I presented at the #INBOUND Conference on a topic that is vital for every agency leader to understand: Chemistry.

profiling clients

Clients come in many different flavors.

New business wins most often depend on which firm the prospect likes best – not which firm does the best work. Client retention is driven by personal wants and needs – not how well you manage projects. Once you understand this, you can see why new business and client retention is mainly about people and your firm’s ability to manage relationships. Learn the best way to match your people with prospects and clients to improve your likeability. The most effective way we know is by profiling your clients and prospects with a simple but effective tool.

Given that there is a lot of misunderstanding out there about what makes up chemistry, and why it’s so important, I thought I would provide a short FAQ.

10 FAQs About Chemistry:

1. Question: What is chemistry?

A: Chemistry is the way our firm describes an agency’s likeability with prospects and clients. Chemistry is that funny stuff in the space between people. It’s not about you or me, but what’s between us. That space is called chemistry, and it’s a driving force in new business and client retention. Chemistry is rarely talked about. Firms don’t like to say “we just don’t like you” when explaining to an agency why they weren’t hired or why you were fired. Perhaps it would help if we called it “likeability” as in “I like another firm more than you.” Good chemistry has more to do with meeting expectations, as in “I think we could work with these people best.”

2. Question: That’s not much help. Agencies can’t make clients like them?

A: Oh, yes they can. Chemistry is easy to control once you understand the language of clients. And that means interpreting what a client really wants from an agency, or as we describe it, what type of agency a client wants to work with.

3. Question: Don’t clients tell agencies what they are looking for in an agency?

A: Yes and no. Yes, meaning there is usually a wish list of things a client wants in an agency. This laundry list usually provides subject matter that might be essential, such as direct response or digital or some specific industry knowledge. But no, meaning there is another side not told to agencies by clients, but it’s quickly understood by those who understand the secret language of clients.

4. Question: What secret language?

A: The language of profiling. That means knowing that clients come in one of four flavors. It’s important for an agency to understand how to place clients in one of those four flavors or patterns or profiles because that guides how the client wants work delivered, how they make decisions, all aspects of the normal client-agency interaction. In new business, it’s the final arbitrator in which agency will be hired.

5. Question: What’s a profile?

A: Profile is a term used to describe one of the four basic personality groupings that all humans fall into, every person from every corner of the globe. We are all born with one of four major profiling forces within us, and we live our lives in step with that force but rarely understand its influence over us.

6. Question: Did Sanders Consulting Group invent profiling?

A: No. Profiling goes back to the Egyptians, who observed that mankind comes in one of four basic flavors or profiles and they thought each was influenced by one of the four basic building blocks that made up the universe. And those building blocks were thought to be earth, air, fire and water. That learning was passed on from civilization to civilization until it came into the modern world essentially unchanged from over three thousand years ago. Now we understand it’s all DNA passed on primarily from our ancestors. There are a multitude of personality classification systems, including MBTI, DISC, etc. But for the purposes of marketing, four major types are the best approach. Our firm shaped that profiling education into training programs agencies all over the world use to help win accounts and keep clients. To help facilitate understanding of the process, we gave each of the four flavors, or profiles, names that any marketing person can understand, based on the four parts to a simple print ad — the Headline™, the BodyCopy™, the Illustration™ and the Logo™.

6. Question: Bob, this seems like something nice to know but what does this have to do with new business?

A: It has everything to do with new business because companies don’t hire agencies, people do. And they hire agencies that match their expectations. And each profile has a distinctively different expectation of an agency. Get in step with that expectation and the agency achieves good chemistry. Get out of step with that expectation and you achieve poor chemistry and that means you lose. Clients never describe it that way, however. They always attribute your not being selected to something you can understand such as size, resources, or creative excellence. But the truth is, it’s usually chemistry. Many so called experts think the agency that wins the account is just the better agency. But once an agency gets into the finals, every agency in the hunt is more than capable to do the work. The deciding factor ends up being who does the client really want to work with.

7. Question: How does an agency spot a client’s profile?

A: There are lots of ways from the way they talk, to the way they dress, to the way they send out requests for information, to the way they decorate their offices, and even how they respond to emails and fill out their online profiles. We help agencies interpret these signals and then modify their team’s strategies to get in step with the client.

8. Question: How does an agency learn this?

A: Usually by taking one of our courses specifically designed for marketing firms of all types. These day-long learning sessions are conducted at an agency’s offices with the key members of an agency’s team. For new business we recommend our Chemistry Wins New Business. If you’re interested in doubling the industry standard client retention rates we suggest you start with High Gear: Shifting Account Management to a New Level.

9. Question: What are these session’s objectives?

A: To teach chemistry and grow your agency. Client retention, new business, how to pitch, it all revolves around people. Nothing will increase an agency’s new business performance or client retention rates, and organic growth more than learning how to get chemistry on its side. We teach to agencies around the world. The reason is simple. Once a client finds an agency that matches their expectations, that agency is typically the one the client feels most comfortable with and the one that ultimately gets more work.

10. Question: How does it work?

A: Profiling helps an agency make all the tactical decisions that go into shaping an agency’s personality or the personality the client sees. And that personality or profile is either in step with a client or out of step. For example, in new business those tactical decisions would include: how to answer the RFP, who to send on the first meeting, what type of questions to ask, how to dress, how to act, the selection of presentation method meaning PowerPoint, charts, boards or hand-outs, where people should sit, what type of refreshments to offer, where to provide lunch and if so, how and what. It covers the very important area of creative, meaning style, packaging, buildup and content such as whether to offer one campaign or three. All of these tactical decisions that agency leaders have to make are quickly answered with the knowledge of profiling. It is the single most important knowledge an agency can learn.


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