Dec 16, 2020
The process of communicating with clients can be a tricky one to maneuver even in the best of times. Today’s episode focuses on experiences with new personalities (sometimes bad) entering on the client side. How do you deal with them? What are the guidelines you use? What are some strategies to win people over? How can you create an environment where your team feels supported and encouraged, while dialing down the client gossip that can create a toxic work environment? How can you create the BEST value for your clients, regardless of their lack of planning or insight? Stay tuned!
Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode:
For more tips, discussion, and behind the scenes:
About The Guys:
Bob Hutchins: Founder of BuzzPlant, a digital agency that he ran from from 2000 -2017. He is also the author of 3 books. More on Bob:
Brad Ayres: Founder of Anthem Republic, an award-winning ad agency. Brad’s knowledge has led some of the biggest brands in the world. Originally from Detroit, Brad is an OG in the ad agency world and has the wisdom and scars to prove it. Currently that knowledge is being applied to his boutique agency. More on Brad:
Ken Ott: Co-Founder and Chief Growth Rebel of Metacake, an Ecommerce Growth Team for some of the world’s most influential brands with a mission to Grow Brands That Matter. Ken is also an author, speaker, and was nominated for an Emmy for his acting on the Metacake Youtube Channel (not really). More on Ken:
[2:48] Brad introduces this weeks’ topic- starting with how to deal with a new client or new person that is in communication with a client and doesn’t work well with the team. The process of winning them over can be challenging.
[3:27] Ken talks about how the process can be difficult because the emotional health of people is all over the board to begin with- there can be an attitude of defensiveness from clients when they communicate with agencies because they feel threatened.
[5:17] Brad says that for some companies the idea of having a digital marketing agency come in can be very challenging against what they’ve done in the past- How can you win them over when they come into the relationship with a lot of doubt or baggage?
[7:27] Brad talks about clients who are rude or work in a specific, difficult way. “Number one, that’s not us. They’re not that way because of you. They’re that way to everyone.” There is opportunity to celebrate that person and their role in those difficult situations.
[8:36] Brad says “We’re not here to win the battle, we’re going to win the war… and we’re going to show them that we can be trusted.”
[9:08] Bob brings the convo back around to marketing terms- 2 Tips for dealing with new clients or new situations. #1 Do Your Research- look them up on LinkedIn, pay attention to their work history, their school history, volunteer interests. #2 Listen, Just listen and allow their words and opinions inform the way that you will respond. Allow the connection as a human being to flourish and grow.
[11:29] Brad shares that having empathy for customers and clients is key- get to know them and figure out what their superpower is within that relationship.
[12:13] Bob asks about Ken and Metacake’s client relationship management- do other people than Bob Strachan (Ken’s business partner) get involved in new client relationships or do they try to keep Bob in that role?
[13:29] Brad talks about teams who complain about their clients and how difficult that can be to reel back in if your team has negative sentiments about a client.
[13:48] Ken says that he puts a lot of focus on not letting that client talk get out of hand. Venting can turn into negative energy which can turn to cynicism. Venting can turn into gossiping which can damage the team mindset.
[15:45] Ken continues, saying that with so many different types of personalities, it can be challenging to not feel threatened or create situations where you alert people’s defenses. There are relational tactics that work but Ken asks, what happens if these tactics dont’t work?
[17:21] Brad suggests that approaching the conversation with “Here’s some things that can make the relationship better for us- how can we help you at the same time?”
[18:36] Brad says that Step 1 is to be clear with what could be helpful in improving your relationship. The setting is important here as well, making them feel like it’s more than just a business meeting.
[21:49] Brad shares about a client who is domineering and has a “my way or the highway” personality type. It can be intimidating for the team to get on calls with this client because of that personality type. The drive is showing clients like this that you are even smarter and even more of an expert than they are- when they lean in to challenge, you need to lean back with the same energy so that client feels heard and seen and supported.
[23:25] Bob adds that making a person feel valued in the relationship is key. “Am I worth anything in this situation?” is the question people will be asking themselves- speak to that question based on the personality type that you’re working with. This will help you engage in those confrontations in a more professional and kind way.
[26:12] Bob gives a for instance of how this preparation can help to define processes and create boundaries for your clients. This will be proactive in dealing with certain personalities that may create friction.
[27:00] Ken says that having these processes in place means that you can enforce those boundaries for yourself and for your team.
[28:45] Brad says that if you do feel the need to switch your point person so that the client has an easier time communicating, bring that person into meetings first and make sure they will be the right replacement.
[31:41] Bob asks if the guys have ever had clients who were simply too difficult to deal with- if so how did they deal with it?
[32:41] Ken says they have a current client like this, who is not receptive to communication or connection. There are also situations where people are prone to drama and making decisions out of emotion. He suggests bringing solutions to the problem when you bring up the problem.
[35:15] Brad says that it's also a good option to get a personal line of communication- or when you first meet with them, mention that xyz is the way you’d address issues, but also ask if that works for them or if they have another preference. This is a great way to be proactive about issues that may arise.
[36:05] Ken talks about how the mindset is that your clients are thinking about you all the time- either your relationship or the project you’re working on. In reality, there is an awareness you have to have of where you fit into their work life.
[38:32] Brad makes another suggestion- bring in people that you trust to talk about a situation with a client.
[39:27] Brad shares a story from school and says “You can’t get connected, you can’t expect that people are going to be nice.” All you can control is the way that you respond.
[41:23] Bob asks about managing personal relationships that turn into professional relationships, and whether they move quickly and less carefully because they’re personal connections.
[44:56] Ken asks 1 final question- are there rules to who is privy to the details of your engagement? It can be an important detail to consider- who will know the ins and outs of the engagement and who will have the authority to question or reroute that?
[46:39] Brad says that this is an important detail to consider- if people aren’t on the same page, as if these people aren’t privy to the boundaries of the project, they can start asking for things that are out of scope and not possible.
[49:59] Ken adds that sometimes there can be an assumption that if anyone on the client team asks you a question, you give them an answer. But it’s important to know how the levels of information are passed down and who is in on what parts of the project.
[51:09] Brad throws out a popular quote here with Agency Exposed- “ Systems and processes run your business, and people run the systems and processes.”