gRantvertising

September 23, 2010

Cork the Whine

Filed under: Career Advice,Client/Agency Relations,Leadership,Staying Fresh — Joe Grant @ 12:01 pm

Subscribe

Subscribe using an RSS feed reader or by email.

speak-no-evil_new

It’s 1:30 and you breeze out the agency door bellowing, “I’m off to see those dumbass s.o.b.s again.”

Ah, the much anticipated client meeting! When you arrive a half hour later to do business with them, what do you think happens to all that bad karma?

Our business is simple: agencies have relationships with clients to help them sell stuff. If you have a bad attitude about your clients, things just aren’t going to go smoothly.

But they’re jerks, you say? Well, OK. Here’s some straight-ahead advice.

First of all, clients are your customers, for crisakes! Didn’t you once beg these guys to become a client, promising them your first-born and swearing you’d practically live at their place? Just think about that for a moment. It’s really all you need to know. Clients are your customers.

But if you harbor dark thoughts about what scoundrels these clients be you’ll not only infect your colleagues and extinguish their passion for working on this account, you’ll also plant an adverse message in your own subconscious mind, telling it you just don’t care. When you don’t care – even though you swear you’re a pro – you dam the ability to generate good ideas, deplete your energy, and imperceptibly arrest your skyward career. Not good.

Now if you’re an agency principal you have bigger issues. I’ve seen presidents bad mouth clients, post ridiculing emails and cartoons, and get up in front of Monday morning status meetings to publicly (but of course behind their backs) insult and drag down the very people they’d present a multimillion dollar campaign to that afternoon. Does this make sense? It certainly isn’t what anyone would call professional.

Look, clients are rarely bad people. They’re just ordinary folks much like you who find themselves having to work for a living and probably doing all they can to survive capricious management and pay their bills. They’re your clients, your customers. Don’t let your attitude cripple your ability to do business with them.

When you’ve got challenging clients, here’s a simple trick for getting beyond yourself by doing something for yourself. Yes, that’s a tortuous sentence but stick with me here.

Give them a gift, if you will, of a little something extra – something they weren’t expecting or didn’t ask for. But do it without any expectation of being appreciated. Maybe they will thank you; then again maybe they won’t. Thanks is beside the point here. You don’t give a gift to get thanks – you do it because it’s a good unselfish thing to do.

You might ask, why do something nice for someone who won’t appreciate it? Simple answer (and herein lies the magic): because it’s YOUR opportunity to behave one notch up on the scale of human beingness. You do it because it’s a small act of polishing your own self. In a way, I suppose, that makes it selfish but a good kind of selfish.

Clients have good and bad days; some clients are more difficult to deal with than others. Your job is to maintain yourself on a personal high road, not to get drawn to their level. The really successful account people we know seamlessly maintain their professional mien.

In the end it’s about the choices you make. You can choose to snarl and moan about what a lousy client they are, come home at night and kick the dog, take comfort in an extra scotch or two…

Or you can simply say it is what it is. And then concentrate on bringing your best game no matter the circumstances.

Subscribe

Subscribe using an RSS feed reader or by email.

Advertisements

3 Comments »

  1. It also helps when agency people have worked on the client side for a while. Deep appreciation for what’s going on over on that side of things. It gives agency people a better perspective and possibly more patience when things are not so rosy. Still, with that said, doesn’t give clients the right to treat agencies like second-class citizens and with so much pressure on everyone now, we sometimes get the brunt of the anger and frustration. Hard to take some days. Instead of “Wife Swap” we need “Role Swap.”

    Comment by Donna Forbes — September 23, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

  2. Excellent post, Joe. As Bob Hope says, You can’t fake enthusiasm, and if you’re continually cussing out a client after the conference call, you’re guaranteeing more situations to cuss out in the future. (Including the prospect of having no clients!)

    Comment by Stephen Moegling — September 26, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

  3. Thanks for the comments. Believe me, clients know when you’re sneering behind their back. They just know. But Donna, you’re right too — sometimes you need to have a heart-to-heart to tell them that you’ll work for them (actually work WITH them) . . . but you won’t take their abuse.

    Comment by Joe Grant — September 26, 2010 @ 5:04 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: