Just Say No to Bad Local SEO Clients - Let them Walk!

Linda Buquet

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For the next post in our new "Consultant's Corner" forum I wanted to share some important info
for Local Search Consultants to consider.

This post has great info about specialization and focusing on your core business strengths
and not getting bogged down with bad clients who are not a good fit for your business.

Say No To Opportunities & Clients

Not all clients are equal. Not all opportunities are a good fit. A client who costs a lot to service, who doesn’t pay their bills on time, who makes life difficult for you is probably not a client worth having. Sure, they might help keep us going to the next paycheck, but this is not an optimal way to run a sustainable business long term. Such clients present an opportunity cost i.e. we could be working with better clients, be making better money, and honing our service around mutual benefit.

Saying no can be very powerful. Prospective clients seem to respect this more, not less. There is something very appealing about a service that is exclusive and beyond reach. It signals a level of confidence that can be attractive.

Exclusive positioning is not just done for the sake of it. It’s a way to filter clients in order to find a good fit, which is especially important for small companies, as they have less resources available to carry bad risks. If we can figure out a client need that we know we can service well (specialization), with sufficient margins for us to be enthusiastic, and the client gets the value they were looking for, then everyone wins.
I have to say I learned this lesson a long time ago and probably let more clients walk away than anyone here. I'm very selective and turn down more clients than I accept. That's true today with my consulting business, but was also true when I was optimizing Dental sites for Local Search.

I just don't accept clients that are spammy, have violations, have massive scrambled upstream data, excessive dupe problems OR multiple locations. To me those are issues I just don't deal with, because it's not worth my time investment AND it ends up being all your time going into negative problem solving.

What I loved doing when I was helping Dentists, was to help them rank - not swat bugs all day! :p

When it comes to Google+ Local in particular I think you need to be careful what clients you take on because you can end up going down the rabbit hole with never ending bugs and problems and end up - upside down dealing with all the support problems.

So what about you?
Have you fired any clients lately or let a new prospect walk???


P.S. Check out other posts in the new "Consultant's Corner Forum" we just launched today.
Or start a new thread to share a tip or ask business related questions.
 

Cindy

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I absolutely agree with Linda. Saying "No" can be the most powerful tool in your marketing system. Of course, Linda does it the smart way - saying no to problem operational situations.

I say no most often over pricing issues. I am the queen of holding the line on pricing. I don't work with clients who can't spend at least $1000 per month. When challenged on working for less, because somebody's brother or child or friend can do what I'm doing for a lot less, I never hesitate to tell a prospect to pursue that option. Playing a little "take away" can boost your own credibility in the eyes of your prospect. This is always done in the context of a friendly, professional conversation. Never as a threat. But the bottom line, don't be afraid to walk away. You'll find that many of these prospects are just trying to test you. You'll end up doing more work at a price that is profitable for you.

Cindy
 

Linda Buquet

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Cindy,

Wow we think a lot alike. I could have penned that! And you make a really good point about not discounting or giving in. Seems like every time you do, you end up regretting it and those are clients you should have just walked away from.

We haven't started talking much about pricing yet, but I do the exact same thing. In the sales world it's called a take away close, but like you, I don't do it in a manipulative way, but in a very genuine way.

If someone hems and haws on price or asks for a discount, depending on situation I'll say something like: "It sounds like things are really tight for you right now, so I think you should just wait. I don't even want to work with you until you can comfortably afford this and maybe feel a little more certain this solution will really help your business."

I think part of what makes that phase work is... "I don't even want to work with you until..." They always come right back with: "You're saying you don't want to work with me now? No, no, I wasn't saying I want to wait, I can afford it - let's go ahead and do this!"

Again I'm being sincere and not just trying to close them. If they can't afford it or want to low ball, it's totally true when I say "I don't even want to work with you until" but IF they are just testing to see if they can get a discount, it turns them right around.

I have lots of other pricing/keep the high road/no discounting strategies and lines I use and pricing is one of the topics I want to get a new thread going about.

But I'm really glad you brought it up Cindy, because clients that want a deal or can only afford a low price are a good example of the type to just walk away from!
 

Andrew

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Love what you're doing Linda, this consultants forum is just what I've been waiting for. I'm looking forward to all the goodies. I'd love to know which prospects to target to make the kind of money Cindy has alluded to. Keep them balls flying.
?Andrew
 

Linda Buquet

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Keep them balls flying.
LOL Andrew!

I used to charge Dentists $3500 PLUS $300 per dupe and will be talking about pricing quite a bit I imagine in this new forum and sharing some of my strategies.

In my Advanced G+L Training I go into how I packaged my service and priced it AND how I sold it at that high a price.

Then some consultants after G+L training end up coming back to me for more of a business consulting session for tips on how to package, price, prospect, close and build the business, so then in that session we go into lots more detail about pricing issues.

So I'll be sharing some of that info in future posts too. It falls right off my tongue in training calls,
but finding time to get it all in writing, especially with my carpal problems is always the challenge.
ALONG with the fact, I'm juggling too many balls. :p
 

Sue

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I am with you all the way Linda. We have a "lets fire the client" party every now and then when it comes to the client who wants everything but doesn't want to pay for it or wont listen to advice but still wants a successfully ranking website. You can only advise your clients so many times but if they wont listen and it is affecting the overall performance then "fire them"! There will always be "that" type of client out there. I am dealing with one right now and I don't think they will be around much longer.
 
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Just turned another away yesterday :)

You really feel for them sometimes though!!

In the last 3 years, she paid for a site and then paid 2 other companies for revisions - still not happy, site is only half complete, not close to being optimized for SEO and she's rightfully frustrated.

Would love to help her out, but she's at the place where she thinks she's paid too much already. It's sad that other companies either won't or can't deliver!

I think it's good and bad for business. Bad b/c so many SMBs are getting frustrated with the whole process and with more and more small SEO and site design companies joining the Witness Protection Program everyday, it's giving both industries a bad Rep.

However, it's can be very good for business if you are one of the few companies that DO deliver - leads to a lot of referral business and testimonials!!
 

JoyHawkins

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I have clients sometimes thing $150-200 a month is too high. If those types of clients feel like cancelling, I don't usually argue.

I also let a guy cancel once 2 days after he signed a contract and gave him a full refund too because Google just switched over to G+Local and it meant anonymous reviews weren't possible anymore. This irritated him and he thought I somehow knew this change was coming and didn't tell him about it until after I got his money. I kinda wanted to hit my head against a wall.
 
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LOL I pace and fret instead of banging my head...

We raised our prices to wean out clients and last year I started letting clients go when their contracts expired if they were not open to our new direction or guidance. We changed our client demographics intentionally.

Today we also have a 30 day agency termination clause which lets us get away from clients that no longer are a good fit, continue to fail to comply with our requests, or that do things to sabotage the work we do.

Clients have a minimum duration for their end and then can cancel with 60 day notice if they need to or find they need to part ways.

Today we offer 3 tiers of service but focus on signature and executive clients first and foremost. By creating the right funnel or options, we avoid a lot of issues.

Plus, if they are serious, we have partnered with a bank so they can obtain funding for business expansion. :)

Basically we find two motivations for parting company, if and when we do, which has been twice in the last year.

1) client is not compliant (fails to participate) OR
2) they no longer are a fit for the company based on our service direction (we rebranded and revamped in mid-2012).

In rare cases, we have had clients part company due to the sale of the business or lack of finances due to unforeseen circumstances.

If someone is shopping price, we tend to direct them elsewhere. I've said no to four potentials this year, to do the job right and get good results, they have to have the budget and if they are not ready, I am stealing what Linda says. ;-)
 

Marie Ysais

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YEP! you bet! I interview the clients and if they are not a good fit I just don't sign on to do the work. I have rules and I WON'T deal with needy clients.......so if they need me to report in every day then forget about it! I had to learn what I would and would not put up with and then realized......they needed me more than I needed them!
There are way too many clients to work with to put up with the ones that won't toe the line!
 

jtweav

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I would never send them packing without building value, showing results over time with similar clients. Then offer to do all the same work just as little at a time as their budget permits. Same amazing work just more spread out. Then most people will just invest in good marketing rather then walking. Then when they see the money talk to them about upping the budget.

But just like Lorin at Bright Local says ask yourself the question do I want to work with this person? If the answer is no, then don't just walk away, walk them to your competitor, jk.
 

mborgelt

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I HATE doing this but I remember reading somewhere that having difficult clients can be on of the worst things for employee moral as it can just drain on them with the over-the-top communication. I had client where we exchanged roughly 5 emails a day (143 emails in 30 business days). That was a bit much for us and we had to part ways.
 
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Nice, I let go of a lot of clients in September of 2014 during a revamp. One of my signature clients attended a class I did a few months ago, and I expressed how I'd love to have him back but that he wasn't renewed because he always attempted to jump in and also ignored my advice.

A good client today is not the same as back then. It was simply not worth the work when they won't allow you or your team to get the right job done. He just emailed me last week wanting access to an account we had set up and has seriously messed up his online presence.

Today I am clear about what I want from a client and also expect referrals to those types of businesses. We have a renewing contract with a 60 day termination clause but also now only guarantee six months and then can either progress or terminate without a big hassle.
 

Ray Litvak

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Loving this topic!

A business associate recently asked me to help her son market his new personal training business online. Hesitant to work with friends, family and business associates to begin with, I gave in and agreed. Long story short...we met, reviewed his local online competition, discussed the benefits of a 1st page ranking - lead generation, branding, etc - and even agreed on a price. Being a nice guy - yes, I sometimes finish last ;) I offered him a reasonable rate of $500.00/mo. for a minimum of 6 months. Here's the response I got:

Hey Ray,
Sorry for the late reply, hope all is well. I spoke to my business coach and a friend about your proposal and they both said the investment of $500 per
Month for your services was something they could help
Me with no extra cost. Also they would teach me the basics to
Improving my backend web code etc. Also, as a new business watching my expenses is critical and if I can keep a little more in my pocket the more I can do to grow.
I am still interested in working together in some way to help each other however that may be.
Perhaps in the future I would still enlist your services.
Another option would be to barter services if you're open minded to learn more about nutrition and training for optimal health and Wellness.
Thanks for your time and look forward to talking more.

Not surprisingly, his website was also a result of a 'barter arrangement' and it showed.

In retrospect, this potential client did not meet my 'potential client criteria' which has grown over the years...I took it to be a blessing in disguise.

Now, if Local SEO were only as simple as 'improving some back end code'...

-Ray
 

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