This topic contains 129 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Matt Bowski .
What are some red flags that a prospective client gives off that make you think they aren’t a good fit for your business?
one of the most recent ones was “where can you get me for $200 USD?”
“I know how to do SEO so you can just do the stuff I don’t know how to do”
What I’ve found out is that trying to “educate” them can help a lot when closing a deal. It lasts longer to close, but it works fine. Of course, those who want to see instant results and pay peanuts will never be able to understand how this works, and it’s for the best to run away from them. Run as fast as you can
“If I don’t get results after you (a 3 months strategy that needs more time to take off), I think I’ll give up on using a website”.
This website thing is probably a fad anyway
And that client is expecting a ROI on Facebook by just posting 2 to 3 videos of an event in her shop. Without a good knowledge of Facebook Ads.
You’ve got a website? what are you, one of those hipsters? Next you’ll be telling me you also drink craft coffee with avocado slices.
Al Gore, (the inventor of the Internet) was wrong on global warming and he was wrong on this Internet taking off.
Al said we were all going to be extinct by 2016 if we didn’t follow his environmental suggestions.
or without wanting to spend a dime on Facebook ads.
This one here ” I will pay you a monthly fee and sign what ever after you get me some clients through the door.. you can trust me I’ll pay what ever”
Never got that one… which is a shame… I need to laugh more often.
How about his cousin “Ill pay you this massive commission only based payment, on my new business with no income, track record …ohh I also have no experience with online business”
Usually when they are very defensive to suggestions on what could be improved. They always have a reason why they can’t do that or why it’s not feasible.
History of domestic violence. Local history of being a loon. Extensive drug history. Acts of aggression to others. This was what I learned about my last client I had to lock up after receiving death threats.
Whoa that’s crazy
I mean, yeah, that’s about as red a flag as you’ll get. Wow!
lol, can also confirm they aren’t good clients
Wow. That’s extreme
“Cut me a deal on this first project, there’s lots more coming”
Ugh I hate that. It always makes me feel like a kid “Eat your vegetables and you can have dessert”
I actually get this one more than once to. To be fair its usually the ones that have a hand in a few industries. For example I took on a pay per sale affiliate client. Who sales furniture leads to a local physical store. He’s already built out the sites and coded my own affiliate site to me. He himself well according to him gets 20% of every closed lead and I myself get 8% out of that 20%. Pros and cons I guess.
The thing is that same guy has a credit financing, equipment leasing and over projects down the line.
I’m a bit more hard-line on it. Pay me full for the first one and if there is more business I might discount it for repeat business.
Much better approach
Tell them you’ll cut them a deal on the 2nd project. Then they’re staring down the barrel of their own gun
Also when they are always trying to find ways to get a deal or save every penny.
If you are so confident in your SEO abilities why don’t we do a revenue split.
Right, because this is free and I am cool taking all the costs on myself. That’s a good business practice.
This will only work if they agree to pay for domains, hosting, and content, then you can agree to do the on page stuff and maybe split the link building aspect.
My comment to them was that is not how marketing works. You pay up front than you get the leads because if I’m taking 100% of the risk why do I need you in the deal. Needless to say I walked away a winner
Sure….100% for me and zero for you!
“I’ve been burned in the past”
So have I buddy move on …
“I’m currently paying $150 per month, but I want someone local to do my seo. Do you have a price for local businesses?”
Yep, same price as all other businesses
I once had that conversation from a local cabinet maker that got 10k per job but wanted to pay no more than $100 per month to someone local… I wanted to tell him he had gotten more than $100 of my time just by me answering the phone
It’s those conversations that makes me want to start my own businesses, hire staff, generate business with SEO and take the margin for myself…tools like Xero, CRMs and websites make it a little easier to run service businesses remotely these days…. how about White Hat Cabinet Making?
‘We can only pay you based on results’, ‘I want to be first on google’ ‘can you call google and tell them to change this?’
‘We can only pay you based on results’, ‘I want to be first on google’ ‘can you call google and tell them to change this?’
I can get it done for $……. at ……..
It’s too expensive.
Asking for guarantees
Anyone pushy to get a better price. Those are the type of people who will find things wrong to complain about to try and get $ off or get out of paying their bill and will never be happy.
Rude. Condescending. Going into meeting with a negative attitude. Comparing you to their last provider. Expecting rankings to come overnight. Saying “you have _____ long to rank us ________”. Asking for guarantees or paying after you rank. Complainers. Asking for a lower price. People who insist on paying after work is completed. The list goes on!
I always return the favor with these types of prospects. It shuts them down quickly. Examples include:
1. A restaurant group suggested they only pay for results. I asked them if I could order food from their menu, and only pay if it was the best version of the item I had ever eaten.
2. Competitor comparison- Why aren’t you still doing business with them? If they are that great, and you don’t have a business relationship now, they must have fired you as a client.
3. Just last week a prospective car dealership cc’d me on an email to one of my sales guys, demanding free services. I responded with an immediate demand of a free car (Audi SQ5).
4. Most important- I do not allow contracts with clients. While we use this as a sales tool to gain business, I also use this as a quick way to fire a client. I made this move 2 years ago, when I was forced to complete a contract for a client I wanted to douse in gasoline and start on fire. Worst 4 months of my business life.
Food for thought. I am the nicest and most giving business owner I know. I’m also the biggest d!ck when it’s needed.
Who are you?! and how do I follow every single comment you post?
100% true on the contracts if they aren’t happy I want to part ways ASAP!
agree. Let them leave. It’s more painful to require them to stay.
I think I’ve posted more in the last two days, than I have in 2 years. Sorry.
do not apologize
I am trying to get money for a contract, right now, and yeah, I don’t really wanna work with this guy, anymore.
Gonna take me more than a year to get it squared away, probably.
Definitely moving away from Deals.
your business will at least triple if you make the move.
“What’s the worst that could happen? You are out a month of costs for services we performed already, and you get to walk away?” ~ Said by me or my salespeople, at least 2-3 times per day.
Yeah, if you keep promoting, sure…
I made a lot more money with bigger deals, but it was many times more work.
Like I said, in one of the comments below, I’m moving to more scalability… one-offs… pre-built packages, courses, etc.
I agree with the pre-built packages. Found the easiest way to sell SEO is in a set cost package that you break into months. Like a “local a-z package” it costs ____ much and it will take me ______ long to complete. Then you can move into more loosely defined month engagements once you get them the results they are looking for.
Keep the local radio station on speed-dial and ask them to call and see if they will make the same deal?
“You’re my 5th agency”
“Can you cut me a deal, I’m going to do A LOT of business with you later.”
I have $100…
Complaining about how the last guy was really hard to work with and how he got ripped off. Turned out it wasn’t the last guy who was hard to work with…
Phew! There are a lot of red flags. Do you have a few weeks?
– Refusing you access to their analytics data.
– Refusing you access to their GSC data.
– Asking you to just focus on their specific requests and what they believe to be their problems, without allowing you to be a proper consultant.
– Asking for free audits, free keyword research or free anything.
– Trying to strong-arm negotiate using another SEO’s offer against yours.
– They get defensive about their website’s problems.
– They try to justify their website’s problems by blaming developers.
– They claim they’ve fired their previous SEO because he couldn’t guarantee them top rankings.
– They claim their former SEO was lousy, when, in fact, their website is optimized quite well.
– Instead of paying your fee, they offer you sales commissions.
– They want you to do your job for a ridiculously low amount of money (get me top rankings for $200)
– They ask you for a substantial budget cut, promising they’ll get you more customers along the way.
– You ask for a certain fee and they start negotiating by cutting around 40% of your initial proposal.
They refuse to allow you to use their logo as part of your portfolio.
I get all my work through Facebook, Why do I need a better working website?
Send all the changes to my Web guy (who also does seo and will probably undermine me every step of the way
I ripped a “web gal” to shreds last week. I let her beat us down for 3 months, just long enough to assume we weren’t the type to fight back. We are taking over the web responsibilities January 1, at the end of her current contract.
“Grasshopper” business theory 101.
My favorite one was a theme crashed and the Web developer said that it was our fault and therefore we should pay the invoice of $1,000 repairs for setting their project back a month. I was able to prove via log that the Web developer broke their own site. So I used their words against them and they paid the first month of SEO on behalf of their own client for setting our campaign results back a month.
we are crypto experts, can we pay you in our own crypto that doesn’t exist yet? basically the better you do the more it’ll be worth….. ahhh pass we are to busy
Send them my way;) . Love it.
Oh yeah, that’s bound to end well. Might as well pay you in pocket lint and pine needles cause their all worth the same amount of nothing.
I would hate to try this on you in particular hahaha
they all failed to even get to ICO to date. The real ones already have cash/BTC I like those ones
pocket lint and pine needles hahaha I hear from Wall-street its set to moon
lol I just give them a road map on what they need to do to be successful and welcome them to come back if they achieve that. One guy did get it together and we did a little job for him
the seo night in shining armor.
apparently that is a more professional way of putting it than just getting up and saying appointment over and opening the door.. motion to door and not make eye contact
Have you ever run into the Trade people?
There’s a whole society out there that does things for trade. LoL
They have Credit Cards that work on trade credit, and everything.
I forgot what it’s called, now…
yeah there is one here called Bartercard. Great way to kill cashflow
“Oh wow! my current SEO guy only charges $300 per month, are you seriously that expensive?” -hmmm remind me why you’re contacting us again?…
Either wants free work upfront “for a big project” or wants to see ‘results’ right off the bat. Sigh.
How many hours a month are you working on my ranking?
Well, we have a team of hamsters, sir, who are working very hard to scurry that listing up, as high as possible.
My answer…..when are you setting up my employee pension plan?
I remember another one: “Times are hard, eh? We do what we can with little we have… right? ;)” (Just before discussing prices)
This is a perfect way to find OUR PAINS. Who’s going to make a nice list of the top 5 issues and let’s try to come up with solutions to keep the client and not lose money.
Like some guys are saying, here, where to begin?
1. Been “burned” a lot
2. Nervous, Excitable, in a Hurry, which usually precedes Disorganized
3. On Up-work, I don’t even apply to a gig, unless it’s about two sentences. Bullet points and Paragraphs? Forget it. That’s slave-labor, moving target, figure things out for me, type of stuff, and you’re not gonna make any money, or have any freedom, most likely, even if you have a team, because you’ll have to train them on all sorts of Monkey Business.
4. Write’s Personal Checks
(dealing with a horror story, right now, actually)
(Only accept Credit Card, PayPal, Stripe, Wire Transfer, or Cashier’s Check)
5. Does not Load Escrow, on Up-work, prior to wanting an Offer Accepted, and argues about it.
7. Acts like they have SEO or Marketing Knowledge, but not really
8. Wants you to Trust them
(You need some kind of leverage for EVERYTHING you do)
9. Any pre-consult request is a risk
10. Any interview process that takes longer than a few messages
11. Anyone that isn’t pre-qualified is a waste of time, because then you have to prove yourself, rather than simply giving somebody something they want. Very Different Experience, between client types.
Many times better to be wanted, than to pine. 😛
12. Anyone who buys HOURS, and not pre-built packages
13. Deal doesn’t sound great, but then they start talking about how all their business partner friends need SEO, too… I’ve had some VERY convincing stories, which all lead to nothing
14. Any kind of attitude where you are treated in a subservient manner
15. Understands that SEO takes time, but in reality, can’t afford more than one or two months
I’m sure there are several others, but those are all I’ve got off the top of my head.
I will also say, that the #1 thing that enrages me about client work is the Ghosting.
There is nothing more rude, or unprofessional, than being ghosted by an entitled client.
I’ve done custom work with, maybe, 70 businesses, to-date, maybe a little more, and I’ve been fairly consistent about being able to identify the rights kinds of people, but a small percentage of undesirables do slip through, and they make the whole thing a sour experience, from time-to-time.
A big reason why I am moving away from custom work, and into pre-built digital products, and courses.
There is definitely a finite number of client archetypes, and when you practice identifying them, it makes a huge difference.
“Our website shouldn’t need much”
This isn’t exactly relevant, but take my “this week’s” kick to the junk for what it’s worth.
I tell people I don’t engage in contracts with clients, but that isn’t exactly true. For large projects, I finance the total cost over a period of time that makes sense for both parties.
Years ago, a very good friend/entrepreneur told me to “NEVER” start a big project, until I had a signed contract in my hands.
Two weeks ago, I broke that rule, being assured we only needed sign off from their attorney for trademarks, non-disclosure, etc. We started work. Hardcore. We were on a short time-frame to build an 800 page e-Commerce site, with some pretty serious integrations.
Yesterday, they passed on the contract, and I’m out about $12k in cost.
We all have horror stories about garbage clients, but “WE” control our out of pocket costs, to include time.
Just my 2 cents.
Anyone who just jumps right to price, asks how many back-links I can get them, or wants me to undercut someone they’re using.
I also love the ones who are paying for ads and seo but say they don’t really need it THAT much.
I have a guy a did what i think conservative 1200 of work .He is tree trimming guy .And told him 600.00.. I asked for some tree work and he wants to charge me a lot . I do still have all of his passwords though..TO his website , his twitter account and I think one other 2.0 ..I am not hearing any thing from him..Wants a “deal” from me but yet says he cant do the same..
Tell him the price you offered him IS the discount
I told him that was a discount of what other people would charge him ..that he was getting I think a bargain for what i did and the hours i spent..
Asking for a discount
“Wow .. why is it so expensive??”
I respond to that one with “I have clients that pay more”
Any push back on fees
“I already have a few other quotes”
I feel like this post has been therapeutic for many of us.
yes we can all relate to the daily foolishness that goes on in our industry.
“I haven’t seen any reports or heard from you in 7 months”
I hate it when clients get clingy like that.
7 months may be a overreaction. My clients get a monthly conversion report combined with a google analytics report.
mine get at least monthly meetings and reports, unless they need more than that for some reason.
I was just joking.
I don’t work with people who can’t invest at least 25k a year budget. That weeds them out. Typically it’s 60k.
Seems to be the breaking point in my experience as well
I’m only interested in doing business with serious people.
I know SEO, I’ve done some SEO on the site I just don’t have the time to keep it up.
When you ask what their monthly marketing budget is and the number isn’t $2,000 even. I then usually claim to be late to my mother’s weekly ride for groceries and excuse myself.
How do you comeback after you say seo will see results after a few months not weeks?? I’ve had that question asked a lot lately.
Let’s get you clients now with Ad Words and clients later at lower cost of
Acquisition when the SEO starts bringing leads
As a startup, we don’t have the luxury of picking our clients yet, you’re all welcome to send your red flag clients our way
that is were you are wrong. You should be even more careful
maybe so, but lead generation is a challenge when you’re unknown. Managing a difficult client is better than having no client
I can confirm it is not
It took me 4 failed companies to realize how important having the right customers/clients was. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sales driven animal. My salespeople are held to a 25/5/1 standard, on a weekly basis. The most important number is the 1. Based on 25 prospects they reach out to, 5 should engage, and 1 should close. If it takes 500 to get to the 1, they’d better figure out a better way to close.
Here is where the 5 is important. We may have 3 interested in hiring us, but not all 3 are ideal clients or workload. I very carefully look through each yes, to determine fit.
Now, for the bad news:
If you are a single person company or a small company, EVERYONE is a salesperson. If they can’t sell it, get the hell out. It IS that simple.
Real life example:
I just started selling horse shampoo, 1 month ago. There were 3 partners in that business. 1 of them was my Dad. I fired him last week for not reaching his quota in getting product into people’s hands to try. This is business, and it isn’t personal. Nobody is above selling at the beginning. While we all hope to be a chief, we ALL start off as braves.
Out of the initial 15 cases ordered from our manufacturer, I personally sold 7 cases, the other business partner sold 8, and my Dad was above being a salesperson.
Coaching disclaimer: Sales is a contact sport. The more contacts you make, the better opportunity you will have to sell. If you are in start up mode, and don’t think you need to sell every minute of every day, you are already failing, because your competitor is making the sale, instead of you.
Just my 2 cents. My 7 companies do alright. Some do better than others, but I won’t be standing on the corner, holding a cardboard sign, anytime soon.
I hope this helps.
now this added value, appreciate the effort in your response.
The first part that I’m still trying to get right is having those 25 leads to turn into 1 quality customer.
A question I do have is: Would it be a good method to start with establishing partnerships with other agencies which may lead to referrals or is the effort better spent trying to land customers direct?
land them directly. Partnerships are only successful, when someone is providing a service to your client. The other companies will never be focused on making you successful, because they are required to make themselves successful.
Two years ago, I cut ties with every SaaS partnership I had. I require them to stand on their own, and compete within their verticals. I’m actually quite the jerk to them now, based on their behavior from the breakup. We sell the best solution for the client, and use outside tech and agencies as needed. When you own the client relationship, you hold all of the cards.
This “might” help-
When I coach a new entrepreneur, I give them all the same advice, which is:
Identify & fill your verticals. Determine 3-5 verticals. The reason for no less than 3, is to give yourself the best opportunity to engage with a prospective client and fill a need, or solve a problem. No more than 5, because you will be spread too thin, and potentially cause failure due to lack of resources.
When you build out a vertical, you fill it from top to bottom, with the top products/services creating the best margin, dwindling down to the least. Determine an exposure to market time-frame, then analyze the results. Remove the bottom 10% from a performance standpoint, and replace those products/services with fresh offerings. Rinse and repeat. It gives the salespeople something fresh to talk about, and allows your verticals to be competitive for position and growth.
If you don’t offer the service a client needs directly from within your verticals, outsource the work to an agency who specializes in that specific service. Here is the kicker that A TON of people disagree with-
Learn from your outsourcing vendors. Gauge what you currently offer, against the potential increased margins you would have, if you replaced a poorly performing service, with one you are currently outsourcing. How this is different and disagreeable to a lot of people, is that most people see outsourcing as a convenience, and feel that a relationship with a vendor is crucial to continued success, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything you outsource, decreases your profitability.
Think of your business like a restaurant. I’ll give 2 examples:
Restaurant 1 offers the exact same food, cooked by the same person, for the last 20 years. Their growth is zero, because they only engage with people who know what they have to offer, and service the same need repetitively.
Restaurant 2 is mainstream. They change their menu out regularly, dropping the low performing menu items, and replace them with potentially new fan favorites. They are giving themselves the opportunity to engage with new clientele, based on keeping the best, and building on their successes. They have a loyalty/rewards program, stay in front of their customers, and give incentives to their current customers (warm market) to refer people to enjoy what they already love.
Which restaurant do you want to own?
must say, I certainly am left wounding why someone would put so much effort into responding to a random comment. Time is so limited, so again, I appreciate your effort to provide some direction to me. Ill come back in a few years to this comment and benchmark my growth. Great website by the way, also am a fan of Divi.
I have a limited budget but expect all this …. By month one?
They ask how much it will cost before barely telling you what they want… and people who talk all over you.
the old ‘just send me quote’… yeah how about i spend time with someone who gives a shit
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