In yesterday's post What Client Service Really Means, I highlighted a post from AdPulp about David Wieden's speech that advocated placing the work over the client relationship.
Wieden makes a practical point here, but I wonder if we're talking about valuing the work over the client relationship or challenging the client and the agency to keep the work separate from the relationship.
Selling new work to a client is a negotiation; Roger Fisher and William Ury, authors of Getting To Yes - Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In say:
"Dealing with a substantive problem (the work) and a maintaining good working relationship need not be conflicting goals if the parties are committed and psychologically prepared to treat each separately on its own legitimate merits. Base the relationship on accurate perceptions, clear communication, appropriate emotions, and a forward-looking, purposive outlook. Deal with people problems directly; don't try to solve them with substantive concessions."
Assuming you've chosen your clients well, I believe this is the stronger way to look at it. A commenter yesterday remarked that a good relationship involves the client trusting the agency. I would only add that a great relationship is when they trust each other. Clients who believe you place them or the relationship second are often the same clients who accuse agencies of not listening and being arrogant.
I would advocate keeping the relationship separate from the work, but not second to it. What do you say?