The initial conversations between client and agency set the tone for the entire relationship going forward.  Seems simple enough – but the nuances of the approach makes the biggest difference.

On the street, we all know that the economy is not rebounding as they are touting in the press.  It just isn’t.  But this should not mean that businesses create an atmosphere where a “master-slave” scenario is locked into place and jumping through hoops becomes the norm.  It really doesn’t.

First, you, your new business team and/or account team should have the self-respect and belief in the company and service/product that you are selling.  Second, you should have the belief that you are on equal footing with the client.  Why are you on equal footing?  Simply because you run a business with honesty and integrity and will provide the value that the client is buying.  Everyone is getting (and giving) what they are contracted to be getting and giving.

But shouldn’t we go above and beyond?  You ask.  Why yes, you should. But who defines what is above and beyond?  You do.

Besides providing the contracted work on time and on budget, above and beyond could mean that you spend the time getting to know the clients business, advising them on possible market opportunities they can take advantage of.  Above and beyond can also mean that you get to know the person on the client-side of the fence and help them shape the business so it means more efficiency for your current project and for them internally as they moving forward.  Above and beyond can also mean making sure that you provide transparency for the issues that may arise in the course of the project, letting them know that you have anticipated issues and are going to resolve the circumstance with “x” solution.

Above and beyond doesn’t mean that you cater to the whimsy of a client.  Another thing that it doesn’t mean is jumping through hoops, burning through your budget and your teams, because you have allowed the client too much latitude with regard to the interpretation of what the contracted work entails.

Start-ups and small businesses can fall into the traps laid out above because they are afraid that the business pipeline may dry up if they don’t go “overboard.”  This is completely false.  The pipeline will dry up if clients do not respect you & your offerings because you don’t respect who you are your offerings.  The pipeline will dry up if you overpromise and cannot deliver.  Take a deep breath, refocus, and reverse that.  Build your reputation on UNDERPROMISING and OVERDELIVERING. Being known for solid work will precede you and in turn bring you more of the kind of business you want.

A good partner is always more valuable than a good slave.  A partner brings insight and depth to the relationship.  A slave — basically does what he is told, when he is told, and how he is told. Which would you rather be?

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