Although it might be difficult to believe, Account Executives do not come equipped with a “how-to” manual. Prior to reading “The Art of Client Service” by Robert Solomon, I thought that a great Account Executive required one to be a well-rounded individual that can stay organized, multitask, and keep both their clients and co-workers happy. However, Solomon shows us that it is much more than that. I don’t want to give it all away, so I will share with you the top 3 things that I think all AE’s should take away from the book:
1. Relationships build trust. Trust leads to great work. Great work builds better relationships.
After winning the pitch, a great Account Executive must build and nurture a relationship with their clients. People work with people they like. What does this mean? Take your clients out to lunch, dinner, happy hour, golf, etc. Send them hand written notes. Acknowledge their birthdays. Live their brand (submerge yourself in their product/service so you know how to sell it). LISTEN with open ears. Ask the right questions. Always remember that communication is KEY. Manage expectations. NEVER EVER surprise your clients with unknown costs/charges. Be willing to say “I messed up. I’m sorry”, and at the end of the day remember to keep it professional!
In the end, the relationship that you started will earn the trust of your clients. Over time, the trust and relationship will give your clients the confidence to let you try to advertising techniques or creative work that they would not be willing to take the risk on. Taking risks and trying new methods of advertising will allow the brand to grow and flourish. And as the brand grows, you and your agency grow with them!
2. Creative is, and always will be, subjective. At the end of the day, you’ve got to fight for what the client wants, but deliver what the client needs.
Creative can truly make or break a brand. Your client knows their product/service better than you ever will and they will have their own opinions on what their website and ads should look and sound like – Never outweigh their opinions. Give them what they ask for but always be prepared to show them what they need. Make sure you work with your creative team to make this happen. You might get push-back, but when presented with vigor, 9 times out of 10 your client will choose your idea and work. Just like with your clients, you should ALWAYS say please and thank you to those who help make it all happen.
At times you and your coworkers will not see eye to eye. When this happens, just follow Solomon’s advice: “Remind your colleagues that you need one another in order to create the best possible advertising in the most efficient and cost-effective way.” Don’t forget to keep your opinions at home – Always present the facts. The facts will help support your work, which will make your client’s decision easy!
3. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it!
As Solomon said, “The job of account executive is the most difficult in the agency business. It’s an intellectual high-wire act.” As I’ve told many people before – It’s not always easy, but seeing your clients succeed and the relationships you build make it all worth it.