As an agency search consultant, and someone who has also spent time on the client and agency sides, I insist on our clients being honest with incumbent agencies regarding the retention odds.
There are dozens of reasons an account goes into review, but in too many instances the review could have been avoided if the agency was smarter in the relationship-management area. For instance, agencies should always be re-pitching the business to avoid getting to a formal review stage.
And if there is a key client change, consider it an unofficial notice to re-pitch. Have a day or series of meetings to get the new person up to speed and, more importantly, learn about his/her views and goals. You’d be surprised at how many agencies don’t do this.
If you find your agency in the unfortunate situation of having to defend, put the ego aside and objectively determine why the account is in review, what your odds of retention are, and if this really is a marriage worth saving.
But also realize that corporate politics can be incomprehensible and beyond your control (as well as your key contact’s), and you may never really know the truth behind the review. As a few CMOs have said to me, the first bullet has the agency’s name on it.