Agencies That Build #5 – Building Right Relationships | Ben Callahan

We’re back with the fifth episode of Agencies That Build. Joining Casey & Varun for this super insightful session is Ben Callhan, Founder of the Build Right workshop series and President of Sparkbox; a group of web makers that develops client products and teams via projects and their Build Right training. 

Following the ATB tradition we passed the Mjölnir to Ben and busted some common industry myths. 


  • Clients always care about the tools and technologies an agency has to offer
  • Thinking people/companies are perfect, and they don’t make mistakes

Ben kickstarted the session with his approach to business as ‘People over tools’ and that part he also covered while busting the myths for us. He also mentioned that transparency goes a long way in building relationships.

For instance, if you’re working with a big company, and they need 10 resources. You won’t go around and hunt for new ones; that’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, you’d use your network of skilled people that you trust.

It’s not a bad thing, just be honest about it to the client that you’re swamped, and you’re working with contractors that fit in your culture, to get the work done.

You’d be surprised how many people appreciate the truth and just want to get their work done.

Ben also shared one of the most important and practical best practices for agencies:

Talk about timeline, scope, and budget every week

It’s really important to have these conversations and avoid being the company that just takes requirements, provides estimates, and shows up only when their is an issue. Both the parties bring different experiences to the table, one brings business/domain expertise and other brings tech. Frequent conversations will keep the deliveries on track and budgets in check.

The trio also discussed working with contractors, agencies and specializations, and future of the technology. Which we think is better experienced on our Podcast or YouTube.

TL;DR | Takeaways for Building Right Relationships

  • It’s easy to get distracted by our technology rather than having personal conversations. However, that one on one connection builds relationships further than any piece of tech could.
  • It is ok to mess up! Transparency is key to good communication with a client. When mistakes happen try having a mindset of continuous improvement and lean on your coworkers for support.
  • The core of a great business relationship is transparency, trust, and honesty. This builds stability and shows your clients you have their best interest in mind.
  • “There is a lot of potential reward in being a hyper-specialized company. But the risk of course is choosing an industry. If something happens external to your group then all your marketing is focused on that niche.” ~Ben Callahan
  • Bring different voices to the table when looking for solutions. “Have a workplace that has a lot of different perspectives, different experiences because that is going to bring a lot of interesting solutions to the surface.” ~Ben Callahan
  • Career advice from Ben Callahan, embrace the leader within you.


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