As account managers, we can literally spend several hours a day on the phone speaking to our clients about their accounts. Remembering that these clients have placed their trust in us to manage their PPC spend, it’s incredibly important to create a relationship that runs deeper than their last weekly report. But how do you achieve that personal connection with your client that leaves them loving you and, more importantly, trusting you?
An Extension of Their Team
Let’s be honest–that first call with a new client can be uncomfortable and awkward. You’re both feeling each other out, trying to understand each other’s personalities. Underneath it all, the goal should be the same–for both parties to work together toward a successful PPC campaign. But how do you bring it all together? How do you make the client feel like their business is just as important to YOU as it is to them?
The first thing I tell every one of my new clients is that my goal is to become an extension of their internal marketing team. I want them to feel like I’m sitting right there in the office with them, albeit way in the back of their office. Telling this to a new client is one thing, but follow-thru is necessary to reinforce it. The first step in achieving this goal starts with the account manager. Let’s take a look at some of the tactics that can help you connect closely with the client and the account.
Clients like to know that you’re interested in their product or service. While it’s great to know the account inside out, it’s also important for the client to know that we seek to understand their entire business. If you’re dealing with a lead gen client, perhaps ask some questions about their internal sales process or about what happens to a lead after the client receives it. Asking for this type of information illustrates that you are interested in understanding the “bigger picture” and it can actually help you better manage the account.
If you’re dealing with an ecommerce client, you might want to ask questions about their top products, shipping methods or return policy. The more you ask these type of questions, the more the client will feel comfortable with you managing their valuable marketing dollars.
If we truly want to be viewed as an extension of a company’s internal marketing team, it’s important to provide the client with timely responses to their requests and questions. Even if you’re swamped with work from other clients, a simple response by the end of the day letting the client know that you will soon focus on their request will go a long way. The one thing we never want to happen is for a client to say, “I reached out to you, but you didn’t respond to me.”
It’s one thing to tell a client what we are doing, but we can take the relationship to the next level if we can clearly explain WHY we are doing it. Some clients know a lot about PPC, while others know close to nothing. Therefore, it’s important to explain and, in some cases, educate our clients on how the PPC process works so that they will understand our efforts and trust in what we are doing.
I recently dealt with a client with limited PPC knowledge. To bridge the gap a bit, I provided them with a tutorial of AdWords, as well as an explanation of common terms that I’d be using in our discussions. That extra knowledge enabled them to understand the process better and made our weekly calls more fruitful and collaborative.
Listen To The Client
Even if the client has limited PPC knowledge, you still need to listen to what they are telling you. Regardless of how great an account manager you are, one thing is certain–no one is going to know the client’s business better than the client! While their input on account management might not always make the best sense for their account, it’s crucial to listen to what the client is saying and take their thoughts into consideration.
If they are taking the time to convey their thoughts on the topic to you, then it must be important to them. And if we are going to function as an extension of their internal marketing team, then what’s important to them must become important to us.
Have you ever had a client call full of awkward silences and pauses? Our goal is to deliver PPC account information to our clients, but we also need to have a conversation with them. Truth be told, not everyone has the “gift of gab,” but you’ll definitely have a better exchange with your client if you’re energetic, positive and take the first few minutes of the call to share a friendly exchange.
If your call is after a holiday, then start off by asking how their holiday was. If you happen to know that you have something in common with the client, then try mentioning something about that. And, of course, some banter about the weather always works too. The bottom line is that you want to avoid jumping right into performance metrics as soon as the call starts. Let them get to know you a little bit. Let them see you as a person, rather than just an account manager.
You might be wondering why all of this is important if the account is performing well. As we all know, account performance frequently fluctuates and we are usually only as good as our last report. Establishing a deeper relationship and connecting with our clients enables them to trust us to address performance issues when they arise and keep steering the account in the right direction.