Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of spending an hour with a group of men discussing gratitude — its role in our lives, how we should be teaching it to our children, its role in our religion (it was a prayer group) — and that got me to thinking about the role of gratitude in the Client-Agency relationship.
Specifically, it got me to thinking — “How often (or maybe even have you ever) thanked your (speaking to myself) clients for their business, patronage and support?”
I’m ashamed to say that I know I probably thanked them after they signed the contract, or at least the first one. But on a day-to-day basis???? Probably not very often if ever.
And that’s pretty terrible. But not just because it’s boorish and poor form… no it’s pretty terrible because gratitude (as I learned this week) is one of the most powerful relationships forming emotions available to us.
Let me explain.
Gratitude vs Indebtedness
So I wasn’t just discussing gratitude that morning. I was leading the chat since it was my turn to handle the Gospel Reflection. As I was preparing my notes in the days prior, I noticed that one of the other readings actually wasn’t about gratitude as much as it was about indebtedness. So I read up on these two common responses to receiving something valuable from another.
Gratitude is just that. You’re thankful for what was given to you, done for you, etc.
Indebtedness is different. Instead of feeling the positive emotion of gratitude, you feel the negative emotion of debt… you feel that you owe the person something in return for what they gave you or did for you.
So let’s look at the Client/Agency relationship through this lens. And yes, this is gonna be a stretch but stick with me for a bit.
Clients give agencies work/fees. And in return they expect the agency to deliver work for those fees. So one could assume that Agencies feel indebted to their Clients.
From the other side, agencies give their Clients work (and their blood, sweat and sometimes tears) and many likely feel their Clients owe them for all the hard work and care that goes into creating the work for the Client… that in essence, the Client is indebted to the Agency for all that effort.
On the surface, this seems pretty straightforward and normal. Rational even.
BUT if this is how the relationship works, then modern psychology tells us that relationship is likely doomed. More on that in a minute.
One of the main reasons gratitude is such an awesome thing is that not only has practicing it been proven to make you happier, gratitude actually causes people to be attracted to one another.
Yep. When you feel a sense of gratitude towards another person, your natural instinct is to try and draw closer to that person and research shows that it can actually strengthen your relationship with them.
I’m sure the psychologists could explain the science behind it. But I have my own theory.
You’re attracted to the person because they gave without expectation of a return. Reread that sentence because it’s super important.
When you give something to another, you really have to make sure there are no strings attached. You have to make sure they are free to be gracious. That’s the key to using gratitude to build and strengthen your relationships.
But when a person feels indebted, the opposite happens. Research says that person will actually begin to avoid the person who originally did the good deed for them or gave them something of value.
Think about that for a moment.
That’s why I noted earlier that the standard Client/Agency relationship is likely doomed from the start because it’s built on a base of indebtedness vs gratitude. Oh, and in case you missed it, that goes both ways. Both Client and Agency are equally at fault for the subsequent failure.
How Do You Leverage Gratitude To Strengthen The Client-Agency Relationship?
Glad you asked.
I think it’s pretty simple from the Agency side.
First, say thank you more often. AND MEAN IT.
Sure you’re working your ass off for your Clients (at least I hope you are), but don’t expect them to thank you for it. After all, you’re not really doing it for them. You’re doing it for you.
The work you do today begets the work you’ll be hired to do tomorrow.
So when you get right down to it, all that hard work is for yourself as much as your Client. So give it without expectation of any return — well other than payment — because without payment there really is no Agency-Client relationship 😉
Just be truly thankful that they trust you with their brand, their reputation, their sales training, their social media or whatever you do for them. And be thankful that you have the work to do when so many are probably struggling to find the work.
In the end, if you really want a great Agency-Client relationship, just say Thank You. As often and with as much heartfelt meaning as you can.
The rest will take care of itself.
Till next week, go sell greatly.