When you begin a new project with a client, it’s essential to hit the ground running at the speed of light. Doing so will go a long way towards earning trust from the client. Still, you can’t begin the heavy lifting without some standard info.
So how do you successfully navigate the early contract waters? Easy: focus your attention in the right areas. Here are a few best practices on launching yourself and your team towards client + agency glory.
Talk to your Sales Team
Hopefully this guy doesn’t work at your company…
Step #1 is to talk to your sales peeps. Don’t be shy. After walking the client through the sales process, your sales team should know more than a thing or two about the client, and they’ll have some essential information that you and your team can use.
Pick their brains on what the client’s primary goals are. What does the client really want to achieve? Who are the decision makers? What personality types do the main contacts have? These questions will all aid in effectively managing the client moving forward.
Prepare the basics
What questions will your team need to have answered? Prepare a list and get it to the client right away. If the client’s overall goals are not clear, ask questions to define them. Learn about their available resources, important logins, competitive advantages, shortcomings, upcoming campaigns, and all sorts of wonderful marketing goodness.
The list will be an invaluable foundation of information for you, and a good way to make the client feel invested in the project. Even better, these answers will present your team with the requisite background they need in order to hit the agreed-upon goals.
Do your homework
Look at their site! It may sound too obvious, but this is a huge priority that many account managers overlook. Do a quick visual test and figure out what’s working and what isn’t. A 5 – 10 minute review should present at least a few opportunities.
Then, search for their brand name. Are they showing up first in search results for branded searches? If not, that’s a massive issue that will need to be addressed ASAP. Unless, of course, your client named themselves Adidas Advocates or Kleenex® Consulting… in which case they shot themselves in the branding foot from the very beginning.
For extra credit, set up Google Alerts for the client’s name, top keywords (learned from sales + questions you sent them), and do the same for their competitors. If something big in the industry comes up, you spot it, and you briefly advise them on appropriate action you’ll win the gold star for awesomeness at the very start of the engagement. Do it!
Spread the word
Managers will need to assign resources to each project. Make sure your scheduling people are well aware of the upcoming deliverables so resources can be properly allocated and deadlines are met. Managers don’t like resource shortage surprises and most people don’t like working 80 hour weeks.
Don’t forget to prep the allocated resources on the client. All participating individuals must be fully award of a client’s KPI’s, strengths, limitations, business style, and the like.
Once you have all the information you need, remember to keep it well-organized throughout the duration of the engagement. Oh, and don’t be shy about keeping your team in the loop as the project unfolds! What you may perceive as being annoying and overly communicative with details could end up providing the success vs. failure tipping of the scale.