it’s the delivery of stuff like a website, content or email campaign. For other people results means leads and for the third set of people, results mean revenue and new customers.
If you have a client with a 12-month sales cycle and they’re not going to hire you to work with sales, there is very little you can do to impact their revenue numbers. Even if you generate 1,000 leads, there is no assurances that their sales team can close even one of them while you’re engaged with this client.
Those challenges and those hard realities need to be discussed during the sales process and again at kickoff.
This dance we do with clients continues well into the engagement. Just because you agree on results at the kickoff doesn’t give you a guaranteed successful engagement. Your engagement is going to change continually, and your client is going to change their minds continually. You have to regularly reassert yourself and get a revised agreement around results every time those changes come down.
In our case, this is every 90 days, but in some cases, it's every 30 days. Get the client to review this in writing. Get them to sign off on it. Keep it on file and refer to it. Clients, as much as we love them, have selective memories at times.
Your systems, processes, and methodologies have to be designed to deliver a positive and successful engagement despite the client’s behavior, attitude or work style.
Design the Initial Program
Program recommendations are not a one and done exercise. You’re going to have to design program recommendations every 90 days and then execute on those plans in 30-day chunks. At least that’s what we’ve found most efficient.
You need to be clear and have an agreement around results before you can design any program recommendations. That’s why agreement comes first, then the strategy and program design, then execution planning.
There are going to be some parts of the program that happen once and some that happen every month. Make sure you get paid for those ongoing tasks and make sure the client understands the relationship between results and those ongoing tasks.
I’ve had agency owners express frustration and challenges around communicating to clients why some campaign work stretches over months.
Clients don’t have experience running agencies or even executing successful campaigns so help them understand all the details of your work. Not only what you are doing but why and how you’re doing it. The better you educate them the better clients they’ll be.
Use Technology to Uncover Insights and Recommendations
It’s extremely challenging to have to manage between five and 12 clients at a time. Everything I talked about above is multiplied by the number of clients. Ten planning meetings every quarter, ten progress reports each month, ten weekly status update emails, ten conversations about expectations, and ten
30-day Sprint planning meetings each month. This alone is a ton of work.
Now pile on top of that what we expect from our client services team members. Those items above are only the administrative part of the job. The real job is to tell the client what they need to do to generate leads, sales opportunities, and more new clients.
How can they be intimate with the data from all 10 clients who are all running different engagements at different levels, at different stages of execution and with different experience levels? It’s a massive job that is filled with places to mess up.
How can they keep up with all these client programs? Daily review of analytics? Is that reasonable? Weekly review of analytics? Is that enough?
Probably not, but that’s not even the issue. Do your consultants have enough experience to know what the data is telling them? How many years have they been a consultant? How many companies have they worked for before yours? How many different industries have they spent time in?
In almost every situation, consultants at agencies are not experienced enough to know exactly what to do and when to do it.
How valuable would it be for you to have an analyst constantly monitoring ALL your client data and providing your team a steady stream of insights and recommendations that they can act on? Would it be worth $100 a month per client? Would it be worth $200 a month per client? How about $500 a month per client?
Of course, it would be a no brainer even for $500 a month for a client who was paying you $5000 or more a month to have a ready-to-go set of insights and recommendations based on their HubSpot data. It’s the perfect addition to any team, no matter how experienced or sophisticated.
Even for the smartest team, now they don’t have to spend anytime reviewing the dashboards or reports, just sifting through the recommendations and including them in the action plan for clients. This benefit alone frees consultants up to take more clients or provide more personal interactions with their existing clients.
Both help you make more money and grow faster.
This type of support is here. MAXG is the answer. MAXG has four very specific use cases.
MAXG helps you quickly identify areas of opportunity in the sales process.
MAXG helps you quickly and efficiently plan out client engagements based on data analytics, not gut hunches and takes no time from your consultants.
If you do a fair amount of audits, MAXG is perfect for quickly running diagnostics and uncovering issues that need your attention.
Finally, MAXG helps you uncover quick wins for new clients who are looking for you to make your mark early and establish their trust.
MAXG is available to agencies and today is the final day for the special introductory price for agencies. Tomorrow the price goes up from $49.99 for up to five client sites to $99.99 for up to 10 client sites.
Both plans include a free MAXG subscription for your own agency. But if you only have a couple of clients or only want to try MAXG out for one or two clients now is the time to act.
MAXG is getting smarter and providing more and more insights and recommendations to agency and corporate clients alike. Today MAXG is looking at over 500 website properties each month and has yet to lose a single client. Now is the time to add MAXG to your agency tech stack.
Start Today Tip – It’s hard to know what to do and when to do it when it comes to client engagements. It’s hard to train new consultants in the fine art of uncovering insights and providing clients recommendations but its even harder to lose clients because they didn’t see results fast enough. You have to battle proof your agency with systems, processes, training, and technology that equips your team with the tools, materials, and training so they DO get clients results. Once you stop losing clients over performance, your agency is going to grow by leaps and bounds.
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