Agency culture has always been client centric. But before the pandemic, there were clear lines between work and home. Agency employees would commute to the office, meet with clients, tackle their tasks, and then head home. After many agencies adopted work-from-home policies, however, employees had to field client calls around the clock.
Now, agency leaders recognize that this pattern isn't sustainable. Without boundaries between client time and personal time, employees are becoming burned out. To solve this problem, agency leaders can't just recommend employees stop checking their emails after 5 p.m. Rather, leaders must stop overpromising and underdelivering. They must establish boundaries from the start and only take on clients willing to honor those boundaries.
While agencies should prioritize customer service, it's time for leaders to recognize when a client isn't a good fit. This approach doesn't cast clients as enemies — it places an emphasis on forming long-term partnerships. By turning down or letting go of clients with mismatched expectations, agency leaders can foster a better work-life balance, protect employees from burnout, and avoid losing money on clients that will ultimately leave. While it seems a bit harsh, being more selective about clients is a win-win-win solution for agencies, employees, and clients.
There are ways to determine whether or not a client is a good fit for an agency. It's important for agency leaders to recognize warning signs early on in the partnership to avoid bigger issues down the road. Here are a few strategies leaders can use to find better client matches:
Set clear measurements of success.
Clients expect a lot from agencies, so it’s important to set clear measurements of success from the start. If clients aren't on the same page, then agency leaders run the risk of wasting time and energy. Create “North Star” metrics to establish the primary outcome metrics that measure the success of the multichannel marketing strategy. Define key performance indicators as inputs that fuel the North Star metrics. By doing this, agencies can better demonstrate their value and focus on attaining success. According to research, 97% of agencies say setting goals for a specific KPI leads to an improvement in it.
Create a lead scoring system.
Answering requests for proposal is a great way for agencies to find new clients. However, RFPs limit how many conversations are had, meaning agencies are more likely to encounter clients that are poor fits. For example, clients may be looking for the vendor with the lowest cost, which means they aren't considering important aspects of the partnership. Instead, leaders should create a lead scoring system to screen clients more effectively before investing time in the partnership.
Ask current clients and other professionals for lead introductions.
Sometimes, finding the right clients requires knowing the right people. If an agency leader knows someone with a lot of connections, they can reach out and ask whether that person can introduce them to a potential lead. After all, research shows that 74% of sales professionals feel that personal introductions provide the best leads. If agencies can impress the people their connection introduced them to, then they'll be more likely to receive more introductions down the road.
In a post-pandemic world with varying levels of economic uncertainty, agencies may feel the need to take on every client who walks through the metaphorical front door. However, this approach sets up agencies (and their clients) for failure. Being selective and setting clear expectations in contracts ensures that agencies enter into collaborative, functional relationships with clients from the start, thus improving performance and outcomes.