In a recent email exchange with an agency principal, client types came up, and this agency partner wrote:

I’ve always said our company has two kinds of clients:

  1. The Desperate. Something has gone very wrong and they need a fix and pretty fast.
  2. Visionary. They know there is much more to be gained, but aren’t getting it or want it from a company that they can trust with low risk.

Both truly hit home from two perspectives:

The first from a perspective of our own clients at RSW.

I wouldn’t say we get a lot of desperate clients in the same sense as the above, but we certainly talk to agencies who have, for example, lost a client, or haven’t had good success with new business internally and suddenly realize they need to get on the new business train NOW.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in those cases, we want to make sure we set expectations properly.

And then there are those visionary agency clients, who, in regards to new business, understand it’s a process and not about the quick hits, who ultimately may not be the right type of client.

From a second perspective, we hear similar desperate/visionary stories from agencies (clients and non-clients) often.

Sometimes you’ll never be able to tell what category they fall into until you actually work with them.

Your Agency Clients The Visionary And Yes, The Desperate

But you can hedge your bets, starting with your new business strategy.

Obviously those visionary clients are the golden fleece, and when you come across one, should actively go above and beyond to land them.

Then there are the desperate clients, which are decidedly more numerous.

As I mentioned above, those aren’t automatically bad clients, in fact, you often have the chance to be the hero, fixing a mess the previous agency created, for example.

With those situations come trade offs of course: monster, or barely manageable deadlines, potentially unrealistic expectations and a team that faces the possibility (probability?) of extreme burnout.

The key is setting your own guidelines up front, as part of your new business strategy.

Sit down with your team and decide the situations where you would be willing to work with those desperate clients, where you have to be able to check off 7 of your top 10 guidelines in order to consider working with that desperate potential client.

Is this realistic?  Not always-sometimes you have to take that new client, desperate, visionary or otherwise, but by establishing guidelines up front, you can, at a minimum, work towards ultimately being able to pick and choose your ideal clients.

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Lee McKnight Jr
VP of Sales at RSW/US
I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at lee@rswus.com. What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.