3 ways agency account managers can work better with new client hires
Dealing with a new hire can come with hurdles, but don't let it intimidate you. Columnist Matt Umbro explains how to make the transition as smooth as possible and improve your client relationship.
Often, when we think of an account transition, it’s from one account manager to another. For example, account manager X manages the PPC account for a year, and then account manager Y takes over. Generally, there is a transition period where the client and the new account manager are learning each other’s ways.
Some agencies even have account manager transition processes to make the process as painless as possible. However, one transition that is rarely discussed is when the client brings on a new hire to join the relationship.
This new hire may join the relationship in a variety of ways. This person may:
- work equally with your existing contact as an additional team member;
- replace your existing contact on day-to-day management and communication; or
- lead your contact as part of a higher-level marketing initiative (i.e., a company bringing in a marketing manager to oversee PPC, SEO and email marketing).
In all of these scenarios, this new hire adds a fresh perspective and looks to put their stamp on the relationship. This introduction of the new hire can be stressful to the account manager, as the results and history of the relationship tend to be put under a microscope. New hires want to prove their worth to their new companies, which sometimes comes at the expense of the account manager.
As the account manager, there are action items you should take to nullify potential inquisitions, while also helping the new hire become familiar with the account.
Explain the history of the account
I find that new hires immediately focus on performance and how it can be improved. This statement seems obvious, as the goal is always to produce better results.
However, the new hire doesn’t yet understand the context of those results. Anyone can randomly look at an account and provide performance improvement recommendations without considering all of the variables, both tangible and non-tangible. It’s harder to consider issues like:
- slow implementation of items such as remarketing code and Shopping feed updates;
- changes in the marketplace;
- past initiatives that may have failed but were worth testing; and
- seasonality where revenue volume may have been more important than ROI.
That’s why it’s critical for the account manager to, at the very least, give a high-level overview of the account’s history. Explain what the goals are and how they have changed over time. Explain the account strategy and the initiatives that have been taken over time. Explain how the relationship has worked and what the pain points have been.
It’s expected that the new hire will question performance, but make sure everything is put into context so that they have the complete picture.
When someone questions your work, it’s natural to become defensive and rationalize why you are doing a good job. Instead, I find that presenting more information and then scaling back makes sense.
For example, let’s say that the new hire questions why a PPC campaign was built a certain way. Instead of giving a general answer such as “This was the way we discussed at the time,” or “We tend to build campaigns this way,” go in-depth about your process.
You might explain that research dictated the campaign be broken out into 10 ad groups. With the goal being to increase revenue, you wrote ads with a call to action of “buy now” or “shop selection.” You decided that product-specific ad groups would lead to product-specific landing pages, while the general ad groups would go to category pages.
You may also mention that you started bidding higher on certain keywords with higher last-click cost per conversions because they were assisting conversions elsewhere.
This explanation is in-depth, gives a clear picture of what was done and doesn’t hide anything. Your approach may still be questioned, but at least you’ve explained everything.
This longer response can also help the new hire gain confidence in you. Detailed and transparent explanations help ensure strong, trust-based relationships, which leads to the next point.
Following the trend of honesty, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts with the new hire about how the relationship can be improved. Just make sure to proceed with caution and don’t throw anybody under the bus. The most common client-side bottlenecks I find include:
- slow response time;
- inability to make code changes; and
- lack of image/video ad creative.
The new hire may not be able to solve these issues, but can hopefully be an advocate for you and your requests moving forward.
Vice versa, listen to how the new hire would like things to go. As an example, you may not have previously provided weekly reports, but the new hire now requests that they are sent. Or, at least initially, the new hire would like a daily recap of account optimizations.
Make sure you set appropriate expectations, but be willing to work with this person. Think of it as a renaissance of the relationship where both parties will hopefully implement each other’s feedback.
Don’t think of a new hire as a challenge that needs to be overcome. Though it can be an intimidating experience, the more transparent you are, the better the relationship will be in the long run. At the end of the day, everyone wants to improve performance, so make sure you are doing what you can to attain that goal.