Industry consultant Robb High recently blasted out a promotional e-mail entitled, “Client retention mistake #6: believing the agency’s “great work” will be respected by a new CMO.”
In the memo, High said, “53 percent of agency reviews are triggered by a change in the C-suite, so the likelihood the incumbent agency will be replaced is frighteningly high.” He added that, when the CMO of an agency’s largest client is replaced, it’s one of the “scariest moments” in an agency’s life. To which I say, amen brother.
We’ve been on both sides of what many refer to as “the new sheriff in town scenario.” We’ve been invited to pitch a new piece of business because of a previous relationship with the sheriff. And, we’ve also watched helplessly as one of our accounts is put up for bid after a direct client report leaves (or is asked to leave). The latter scenario once happened with what was, at the time, our largest account. And, as High states, it was easily one of the scarier moments in our 20-year history.
High argues the best strategy to combat the new sheriff syndrome is maintaining an aggressive new business pipeline. That is so true. And, frankly, it’s something we’ve struggled to perfect over our 20-year history. We’re now using a number of software systems that help us identify prospects in our sweet spot as well as those where we may have only one degree of separation. I must say it’s been working quite well. Both our new business and client retention rates have improved significantly.
New business is the lifeblood of an agency. That’s because, like baseball managers, we’re hired to be fired. It could be a month, a decade or longer, but the ax will fall.
Amen brother. Though besides bizdev agencies would do well to build relationships at the CEO or Presdident level to avoid the fear when your key client contact leaves. Build quarterly or semi-annual CEO meetings or calls into your LOA and make those meetings part of your firm’s DNA.