Transform Yourself

Top 10 templates for highly organised agency account managers

By June 7, 2014 No Comments

 

In a survey among Account Managers in the Linked-in Account Manager Group,”organisational skills” was the fifth most useful skill for an account manager but it’s hard to imagine someone without great organisational skills managing to cope with the job of an advertising agency account manager.

Let me set the scene….

Wednesday 8.45am – You’re on the bus checking your emails. One came in overnight from your client. He wants to brief you today on a landing page that he needs by Friday.

Wednesday 8.47am – While you’re reading the email and thinking about calling him as soon as you get to the office, client number 2 texts you to let you know she’s spotted a typo on the back cover of the conference handout 8 pager you delivered last night. Her boss is due to arrive within 2 days and she needs it changed immediately.

Wednesday 9am – You arrive at your desk and your designer has left some artwork for an advertorial on your desk to sign-off. He’d like it back first thing so he can reach the midday deadline.

Any of that sound familiar?

Being highly organised isn’t optional, it’s essential.

And while being responsive to urgent requests is an inevitable part of the job, the aim should be to pre-plan well enough so that you can spend your valuable time wisely rather than in fire fighting mode.

So here are some of my top templates to use to help you organise yourself:

1. 90 day plan template

Usually developed by you when you first start the job. A simple one to two page document that sets out;
a) Three key objectives agreed with your boss for what you will aim to achieve in the next 3 months
b) Each objective broken down into three actions highlighting how you will achieve that objective
c) Some rough timings for when each action will be completed

Why you need this:

When you start a new job you will usually have a 3 month performance review. The person who hires you will have an expectation of how they want you to perform, where they want you to spend your time, who they want you to build relationships with, etc. If you don’t agree some clear objectives from the beginning you’re in danger of spending your time in the completely wrong areas, doing the opposite of what they want you to. You might think you’re doing a great job! But at the 3 month review you might be disappointed with the feedback.

2. Client development plan template

A Client Development Plan is one of the key documents to help you manage and grow the client relationship. It’s your road map for ensuring you understand your client, their needs and where you will be going with the account in the future.

Why you need this:

This document will help build your confidence as it helps you ask the right questions about the client’s business, increases your chance of being successful in your role by helping you identify the client’s most important challenges, enables you to show how organised you are with a document you can complete and present to your internal team as well as use over and over for all your clients.

3. Contact report template

Things move very quickly when you’re managing a project and indeed the account. A contact report is a simple document capturing all actions from a client meeting or call. It’s developed by the account manager within 24 hours of a meeting, circulated internally for agreement and then forwarded to the client for approval. It details subject, action, who will do it and when. It isn’t the minutes of a meeting so doesn’t contain every single detail of what was said. It’s the highlights and particularly actions. It is succinct and to the point.

Why you need this:
Contact reports are useful to remind each party of what was agreed, particularly when conversations have gone off in tangents. It’s useful to reference back to if anyone doesn’t follow through with the agreed actions and also serves to inform those who weren’t present what was agreed.

4. New client check-list template

When working with a client for the first time, it’s essential to capture all the information about the client you’ll need quickly so that you can set up the account and hit the ground running. This two-page check-list will ensure everything is covered from client names, addresses and preferred method of communication to operational plans, artwork files and brand books.

Why you need this:
It’s a huge waste of time if you don’t request all relevant client information prior to kicking off a project. The client may not have it to hand themselves and therefore a clear, detailed list avoids wasted follow up time.

5. Status report template

If you’re juggling several clients it’s easy for bits of information to slip off the list. Most account managers have a detailed ‘to do’ list but this isn’t helpful when you are managing your team. Your agency may use a proprietary project management software to track the project’s status through the agency or an off the shelf solution such as Basecamp.  My personal favourite for smaller agencies is Asana. Super simple to use and allows for multiple users.

If you’re not using software, simply capture all actions in a simple Excel template so nothing slips off the list and you can circulate it weekly to your team. That way everyone from your designer to the client knows exactly what’s happening; what action has been completed, what is the next action, who needs to do it and by when.

Why you need this:
Multiple projects = multiple ways of screwing up if you’re not super organised. A status report helps you track actions and keeps everyone informed. All super account managers need one.

6. Strategic Review template

A short succinct template to evaluate the success and any challenges of completed projects. This template is useful to have in a presentation format like Powerpoint or Keynote so that once you’ve quickly captured your findings, you can then present the results back to your internal team or to your client. A strategic review helps you identify areas for agency process improvements.

Why you need this:
Too often once a project is finished we are keen to move straight on to the next one but do you know if the completed project was truly profitable? How will you cost a similar project in the future? Do you think you and your agency team could do anything differently next time to ensure a similar project goes more smoothly?

The strategic review is an opportunity to stop, reflect, evaluate and then make any adjustments to your way of working before going on to the next thing.

Sometimes as an agency account manager you might feel things in your agency could work better, maybe you think your agency’s processes could do with a complete overhaul?  In this case, you could use the strategic review process as your opportunity to impartially evaluate a project and present your analysis to the agency’s senior management team with recommendations for how to address the issues you identify. This happened on one of my workshops and in this video I explain why it was my advice to her.

7. Run a superb meeting template

A guide to how to run a meeting including how to prepare, what to do during a meeting and how to follow up. An ‘early distributed’ agenda also helps you structure your meeting well and prepares everyone in advance.

Why you need this:
In this video I explain a simple model ‘PALACE’ you can follow to ensure that you impress your client every time you meet by running through a simple action checklist. In the past I admit I got sloppy and failed to ensure I had everything ready – needless to say arriving to find out you can’t connect your laptop to the client’s presentation room screen and forgetting to take a back up copy isn’t impressive so don’t put yourself in a similar position. 😉

8. Performance review template

If you’re in charge of a team you’ll probably be asked at some point to carry out performance reviews usually once every 6 months or yearly. This can be quite daunting, particularly if you’ve never done it before. You’ll want to have a copy of the team member’s job description and be able to measure it against performance parameters. A template for the process is essential and will help guide you through what you need to do before, during and after the meeting.

Why you need this:
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you’re going through this process for the first time is to underestimate the potential negative affect your actions can have on the motivation levels of your report. You probably know yourself that a badly executed review meeting can be devastating. Common mistakes you could make are; cancelling/moving a pre-arranged performance review meeting without giving a very good explanation, unintentionally saying something critical that is interpreted in the wrong way and that leaves the person feeling de-motivated or talking too much and not letting your report speak and feel heard.

As you probably know well yourself, people are highly sensitive when they think they are going to receive feedback about their performance. It’s essential a performance review is handled delicately and executed flawlessly. The potential cost to the company of getting this wrong is losing that person.

9. Client/Agency review template

How are you evaluating the strength of your client relationships on a six monthly or yearly basis? Do you have a formal process in place? Some agencies use a net promoter score to get a quick ‘temperature check’ on the relationship i.e. the client scores the agency using a simple 1-10 score for a list of service performance criteria.

While this can be effective to flag any issues, it doesn’t replace the need for a thorough evaluation of the strength of the relationship where someone from the agency (usually the client service director) sits down face to face with the client to ask questions and ask for feedback.

Broadly the questions are often ‘can opener’ type that stimulate a discussion i.e. what’s going well, and what needs improvement.

Why you need this:
There are a couple of key reasons the client-agency evaluation process is so beneficial;

1. It can create the perfect opportunity to understand the client’s future plans for their business and so enable the agency to identify potential opportunities to provide services to support them and

2. If the agency leadership team is looking to sell the agency, the value of the agency is based on the strength of the client relationships and so a thorough evaluation of the relationship can identify any issues and ensure they have the opportunity to address them quickly.

This process can also be carried out by an independent expert third party like Relationship Audits and management who have years of experience and proprietary evaluation and benchmarking tools.

10. Email phrases templates

It’s always better to pick up the phone and speak to your client directly when you need to communicate anything relating to the relationship or tackling an awkward situation e.g. you expect to deliver a project late and need to inform the client whose expecting it earlier or the project has run over budget and you need to explain it etc, but if you’re stuck for words it’s useful to have some pre-worded phrases you can use in emails to fall back on.

You can build up this list yourself from your own emails or borrow from other templates. Here’s a great article talking about how to avoid misusing email templates.

Other tips for using emails include keeping it short and to the point. There’s a great little Chrome extension called Tinymails you can use that tells you approximately how long it is going to take to read your email. This ensures you keep it succinct – no better way to upset a busy client than to write a huge email. If it’s too long, consider calling and then following up with some summary bullet points.

Another great little tool for sending emails is Boomerang. This superb little Chrome extension helps you schedule emails to send at a later time. For example you may be working over the weekend and catching up on email but you don’t want your client to receive the email on a Saturday or Sunday and therefore decide to schedule it to go out on Monday instead.

Why you need this:
Emails are still a big part of the way we as agency account managers correspond with our clients and we want to be as efficient as possible. Short phrases or covering emails you use when sending proposals over to clients are repeatable.

 

Which templates do you use that are your most useful? Can you add more to this list? Please leave a comment below.