End of contract: How to build a business case for continuing the agency-client relationship

1 Jun

For agencies, a successful renewal has the potential to reinvigorate your client relationships. It’s a chance to emphasize the value of social, learn more about your client’s future strategy and share your vision for the road ahead. That said, nailing this opportunity to express your value can rightfully bring on some nerves.

Client renewal conversations can be challenging, but if you’re confident in the work you’ve done, then it’s all a matter of preparation. Shake out your nerves, and use the following tips to build a strategic, quantitative business case for continuing your agency-client relationship. 

Nearing the end of a contract term isn’t the end of the world

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Renewal calls offer agencies a chance to educate clients on how social impacts key metrics across their business. Lean into the teaching opportunity and keep building on the relationship you’ve established with your great work. 

It’s all a matter of preparation. Take time to review all your conversations and efforts from the ending contract term to determine what proof points will be most impactful during the renewal process. Once that’s done, create an updated proposal and get ready to expand your services in meaningful ways.

How to prepare for client renewal conversations

We spoke with Katie Dubow, President of Garden Media Group, winners of our 2020 Always Be Growing Sprout Partner Value Award, for tips on how to prepare for successful client renewal conversations. Here’s what she had to say: 

Be proactive

Retaining a client is much easier than finding new business, so invest in planning. Be proactive and start renewal conversations early so you have time to find opportunities to wow your client as their contract nears its end. 

“About three months before the contract renewal date, we start conversations internally,” says Dubow. “What do we have left in the budget that we haven’t completed? How can we continue to knock it out of the park in these last three months? Are there free reports, bonus posts or anything else we can deliver to the client to exceed expectations?”

Strengthen your case by hosting a separate call to discuss past performance and future goals. Use the information you receive to ensure that your renewal proposal covers all the client’s most pressing goals and concerns. 

Dubow advises scheduling the renewal conversation with time to spare. “When working on social media for clients we try and plan two months in advance so the editorial calendar can be completed and ideally there is no hiccup in service.”

Manage expectations

According to Dubow, managing expectations is the best way to make a strong case for ongoing client renewals. “You should know during the months of work if you have a strong case for renewal.” 

Great agencies lay the groundwork for retention from the very beginning. Communicating openly about the full scope of deliverables—including any potential risks or pitfalls—can help you take control of a situation if things don’t go as planned. 

Do this by identifying any potential roadblocks to success as soon as possible. Your clients rely on you to be the expert, so they might not know what information you need to meet and exceed their social goals. Ask thoughtful questions, provide regular reporting, and don’t expect your clients to understand the nitty-gritty details of your service offerings right off the bat. 

Go the extra mile

It’s the little things that can elevate your agency from a service provider to a partner. Outcomes matter, but what leaves a lasting impression is the experience you deliver to your clients.

Dubow’s advice? “Do your job, do it well and do it with as little lift from the client as possible.” 

“After you’ve nailed that part, don’t forget to make each client feel special. Even if the ‘gift’ you’re offering is for all clients, make your clients feel like they are part of your business community and vice versa.”

These gestures don’t have to be extravagant. It could be a simple birthday card or a small gift to celebrate the launch of a major campaign. Ensure all your packages come with the white glove service needed to make your agency indispensable, and renewal conversations will be in your favor. 

4 social media reports that can strengthen your case for renewal

When building a business case for client renewals, sharing reports is only half the battle. Demonstrate your effectiveness by framing your client reports in the context of their overarching business goals and the impact social drives. The following reports can help you gather the metrics you’ll need to position yourself as a necessary partner in your client’s success. 

Audience growth and engagement

Awareness and engagement metrics align with several social media goals. An audience growth report that trends upward will always translate to a job well done.  

Take this performance report to the next level by digging into the spikes and dips. What content drives the most action? What does that say about audience preferences? The more in-depth findings you can share, the more valuable your services become. 

Sprout's Cross Channel Performance Report

Sprout users can leverage the Profile Performance Report, which provides a high-level aggregate of performance data across multiple channels, to frame renewal conversations. Start with the big picture, then drill down into areas of success and growth opportunities. 

Customer responsiveness 

Social media management services don’t hit pause when the clock strikes 5 p.m. Seventy-seven percent of consumers expect brands to respond within 24 hours of a message, according to new research conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Sprout Social. For agencies, maintaining high standards of engagement on social may be a given, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy work. 

Show that your agency is uniquely positioned to keep up with your client’s audience with Sprout’s suite of Internal Reports. Use the Inbox Team Report specifically to show just how quickly customers can expect a response when they reach out on the accounts you manage.  

Sprout's Inbox Team Report

Brand share of voice

On social, brand share of voice measures how much your client is dominating the conversation in their industry. Beyond gauging brand visibility, a healthy share of voice demonstrates the time, skill and strategy that your team has put into your client’s social media presence. 

Sprout’s Competitive Analysis Listening Performance Report calculates share of voice by dividing the number of messages sent within a topic by the number of those messages containing specific brand mentions. The report measures share of voice estimates for your clients and their top competitors. 

Sprout's Competitive Analysis Performance Listening Report

Using social listening tools to go beyond traditional monitoring practices demonstrates the value of your services and partnership. As an agency, you can surface unparalleled insights into the conversations happening not just around clients’ brand but around their industry as a whole, driving smarter marketing decisions that generate results. 

Brand sentiment

Sentiment data speaks volumes, quantifying how people feel about a business. In today’s world, emotions are the number one factor in making purchase decisions. Positive feelings toward a brand can directly support revenue growth. 

Sprout's Listening Performance Sentiment Summary

If you’ve helped clients navigate and respond to crises on social, sentiment analysis is a great way to prove your impact. Use it to compare how brand sentiment has changed or rebounded as a result. Pair these insights with a customer responsiveness report to highlight the tangible fruits of your brand management efforts. 

Make your case with confidence

To make a successful business case for a client renewal, you’ll need a winning combination of qualitative and quantitative proof. Reflect on your work and what makes your social media services a cut above the rest. When it’s time to crunch the numbers, download our Social Media Metrics Map to find the stats you need to showcase your impact. 

 

The post End of contract: How to build a business case for continuing the agency-client relationship appeared first on Social Media Insights.

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