Why Technology Agencies Should Be Opinionated

Zack Rosen , Co-Founder & CEO October 16, 2014 Reading estimate: 2 minutes

Sometimes I hear Drupal and WordPress agencies say something to the effect of “That’s not my decision to make” or “I don’t have an opinion” when their clients are making important technology purchasing decisions such as evaluating a website platform like Pantheon.

There are some cases where it can be important for a consultant to abstain (a conflict of interest, for example) but it almost always benefits everyone when agencies form and share clear opinions with their clients.

Here’s why:

Agencies often have the most experience to draw from.

What’s the sample size of technology purchasing decisions that play out at an agency vs with a single company? Chances are, if you’re a web development professional, you’ve seen many more outcomes than your clients have—and can run down a list of benefits and drawbacks for each.

This experience is invaluable to a client that’s making a big platform purchase and needs insight to draw from. If you have the most data in a decision, it is absolutely in your client’s interest for you to share it.

Agencies are hired for their expertise, not just to develop sites.

One aspect of consulting that’s easily overlooked is the how much value lies in a firm’s expertise. At the end of the day, agencies are hired because clients believe they are the best people to help them deliver amazing websites that achieve results. The code is critical, but the business results are what really matter. Agencies distill best practices from a wealth of expertise learned over years of delivering dozens, if not hundreds, of sites for customers.

But this expertise only becomes valuable if it is voiced in the form of an opinion. While it can seem imposing or awkward to jump in on the decision-making process for the first time, especially when recommendations run counter to those of the client, clients greatly value experts who proactively look out for their interests by helping them navigate hard, subjective technology decisions.

A successful client is a happy customer.

If you’re a consultant—whether at a large agency or a smaller dev shop—your reputation is often impacted by the business outcomes of your clients. Agencies that take on an active role in technology purchases are more likely to be comfortable with the end result. Even if a platform decision has nothing to do with the firm’s design or build, poor performance of the client’s site can lump them into an overall negative perception.

You know you’re earning a client’s trust when they start coming to you to ask you what you think as part of their decision-making. How do you get there? By going above and beyond the baseline requirements and taking part in your client’s overall strategy. These high-level relationships are the foundation for retaining long-term clients and building a healthy, stable agency that’s set up to scale.

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