Account Handlers. They’re always there. Making coffee, laughing at the client’s jokes… But what’s actually going on in their heads?
I’ve asked Guest Suit - a senior account handler at a Top 20 London agency – to come back and straighten a few things out for me. (N.B. this is a real interview, not one of those comedy ones.)
Scamp: You guys are supposed to be the 'make it happen' people… so how come in reality you behave more like the 'No' department?
Guest Suit: I can understand that it may feel that way to creatives. It's your job to come up with ideas, and inevitably, not every single one is going to be right for that piece of business at that time, so we do have to say no quite a lot.
Scamp: Why can't you just take the idea to the client and let the client be the judge?
Guest Suit: That wouldn't be doing our job. We’re not just there to jump up and down clapping our hands like seals when you show us the work, you know. In reality, the client briefs us on what they want, and they expect us to get it for them. They don't want us to bring them things they don't want. If we did that, we would quite soon have no clients. However, we do work for the agency – the agency pays our salary, not the clients - so we're always trying to sell the best possible work, that they will buy.
Scamp: Why do clients so often ask for 'more than one route'?
Guest Suit: They don't like to be painted into a corner. And they want the best chance possible of seeing work that is right. The fact is that what we do isn't a science. There is always more than one answer. One may be more right than another, but there are always different ways to go. It's a game of subjective judgements and the clients like to be able to participate in that judging too.
Scamp: What can creatives do to help get their idea sold?
Guest Suit: Lots. Collaborate with the account team along the way - take them on the journey that you're going on and listen to concerns, barriers and issues as they arise. They're unlikely to go away. Present your work to them in the same way that you would expect them to present it to the client. Give them the strategic rationale, the creative leap, visual reference, everything.
Scamp: Do you treat all creatives the same?
Guest Suit: Probably not. After all, no one treats everyone the same way. There are people you like more than others and your attitude and actions towards them will vary accordingly. Friendliness and an appearance that you're listening and being reasonable goes a long way to getting an account team on your side.
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