This is most commonly given answer by most agencies to their client when asked, “Does your agency have XXXX capability. It’s often said with a modicum of disdain and surprise that the client would even ask such a question. After all, do they not know that we are experts at everything?
I often wonder if we would have the same reaction to our general practitioner if he/she told us that, although we have a heart condition that needs specialist treatment, there is no need to refer us to a specialist as he/she are quite capable of handling the situation? I believe that we all know the answer.
But, is it really in the clients’ interest to tell them that we can handle the work if, in fact, we do not have at least a competitive capability in that discipline? Just because you have one person in that department, or a couple of people on the team, who have had similar experience at another agency, does that make your agency the right solution?
Of course, if we look at the question purely from an agency financial perspective, I can understand the perspective that we need all the revenue we can get to make our numbers. I can also understand the fear of allowing another agency into the equation that might end up usurping your current agency relationship and revenue. All such concerns are valid…if you only look at it from a partisan agency perspective.
If we covet those clients who see us and treat us as “strategic partners” then we need to behave in similar way. If the client requires best in class capability in that specific expertise, we need to ask ourselves if in fact we can deliver it through internal resources. If the answer is honestly “yes” – then go right ahead.
If the answer is honestly “no”, then you have two choices.
The first is to find a suitable company or resource that you can partner with on the assignment. This way all coordination and responsibility remains with your agency and you are accountable to the client. Try to negotiate a discounted partner fee that will allow you to cover your coordination and strategic support costs. My suggestion is to avoid marking their fees up when billing the client.
The second is to either partner with another client roster agency that has the required capability or partner with the client to source a new agency resource. Remember that the strength of your agency relationship is often tightly linked to the work and results you produce for that client. Why risk the whole relationship and all that revenue for the sake of chasing after something that may reflect badly on you. IT MAY JUST BE MORE PROFITABLE TO LET THAT PORTION GO OR AT LEAST MAKE A LITTLE LESS MARGIN ON IT.