Last week I wrote how you form a stronger, more lasting, bond with your clients by balancing the points of connection at every step, like doing up a zip.

Each part gets meshed with its opposite part.

And that extends to the people working on the relationship too.

That often means a change is needed in how the agency founder connects with clients.

Founders are frequently practitioners, by background, who run in eagerly to a new client and connect with the practitioners on the other side. But your team are also connecting with them, and so all your connections end up at that level.

A key part of the founder 'stepping up' as the agency grows is becoming stakeholder-level in relationships with clients.

You're a CEO. Connect with the CEO-equivalent on the client side.

That very senior stakeholder who won't be involved in the project, but has the power to helicopter in and change everything.

Your most important personal contribution to winning bigger, better, longer-lasting client relationships is being able to make that connection right at the top, the very last level of the zip.

Maintain this connection all the way through the relationship. For example, in pitches, project updates, and so on I urge founders, if they go to them, not to stand and present with their team.

Sit on the client side.

Your team should be trained and experienced enough to handle the agency side. You are there as the peer of the senior people, their wise adviser. Your contributions should be mainly smart questions, including to your own team.

A significant tick for our bid in one big project for a global brand came in the Q&A at the end of the pitch when I asked my team a critical question the client hadn't thought of, but highlighted a significant risk in the project — and of course my team gave a perfect answer. This demonstrated to the client that we weren't just going to follow instructions, we were going to guide them all the way.

This week, think about how well you're connected to the top top people in your existing clients and prospects. How you position yourself as their equal.

How can you strengthen those peer-peer senior connections? How can you ensure that you are seen as an equal?

How can you do the client-agency zipper up all the way to the top?