If you're wanting to grow an account, establish trust or help your client, there's one way to potentially do all three. Learn how your clients make money.
It's one of the better pieces of advice I learned from @TeresaCaro while at Engauge and isn't exclusive to just revenue-related conversations. Your client could be your boss (if you're client side), the whole organization and also be your client contact. All of these groups of people have different standards they're judged by. Sure, the whole organization will have revenue goals, donors and/or shareholders that will judge them by their overall return on investment - helping them make more money in the long run. Your client contacts (or boss/co-workers if you're client-side) could be judged by revenue goals. They could also just be judged on things like leads generated, media impressions or something as simple as website traffic.
One of the quickest ways I've found to build trust is to figure out how each of my clients measure their success. My client contacts ultimately have to go to their boss and say "here's what our agency spend got us." As an agency/vendor partner, my first goal is making my client contacts succeed and look good doing it. If the actual people I'm working with can succeed and earn more money, our firm is more likely to retain that partnership.
Telling clients what they don't want to hear
There are times when you have to present ideas or advise clients against what they want. You may know what your client needs more than they do and that's okay. They may want web traffic when they really need lead generation (as an example). If you've already helped them succeed in the areas that matter to them, those conversations will be easier to have.
Also, when it comes time to think of new innovative test campaigns you want your client to try out - find out how it will help them succeed. Don't say "hey we should do something on Vine because it's new." Find out how those new platforms or innovative techniques could help them achieve success and make money. It'll be easier to sell if you can prove how it fits into the bigger picture of their success.
Like it or not, money talks
If you're in PR or marketing as a service, you don't have to tie every service or campaign you do to a specific revenue goal. I'm not advocating for that at all. Knowing how your clients make money is still important to understand. That way, you can see how your service offering could fit into the larger revenue picture.
Marketing and PR is first and foremost a service industry. That's easy to forget. How do you serve your clients?
Related, i think it's critical that employees understand how their own organization makes money, and I'm not just talking about "from our clients" but I think all too often the assumption is make that how we make money, and how our companies make money is someone else's problem. It doesn't have to be a thorough understanding or exposure to financials, either as there is limited value in that as well, but an understanding of how the company operates, how we are compensated, and how people at any level of the organization can affect to companies financial health.
(image via Unsplash)