Agency pros share their experiences and insights for running client reporting meetings that are productive and actionable.
Agencies | Jan 15
Kevin Kononenko on October 26, 2018 • 9 minute read
“From my background, I knew that reporting wasn’t a waste of time. It’s really important, but you’ve got to collect the right information.
I actually didn’t do reporting off the bat. Pre-Databox, I just didn’t do reporting.
Most of our clients now have access to Databox. We implement HubSpot with most of our clients straight away, so Databox has been a game changer for them, as it opens up visibility into their business.”
-Charles McKay, CEO of Synx
I actually didn’t do reporting off the bat. We implement HubSpot with most of our clients straight away, so that is really a game changer for them. That opens up visibility into their business.
But pre-Databox, I just didn’t do reporting. It would be: Implementation, Project Plan, etc. We would just cover simple metrics without getting too deep.
Most of our clients now have access to Databox. Like most technology, user adoption is the hard part. But, we’ve set it up internally for all of our retainer clients. We have client-facing dashboards and we have some internally facing dashboards as well.
Brian introduced me to leading/lagging measurements. Now, we’ve internally deployed leading indicators and then our clients see the lagging indicators because that’s all they care about, as much as we try and focus on leading indicators. So when they go, “Why is traffic down?”, we say, “Your leading indicator says you’ve only published one blog this month or you only have a few ads running.” So that’s how we split it up now.
I actually found that we were trying to set goals far too early with the client. That actually can become a problem because if they’re not used to it, there’s no point forcing them into things that they’re not used to. I try to educate and empower rather than push what we want.
Generally, we will go in and deploy as many quick wins as we can. And then once we introduce those, we’ll also have deployed Databox and have the data to present. Then we can generally work towards a goal. So once we’ve got that baseline metric, we can then look forward and reverse engineer the goal to set these quarterly goals in place.
We determine the goals based on the individual client. Very rarely is it, “We want new visitors.” or “We want more leads.”
It’s more likely “The website’s not performing” or “Visitor to lead metrics are wrong” or “Lead to customer metrics are wrong” or full funnel metrics. That’s the ultimate goal- we want to look at the journey from first touch to customer, all of the metrics through the funnel. Then what are the activities that need to happen to move someone through those stages?
This part is further down the process now. It was too early before.
We reverse engineer the numbers. So once they come up with a figure or a number, we reverse engineer off their data. This opens up their eyes a hell of a lot and then they start to trust the process a bit more after that. They realize that we’ve got to do some of these fundamentals first. You need to focus on those pieces before we start getting into full-on demand generation and stuff like that.
Let’s say their sales process is broken. Let’s fix that. If the sales guys aren’t entering the data, that’s a fundamental problem. If you want to do this stuff, we need to have everyone entering the data properly. That’s a really common one.
A lot of our work is to “seed and grow” the client as well. Solve their problem with that small activity, then build trust and keep feeding them with new ways of doing things. Sales teams are always an interesting challenge and that’s actually one thing I do love about the HubSpot CRM: it’s user-friendly first. It’s not management first. You can actually get people to use it which is pretty rare.
“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” Until you get a client to actually understand that there’s a problem, it’s really hard to help them. We’ve been working internally on some simple things to get clients to understand that there’s a problem and that needs to be worked on rather than us telling them that this is a massive problem.
I like to see it as an opportunity as opposed to an issue. It’s like, “what are the opportunities we have?” And then we build out a roadmap for the client as well, which they start to see getting ticked off.
First, we set up the infrastructure. If they are missing simple stuff, like personas, we’ve got to get done. If the website really sucks, then we will go and fix it.
Then we’ll pull the data in and say, your visitor-to-lead conversion is terrible. You need some more assets. That’s when we go into quarterlies. We will ask:
Ideally, you would focus at the bottom of the funnel. If that’s a problem, if they’re not getting conversions there, we start there and we work our way up. That’s where we are visualizing data with Databox, using annotations, and adding a recommendation at a high level on our boards. Ideally, then they’ll see those spikes based on our activity.
If we are talking about an annual timeframe, I would expect them to present us the three goals for the year. Then from that, we would make our recommendations for the next 12 months.
Then quarterly we would sit down and review what’s working, what’s not, and whether we need to adjust what we’re doing. We work on these quarterly cycles. Not so much monthly anymore. We can’t get enough done in a month.
Every month, we have an internal series of meetings and then a series of meetings with clients. During client meetings, we make sure that we’re moving the needle, getting feedback and that sort of stuff. We also use the scorecard feature in Databox. We can’t put exactly every goal that we would like for every single client in there. But, you can get a good feel.
If there are red flags, I would expect the account managers to go in and find three or four quick wins. Call them the “one percenters” if you like. We’re always adding value to a client when you meet with them. We’re not just talking about what we’ve already executed on. I call it “future pacing”. What’s the stuff that we can be forward selling for next year? We want to be adding value all the time by trying to simplify it, not make it into a huge, big, complicated task. There’s always something that we can be doing for them.
I played a lot of sport as a kid. I was quite a good runner. I was about 13, 14 and I’d had a bit of success as a young guy. Then I lost a race and my ego was getting into my head a bit. I was probably not training as hard as I should. Anyway, we set a plan and we executed on it and when you look at it, the “leading indicator” is all the training and work you do. The lag indicator is the race and the outcome of it.
So with clients, we do exactly that. I know leading indicators are actually really hard to build out unless you have it on a chalkboard or a whiteboard or something like that. We’ve gotten pretty close by doing it in Databox.
I like thinking about “activities versus outcome”. Simple as that. Most people report on outcomes. They don’t report on the activity and that is generally because of the lack of technology. Or they don’t use the systems properly. If you’re going to be tracking leading indicators, the team needs to be using the systems properly. Once we have problems with clients and we show them the leading indicators, it removes every problem that we have as a business when we didn’t deliver something. It proves that there are internal people issues within the client.
It comes down to the stages of the customer journey. Then we look into the sales process.
You can’t present all of this in client notes. It’s just too overwhelming. When the client is not getting results, you can actually bring it in as evidence like, “You want to generate $4,000,000 but you’re only investing X. You need to focus some more on this activity and that opens them up to that sort of conversation.”
Making the data look good is really important and simple to do. I’m really happy with the Goals piece. I went and deployed a whole heap of them and now I’ve got so many in lots of different areas which we’re going to clean up. I really like that you can have a dashboard of all of your clients and their core goals and where they’re tracking.
I also like the annotations. It’s really handy to annotate when things have been done. For example, we can make a tick when we launch a new website. I think the visualization, the annotations, and the goals would be the three things.
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