Client Services in Business Development

Agency Leadership

I'm excited to get our Director of Client Services, Kate, more involved in new business over the next few months. This initiative has been on my mind for a while but was not a priority. I have a feeling that as this collaboration grows, we'll look back and wonder how we ever operated before.

In an agency (and probably many other businesses), I often see tension between the Sales and Delivery teams. If Sales is doing their job, they're listening to the customer, providing solutions that will help them progress on their goals, and in the end, scoring new business. The tension is not with any of this; it is when those deals land on the delivery team's desks and the questions pour in (sometimes, only in our minds).

Why did Sales commit to this approach? We haven't done this before.

Why did we commit to this timeline? We have no time.

How is this going to help the client's business?

While the Sales team attempts to innovate and better serve customers might be working, the Delivery team feels stuck figuring out how to deliver on those outcomes. Here lies the gap.

Over the years, we've come at this in many different ways, from improving project onboarding to inviting the team into scoping projects to folks like myself working with the team to evolve our process. Some of these efforts have been more successful than others, but I'd argue that few have gotten to the source of the tension.

At Barrel, our Business Development (aka Sales) team's responsibility is to connect with prospective clients, learn about their business, and sign work with them. The purpose of our Client Services team is to provide top-notch service to current clients, understand their business, and increase our value-add through new work.

When you look at it this way, Business Development and Client Services serve a similar purpose and should operate in harmony.

Given Client Service's experience in seeing through the deals that the Business Development team lands, there's a huge opportunity to connect the dots, bringing lessons learned to new projects that will create smoother engagements for our clients and team. Beyond that, getting Client Services involved earlier will continue to streamline the transition for new clients as they get acquainted with our ways of working.

As enthusiastic as I am about Kate's involvement, I'm reluctant to prescribe how to get involved. Kate, Dan (Director of Business Development), and I agreed that having her shadow the process, for now, is a good starting point. I look forward to seeing where we go from here.

This post originally appeared in Edition No. 088 of my newsletter. Subscribe here.

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