It used to be easy to be an account manager. You did what your client told you, and you kept the figures for monthly and quarterly reports. That is starting to change in the marketing world. Clients want more. They want ideas and strategic suggestions to help deal with competition and move to the next level. An adviser, a consultant if you will, is what more companies want from their PPC account executive. Being a strategic adviser is going to help gain clients and retain the loyalty of those you already have.
How to Become a Strategic Partner
It requires a focus adjustment. Sales professionals will talk about solution-based selling, which is at the core of the transformation. You do more than just take assignments; you listen. Time in meetings is spent not just addressing current issues, but learning from the client any fundamental problems that beg solutions. You are then able to recommend PPC tactics that will solve the issues.
What you are doing by making those suggestions is increasing the value of the relationship. Your client begins to appreciate you as a professional who is facilitating that company’s attempt to reach certain goals, and perhaps go further.
Be Careful About Best Practices
They are seductive and used as a quick fix in many situations. However, those best practices might not resolve a given issue one of your clients is facing. Communication and finding out what the most serious problems your client is confronting. will allow you to provide even better service by recommending strategies that remove roadblocks to corporate success. In other words, investigate the situation and do not automatically recommend best practices solutions.
Think Long Term
Looking beyond this month’s figures is a challenge for all organizations. Considering the long-term effects of decisions is strategic thinking and produces more significant results. It is not difficult to switch gears, and here is how you can do it:
- Identify the roadblocks your client is facing on the road to achieving objectives. What are the major challenges which must be addressed and are there critical needs to be satisfied?
- Offer advice to solve those major problems and/or satisfy a critical need;
- Get the client’s approval of the recommended action;
- Activate the suggested plan and routinely measure performance.
The Best Way to Do It
There are several things you can do to become more of a business adviser
- Know Your Client’s Business. It is going to require research, but the more you know about the business, and how it makes a profit, the better will be the advice you give
- Ask Questions. Encourage your client to provide greater insights into operations by asking open-ended questions.
- Listen. You have two ears and one mouth: which is twice as important than the other? Paraphrasing what you are told shows you have an awareness of what the client tells you.
- Share Your Insights. Be able to explain what you believe influences performance.
- Think Long Term. It requires an appreciation of the big picture and where the client wishes to go.
- Stay in Touch. Follow up helps build a relationship. Ask for feedback and make any revisions suggested by the client.
The above is going to take time and persistence. However, as you demonstrate an ability to give good advice and produce results, your recommendations will get more attention, and you will be considered a team player and not just an informed outsider.
Keep Your Communication Skills Sharp.
Advising must be more than dry reports. The ability to communicate your suggestions, pointing out how they are going to help your client, is essential. Performance figures are important, but a dry recitation of statistics impresses nobody. Your communication skills should be excellent. You can enhance your ability to communicate your ideas by following a few simple rules:
- Know Your Audience. Have an awareness of who it is you’re going to be talking with. The executive is different than a marketing manager, and the conversation must reflect that.
- What is Important to Your Listeners. A high-level decision maker may want to know strategy and a lower level manager would be more concerned with tactics. How you communicate must reflect what they need.
- Develop Your Message. So that your clients can connect with the words on a personal as well as professional level
- The Important Information Must Come First. This recognizes how short attention spans can be. You don’t want to bore your audience, and bringing out the main features keeps the listener engaged.
You can follow these guidelines with any presentation:
- Cut to the chase and mention what is gained from what you will show;
- Go over the current performance and tell why is good or bad (Suggest improvements and enhancements).
- Reveal what has been learned because of the performance
- Talk about the next steps (Emphasize how these will help achieve objectives).
You do not have to be just a third-party account manager. You can be an adviser, providing useful information and insights to all your clients. Your ability to use paid searches to solve their business challenges will increase your value, and enhance your reputation. You will be better able to retain clients by being an adviser and not just the PPC guy. It is because you bring more to the table and clients want to see that.