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Agency Growth Series – Keeping Clients Happy AND Creating Margin: Goal-Based Account Management

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One of my first jobs out of school was working in a call center for a bank. The customer service desk – typically people with lost cards, querying debits, changes of address, that sort of thing. What struck me as odd was how despite being there principally to help people, all of our targets were sales based. I was outraged. Sell to people? We’re supposed to be helping them. 

Fast forward a decade or so and after years of plying my trade in digital marketing, I was making a switch to client services. The reason? I wanted to be that much closer to the client – I had an eye for opportunities and I wanted to be able to sell them directly to the people I was helping. Somehow, sales now sat at the centre of how I understood what it means to help people.

Doing more to help inevitably means selling something

So how does that happen? Honestly, the transition is not really much of a story. I am naturally inclined towards helping people. I want to understand their needs, then help them fulfill those needs. The ‘transition’ is just that at 18, I didn’t realise that actually was sales. 

Given my predisposition, the move from digital marketing to client services was inevitable. As a junior DM, under the command of my account team, I’d dutifully take clients through reports, trudging from metric-to-metric, % shifts up and down on every little thing. 

“Any questions?”

Silence and glassy stares. 

This can’t be right. What we’re doing is exciting. “Any questions?” is where the meeting should really get going, not fizzle out. I couldn’t bear it any longer.

What we needed was to change the way we told our stories. Focus on the metrics that our clients could both understand and care about – then make meetings a forum for creativity and problem solving. What followed is what we called goal-based account management. The main tenets were:

Metrics that matter

Agree on 1-3 key metrics that would have the most meaningful impact

Where can we play

Understand the client’s limitations and the outer reaches of their comfort zone

Goals before platforms

No arbitrary limitations on where we spend, the time and money goes where the results are best 

Be inventive

Always look for new ways to leverage existing platforms and adopt new platforms and opportunities

If ROAS is good, scale

If the results are good, we will always look to push and see how far we can take it

Trust above all else

The single most important requirement. Hard earned, easy lost. We will own our mistakes and be honest when the answer is ‘no’ or ‘spend less money with us’.

Reporting = pitching

Every report shows the important metrics, then springboards into the new opportunities we’ve identified.


Formalising goal-based account management in our pod of digital marketers, client servicers, designers, and devs had a transformative impact. A single minded focus on just the most important metrics meant a universal understanding of what we were trying to do. It enabled us to discuss, as a team, the 5,000 foot view of the account and how to do more. Our reports weren’t salesy, they were collaborative. 

“Are we on track?” 

“Yes, now here’s how we want to scale that success.” 

We spoke often about the need and the importance of building trust, but honestly problem solving in the room with our clients did more to build and maintain trust and relationships than anything else we did.

Over the course of 18 months our pod grew its modest book of business to be the largest in the agency. Our approach developed and we gradually systemised how to induct our accounts from point-of-entry, build trust, migrate thinking to goal-based account management, and grow.

Cover the metrics that matter, then collaborate on opportunities

In time, the agency developed Morphio to fill the gap in our tech-stack. It made it easier for us to bring clients around to a metrics-that-matter approach. A transparent goals-first platform that kept us focused on the right things but that was also easy for clients to understand. The more time we could save in our reporting, the more time it gave us to discuss opportunities going forward.

If you run a goal-based digital marketing agency or if the tenets of goal-based account management resonated with you, then reach out, because we’d love to hear your story. Morphio was made for performance marketers and designed around the principle that we are all providing the most value when we’ve got time to think, to be creative, and to solve problems. 

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