Creating Wins - guest post

Back to the basics: Client acquisition and retention

We like to talk of innovation and disruptive technology, but at the heart of every successful business is the ability to deliver high quality work to happy customers. It’s as simple as that.

No matter the latest technologies and trends, agencies will continue to win clients on quality of work, and lose clients on quality of the client experience.

Note: For a deep-dive into Creating Wins for Both Client and Agency, come to the October 21 ADWKDC session where Patrick King, Robert W. Sprague and I will speak.

Your foundation
As an agency consultant, I’ve had the pleasure of advising more than 160 agencies across six continents. They vary in size, budget, and services, but ultimately I see that the successful agencies cover both quality of work and client experience. You can organize this combination using the Warmth & Competence model.

Competence refers to skills and qualifications. An agency must be able to deliver results for their clients. For example, if you’re selling umbrellas they should be waterproof. If you’re selling web building services, you should have a skilled team of graphic designers, web developers, and copywriters.

Warmth refers to client experience and personal relationships. An agency should understand who their clients are and their main concerns. Your client should feel comfortable reaching out to you, and confident that you have their best interests in mind. Client experience is affected by things such as the personality of your account managers, how often you communicate with clients, and expectations management.

Winning clients
You win clients by emphasizing solutions, not services. Show them how they can personally benefit from working with you, and demonstrate your expertise. This may take the form of strategic consulting or service recommendations. For example, instead of listing out everything your agency can do and risk overwhelming a potential client, advise them on what particular services they may benefit from and explain.

Bottom line: Clients want to see what you’ve done and what you can do before investing their time and money with you.

Retaining clients
Closing a client isn’t enough. Once you’ve landed a client, you need to retain them. According to Kissmetrics, it may cost up to 7x more to acquire new customers than to retain them, and the global average value of a lost customer is $243. This means that customer retention has high returns for less investment than acquiring new customers. Yet 44% of companies focus more on acquisition, versus 18% that focuses more on retention, according to Invesp. Agencies also have a 60 to 70% chance of selling to existing customers, versus a scant 5 to 20% chance of closing a deal with a new customer.

So how do you retain clients? Through warmth and the client experience. Eliminate missed deadlines, miscommunications, and scary silences. Your clients should truly enjoy working with you and trust your agency to deliver good work because of a personal investment. If your clients believe that you care about their success (and you should), plus you’re delivering results, they will stay.

Bottom line: Competence isn’t enough, your agency must be a pleasure to work with.
Getting back to basics means that despite the latest “disruptive” business model and the most innovative products, your business should continue to focus on high-quality delivery paired with a professional and pleasant working relationship. Again—no matter the latest technologies and trends, agencies will continue to win clients on quality of work, and lose clients on quality of the client experience.

Special Guest Post by Karl Sakas, Agency Consultant, Sakas & Company

Check out Karl’s speaker bio, and mark your calendar for his session Creating Wins for Both Client and Agencyalong with the rest of this year’s weeklong ADWKDC celebration – happening October 15-21. 

Photo credit: Unsplash

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