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Reply To: Change in client leadership

Chip Griffin
April 25, 2022 at 11:09 am #16986

It is not uncommon for new leadership to want to change agencies — even when there isn’t anything obviously wrong with existing performance.

That can be an opportunity to get in the door, but as this reader notes, it is also a risk for you if you are the incumbent agency.

If they are set on bringing in their own favorite agency, there’s not much that you can do.

That said, most often the new leadership has an itch to change but not a firm decision until they evaluate the situation.

The best time to focus on this, of course, is before the change happens. Build the relationship beyond just a single contact at the client. Get your tentacles into as much of the organization as possible by talking to more people and sending your reports and other communications to a wide swath (not in a spammy way, but an informative one).

Once the change happens, make sure that you get to know the new person as soon as possible. You need to worry not just about changes at the top in the form of the ultimate decision-maker. Often the biggest thorn can be a new junior person who is your day-to-day contact.

Educate the new individual about what you do. Listen to them to learn what they want to see. Answer their questions directly and honestly.

Perhaps most importantly, you need to treat this almost as a new client. Step up your game. Invest more time in it. Reflect back on what you may have been “phoning in” or taking for granted (we all do it subconsciously even though we don’t want to).

With all that said, sometimes you won’t be able to retain the client. That’s OK. Client turnover creates opportunities for us, too, even though it can be painful in the moment. It’s one of the reasons that you want to avoid whale clients that account for too large (typically >20%) of your agency’s revenue.

Hopefully it all works out well for our reader, though! Thanks for the question.

Chip Griffin founded the Small Agency Growth Alliance (SAGA) to help PR and marketing agency owners achieve their goals.

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