I’m assigned to all of Hanapin’s new clients. I participate on kickoff calls and at least 50% of weekly calls during the first 90 days of a new relationship. Based on my observations, the largest obstacle to early success with new clients can be tied directly to the effectiveness of client calls.
Today I’m going to outline my methodology for conducting an effective client call. Following these principles should help foster strong, fruitful relationships with your PPC clients.
Making A Personal Connection
The most important element of an effective client call is establishing personal connections with whomever you’re communicating with. Building strong personal connections with clients is a key step towards building trust. As PPC professionals, we’re managing large portions of our client’s marketing budget. Having a client who likes and trusts their PPC consultant or agency makes it easier to explain and justify what’s being done in an account and to gain buy-in.
Listed below are some ways I go about building a personal connection with my clients.
- Find something in common outside business to talk about. For instance, I had a client who was very interested in sports. We used to spend a few minutes talking about our favorite teams before ‘getting down to business.’ Small talk is a great icebreaker and makes the client call more conversational and less adversarial.
- Humanize yourself by discussing something interesting in your personal life (don’t worry, you don’t have to disclose any deep, dark secrets). Maybe just a small anecdote on what you did for the weekend or an interest you have. In my personal experience, I’ve found when clients view me as a person rather than just a business associate, I’m given the benefit of the doubt when issues pop up or performance is not on par.
- Ask your client how they or their family are faring. This shows you care about your client not just as a business asset, but also as a human being. Whenever clients feel I show personal concern for them, I find they go the extra mile on their end to help me succeed.
A client relationship is two or more people coming together to achieve a common purpose. It’s much easier to get things accomplished when the person you’re working with likes and trusts you.
Providing Insights & Key Takeaways
Another key to effective client calls is providing key insights and takeaways. We often fall into the trap of robotically regurgitating performance numbers without providing any context regarding what those numbers mean. Below are examples of how I provide the back-story of what’s driving performance and what can be learned and acted upon.
- When performance is down, I make sure to thoroughly explain root causes of the downturn. It’s not good enough to say, “leads are down 25%” and move onto the next agenda item. A much better way to approach this is to state “leads are down 25% due to less traffic because our ad position has dropped week over week.” This rationale provides insight and context into what’s causing the underperformance.
- Using the example from above, the next thing I do is explain any key takeaways. In this case, the key takeaway is to not let average position drop. We can infer that losing ad position will cause additional lead volume performance issues.
- Finally, key insights and takeaways aren’t worth much unless it’s followed up with a plan of action to address. Our example above outlined both the problem and its route cause. Providing a recommended solution is key to showing your client an understanding of what happened and how you intend to correct the problem. In this instance, try a simple statement such as “implement a bid strategy that maintains high average ad positions should help alleviate this issue and bring lead volume back to normal levels.”
Clients expect us to be problem solvers. They want someone who can identify a problem, determine its root cause, and recommend a course of action to improve performance. Following this method of providing key insights and takeaways can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your client calls.
Based on trial and error, I’ve learned my client calls are most successful when I discuss action items after providing key insights and takeaways. At this point, I’ve already established any issues/opportunities, root causes, provided recommended courses of action, and gained buy-in. Once a client is bought into the direction you want to go, it’s easier to discuss specific action items because those tasks are supporting your overall direction and strategy. I find when clients do not buy into the fundamental direction you want to take their PPC account, is when they challenge the action items and whether they’re the right tasks to be focusing on.
To ensure this part of the call is most effective I discuss action items in the following manner.
- Start off by discussing the status of any specific requests made by the client. Proactively providing an update on the status of what they specifically asked for demonstrates you’re in tune with their needs.
- Tying together how each action item relates to and supports the big picture. My goal is to ensure clients we’re not only working on items that will directly support the agreed upon strategy but also have the best chance of improving performance.
- Discuss any obstacles as to why a project or task will not be delivered on time. If it’s due to the client and anything they need to deliver on their end, I address it at this time. If it’s not on the client end, I explain why we’re not on time for completion and what we’re doing to remedy the situation.
- Discuss actual performance results regarding completed tasks or the expected results for projects not yet underway. This is my opportunity to show clients the work we’re doing is providing sufficient value.
The key takeaway is to not have your action item discussion be a laundry list of project and tasks. Instead, center your discussion on how your action items have or will impact results.
Client calls can be tricky. If they don’t go well, a negative impression of you or your agency is formed and the risk of losing the client increases. On the other hand, following the methodology outlined above has brought me success with my clients. Try employing this methodology and see if the effectiveness of your calls increase and if your client relationships continue to improve.