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When to Bring in the DH

By Felicia K. Knight  President, Knight Vision International, LLC

Whether or not you’re a fan of the designated hitter rule has more to do with how old you are than whether or not you’re an American or National Leaguer. Those old enough to remember when all pitchers had to take their turn at bat tend to resent the American League pitchers who sit through their “ups” with their arms swaddled. Yet the DH rule has extended the careers of many a hitter who may otherwise have had to head to the locker room – and many a pitcher who can now concentrate on what he does best: Pitch.
By Felicia K. Knight, President, Knight Vision International, LLC

In business, particularly in PR, media consulting, and crisis communications, that generational viewpoint doesn’t hold up. Most clients want the pitcher not only on the mound but also in the batter’s box. They want the star player taking all the meetings, designing all the strategies, being on every call, answering every email, and making every pitch.

If you’re the star player, you know how hard this can be – especially if you’re the only player and you’re trying to build a team – and a clientele. You bring on qualified people, but the client is comfortable with only you. Whether the refrain is, “You’re the one with the Washington, DC experience,” “You’re the one who understands politics,” or “You’re the one who knows New York,” the problem is the same. “You” are only one person and you can’t be in six places at once. So, how do you convince your client that it’s okay to invoke the DH?

Be upfront, but start slow. Start out by letting the client know who will be working on the account with assurances that you are overseeing every step along the way. If the client is really skittish about working with someone else, assign your team the support work that is crucial to success, but doesn’t require face time with the client. When face time is necessary, bring the designated associate with you so that the client gets used to other faces in the room, voices on the phone, and competent hands on their account.
You’ll better serve the client if you can concentrate on the big picture and have help doing the legwork.

You can’t grow your business without employees and you can’t hire employees unless you grow your business. Other executives do understand this. Like you, they have hired people to whom they can confidently delegate. It’s up to you to make your client comfortable with and confident in your team. It’s also up to you to know when you should be on the mound and when you shouldn’t. (I’m talkin’ to you, Roger Clemmens.)

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