The Great Client Partner

The Great Client Partner is your guide to honing your soft skills to complement your technical expertise, making you ready to lead large teams, innovate, and build trust with your clients and internal and external stakeholders. When you master this rare combination of hard and soft skills, there’s no limit to how far your career can go.

The Reviews

Are In!


"I have learned so much from Jared over the years, and I'm grateful he has taken the time to provide a framework for sharing lessons learned from a career on the marketing frontlines in the most disruptive period in history."

Bryan Wiener
CEO of ComScore and former Chairman and CEO of 360i

"With The Great Client Partner, Jared Belsky has managed to distill a lifetime of hard-won knowledge into a collection of eminently readable and profoundly practical lessons for professionals at any stage of their career. The Great Client Partner delivers lessons that are applicable far beyond the world of traditional account leadership and client services­­—anyone who reports to a boss, or who works on a team, can learn a thing or two from this book."

Abbey Klaassen
360i President, NY

The Great Client Partner

What is a great client partner and what does a client partner do? Client partners advise and support clients, offering ideas and strategies to help achieve their business goals while also driving company revenue. They develop strategic plans that align with client priorities and emphasize solutions that improve revenue. They are trusted advisors.

"Great client partners are not born, they are made through study, training and practice."

Great client partners and client facing agency folks have a set of abilities essential to working with and inspiring others, including trust building, persuasion, time management, principled negotiation, and active listening.


The industry needed a book that would break key soft skills down into digestible lessons on hard-to learn, but critical to understand topics. Let me share what inspired the book with you.

Not too long ago, I was having lunch with a colleague in the advertising industry who told me a story about a rock and a watermelon who get in a fight. He says that no matter whether the watermelon hits the rock or the rock hits the watermelon, the watermelon is going to be on the wrong end of the fight.

And so it goes for folks in the agency, services, and consulting business, right?

Well, I don’t think so. I believe clients want partners, not simply service. I believe clients don’t want to just be the rock, making all the decisions, ordering you around, pulverizing you into a smashed watermelon. I believe clients want their account managed, not just whims catered to. I believe that great agency folks are an extension of great client teams. I believe a Great Account Leader can revolutionize their own agency and the clients they are privileged to work with.

There are almost 11 million people in the United States who exist in some sort of client services role, and arguably 50 million or more who could classify themselves as being in the pursuit of something very related. It is to them that this book is dedicated. Best as I can tell on Amazon, there are almost 5,000 books written on being a better lawyer and 19,000 books on how to hang a shower curtain. Curiously, I can only find a handful of books—under five—on how to be a better Account Manager or Client Services Leader.

This book is about strategic longer-term account management that happens at advertising agencies, consulting firms, technology companies and tons of places in between. It is written not for the person who wants to get better at servicing accounts, but rather the person interested in being the ultimate trusted advisor to clients and customers…and driving business.
So, why are there so few books written to guide account managers, aspiring or tenured, to further greatness? Why is there so little written about this field?

The answer to that question is based on a simple misconception—that this field of Account Management is entirely intuitive. It’s as if the thought leaders have determined this is a subject that can’t be taught. You are born a trusted advisor or you’re not. Right?

Great account managers were told at young ages that we naturally understood people. We were told we were charismatic and energizing. We were told we were “People Persons.”

We were told that we put others at ease, that we could sell ice to an Eskimo, or that we were well-organized out of the womb.

And we were told that these were “soft skills.” Because these things come so “easy” to us, we got brainwashed into thinking the talents were innate. We assumed, often with jealousy, that our friends with engineering degrees were smarter and more important.

Further, the “creatives”—people who design, write copy, shoot film, etc.—of the agency world get applauded for their choice of color and angles and choices of tones, scripts, and emotional impact. People remark that the Cannes Lion (one of the top awards a creative can win) was a product of years of refinement of their craft. [AR4]

Meanwhile, the data scientists of the world get applauded for the statistical rigor they employ to create that diminishing returns curve, or that wizard-like algorithm. The operations folks get kudos for finding 26% more efficiency in bringing Y to market. These are tangible outputs, and therefore the inputs seem, on the surface, to be more readily trainable.

Alas, for the aspiring Account Leader, we can’t get no satisfaction…but we try. We are given those backhanded compliments about our organizational skills, our leadership orientation, and our ability to relate to and handle a lot of different personalities.

Executives the world over try to streamline functions and invest more in experts, or confuse these abilities with production or even project management. Project management is only about keeping the trains moving. That’s important, but it’s also just more one-dimensionality. Being a trusted advisor is multi-dimensional.

The truth is, these raw and essential qualities that make up the Great Account Leader are in fact very real, and they’re most definitely difficult to learn—and even harder to teach. A great account person is truly someone who can differentiate an agency/consultancy or company in the eyes of a client. I reject the idea that anyone is born with these skills. They most assuredly are nurtured, taught, and trained.

Over the years, I have been asked the question a thousand times….what makes an account leader great? I got curious and started exploring the question. That exploration became the start of this book.

At the end of the day, what makes a great account person is the ability to deal with the hard things, to anticipate those complex moments, and to work around them successfully, in such a way that others wouldn’t even know they had been there. Navigating those moments are what define your career in account management. That’s when account leaders earn their paycheck—sometimes for the entire year in one great moment. This is the fundamental difference between a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and an account leader. The SME must be very good every hour of every day. The account leader, meanwhile, has to deal with an emotional roller coaster of hard things that come out of the blue, and seemingly just when things feel to be totally calm.

Some examples of those hard things:

  1. How to have a conversation with a client about fees that they think you are too high.
  2. How to tell an all-star employee they’re acting like a punk.
  3. How to tell a client you over-spent their budget by $220K. Oops.
  4. How to tell your creative partner their idea stinks worse than old milk.
  5. How to recognize when your product or service is crap and the market beat you.
  6. How to listen for signals that an RFP is coming.
  7. How to convey bad news to your boss faster than good news.
  8. How to indirectly influence creative, production, sales, product, exec mngt, media et al.

Ultimately, too many books are written for when it’s 72 degrees and sunny. In account management, most days it’s hailing, with a tornado on the horizon, and it’s humid as all hell. This book is for those of us out there in the heat. Practice, repeat…and most of all, teach some young 23-year-old named Billy how to do this—and remind him it’s not simply innate, but something that can be learned and refined.