Why do agencies need to be trusted advisers to their clients?

The trap for many agency folk is they run faster, work harder, work longer and then achieve significantly less. This is expensive in many ways. The danger is our autopilot reinforces our focus on delivering, or ‘doing the do’ as I call it, in other words doing what we’re comfortable with. When we’re focused so heavily on delivering it’s easy to forget to take time to really think, to prioritise, to be proactive, to be a trusted adviser. As a trusted adviser to our clients we are able to provide strategic insights, great proposals which help grow our clients’ businesses and have challenging business conversations. As a trusted adviser, clients turn to us first.

For many in agencies there is a discomfort around ‘sales’ and ‘selling’. It can be  seen by some as manipulative, pushing what the client doesn’t want and just in it for the ‘sale’. That’s very poor selling. To me great ‘sales’ is when the client comes back for more and more, they are delighted with what they’ve bought, they see us as a true partner and they recommend our services to others.

Stop selling, help your client to buy.

It’s not about hard sales. It’s about helping the client solve a problem, enjoy an improvement or tap into an opportunity.

We become a trusted adviser when we collaborate with clients providing strategic direction, have great ballsy business conversations with senior client decision makers and provide value by the bucketload impacting the client’s business.

My agency clients tell me they are using my Trusted Adviser Selling workshop to seriously grow their business especially with existing clients and also to win new clients. They use the workshop to kickstart their growth plans.

I’m encouraging the smart ones to see their clients as investment opportunities. They, the agency, decide where and how much time and effort to invest into the best of those investment opportunities.

It’s the agency’s decision to decide where to spend their time and money, not the client’s. It’s the agency’s choice. (I appreciate it’s sometimes not quite as simple as that.) Given the most expensive part of running an agency is the salary bill, it is critical that time is not wasted and that your people think carefully where they allocate their time. Accountability of time is vital.

The right mindset is vital for a trusted adviser. They need to see themselves having peer to peer relationships with their clients, especially the senior clients. As part of this they need to be able to have serious business conversations and be able to talk BUSINESS, not just the agency’s discipline.


Let’s not forget that. There’s should be no embarrassment at being a commercial business. We are here to make money/profit whilst helping our clients do exactly the same. The more the agency impacts the client’s business, the more the client will buy from the agency.

No pathetic excuses such as the client said “blue sky thinking, don’t be constrained by budget” or “we don’t have specific metrics or KPIs” or “You don’t need a brief, you know what we need having worked with us for 5 years” The days of agencies being ‘Yes’ people and simply delivering are over and if they aren’t, they will be very soon.

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