The way that clients approach you tells you everything you need to know about the service they expect. More importantly it tells you a lot about the quality of the relationship they are looking for.
“We’d like to do this. We need your help. Can you do this work for me?”
This enquiry is so very transactional. No mention of the relationship.
You are the supplier. End of. £5,000 of PPC spend per month. Or 100 hours of dev time. Or an all-singing-all-dancing website for £5,000.
Don’t expect a long-term premium relationship.
There’s a job to be done and they think you can do it. Then you’ll be out on your backside.
This is the position of supplier.
Your service has been commoditised and you will probably end up competing on price.
“We want to do this. How do you think we should do it?
This is the role of the Trusted Advisor. Read anything by David Maister if you want to know about this position. Clearly it is far more desirable than the opening one.
There is a relationship desired here and it goes beyond the simple transaction. Trusted Advisor is a much better position than simple agency/supplier.
You are no longer competing on price. You are competing as an expert in the field. When they ask, “how should we distribute our PPC spend across the platforms?” or “how would you spend a £10,000 per month budget?” or “how would you improve the quantity and quality of traffic to our site?” then you are heading for a proper conversation.
“We’ve been thinking about doing this. Can we have your opinion? Do you think we should do it and if so, how?”
This is the position of Trusted or Wise Counsel. This, in my opinion, is the best position. You are no longer exchanging time for money.
The offering goes way beyond selling a simple transaction. Your opinion is valued to such an extent that you have become part of the client’s decision-making process. You are on the inside and are influencing the process. For my money this is where you want to be.
My experience tells me that you can add the most value in the role of trusted counsel. It is a very special place to be. We find that if clients simply want to buy our service for the short-term transactional value (as consultant/supplier) then the relationship will not work.
You know you are on your way when clients say things like, “Here is our portfolio of products, which ones do you think we should be promoting and why?” or “do you think we’ve got these marketing objectives right?”.
Do you simply want transactional relationship with your clients? There’s no problem if you do. It is just one of several business agency models.
Can you see the benefit in moving to a trusted advisor or wise counsel role and how might you do that?
What would the benefits to the client be if you were in the role of trusted advisor or wise counsel?
If you want to stop selling a commodity and stop competing on price then the trusted advisor or wise counsel route is probably the way out.