Partners
2.2K members online now
2.2K members online now
Community space to get to know one another, talk about marketing and advertising strategy
Guide Me
star_border
Reply

How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Top Contributor
# 1
Top Contributor

Happy Thursday Y'all.  I've bumped into two needy prospects.  Recently a home buying prospect & a finance app prospect.  

 

For the home buying prospect, it was a lead our sales manager at the time generated.  I believe it was his friend.  I prepped a pitch and the sales manager and I drove 1 hour to meet him.  We met with him for 3.5 hours and had our development team design a wireframe for a $20,000 learning platform.  We sent him the wireframe and another proposal.  Two months later he wanted to meet again.  I took my CTO and drove 1 hour to meet him a second time.  4 hours later we mapped the entire project out.  Everything was good... until we sent him the CC authorization and contract.  He balked.  Two more months pass and he wants to talk about PPC.  The sales manager (who has been let go for generating 0 sales in 150 days) convinces me to meet with him again.  Foolishly, I drive the hour to meet him again.  And spend another 3.5 hours pitching PPC.  He never wanted to be a client.  Only to see what I was doing.  But that's not even the worst sales experience.  

 

There's a finance app.  I met one of the primaries on an international airplane ride.  We talked about his invention, and I gave him my business card.  We chatted a few times on the phone and he decided to come down to hear me speak for the Houston Social Media Day Conferences.  I spent 8 hours with him and didn't focused on generating leads at the conference (a bad mistake).  A business dinner later, we hammered out a marketing plan.  I drove him to his hotel.  A torrid of calls ensued, the main primary wanted to visit Houston.  We went for a nice business lunch and went to my home.  We discuss the project for a few hours and I drove him to the airport.  A month later, he comes to my house again from 8pm until midnight.  After giving 50 hours of free information, I wrote an email saying I would focus on my paid clients and didn't have time for his project.  He responded, he would wait until I had "free" time...  facepalm.  

 

And then there was Douglas... who complained when I didn't pay for his business cards and print advertising (the ones I designed without charging him).  

 

To summarize, don't let prospects take advantage of you.  Because they will.  Identify prospects who will not become clients and get rid of them as fast as you can.  Even if you have to be a bit rude.  For these 3, my company lost 100s of hours and $1,000s in meals and unpaid work.  

3 Expert replyverified_user

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
# 2
Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
Well being a bodybuilder with a mohawk, usually all I have to do is workout right before a meeting and showing up in my gym gear Smiley Tongue

In all seriousness, being able to identify fruitful prospects from ones that end up being resource leeches is an invaluable and necessary skill. To me, it is similar to the need and ability to be able to screen good employee candidates. I don't think there's one tried ad true methodology to it but every agency needs to develop that skill if they want to survive.

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
# 3
Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
Hello @Tony_Guo,

Sounds like an unfortunate streak of bad luck mixed with learning opportunities to determine poor business prospects. My initial reaction is I'm surprised that much work was performed without a signed RFP such as a proposal invoice and a CC authorization on hand BEFORE performing the work. Sure there is the lost hours of prospecting such as visiting a potential client, performing research and pitching yourself and services to meet their needs, but I would never recommend doing work before having an agreement in place, as it is so easy these days for business clients to balk and squirm their way out of payment, seeing as they got what they wanted!

I hope that the costs were put to good use learning from your business's mistakes and moving forward with a little more worldly wisdom in the future!

Best,

Nick

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Hi @Tony_Guo,

 

Ouch, those hurt to read. More like horror stories to me. 

 

I have to agree with on the invaluable lessons learned. My guess is that you have adjusted your processes after these and have a sharp skill for sniffing out clients from stalkers, lol. If you need to, try the mohawk and gym gear, like Spike suggests. 

 

As @Spike M states further, identifying prospects is absolutely critical in running a successful agency. I start with the phone call and carefully listen to what they say... and what they do not. After being in business since 1992, there are certain things a prospective client should be saying and if they do not, I immediately shift gears and ask questions like "have you been successful with getting this done with donations" or "this project requires more than some free advice so I would be happy to discuss what I can do and the costs involved" or let me think on this and see if I can find someone free to help you, my skill set is ideally-suited for this, but there are costs involved" and many other answers like this. They either answer, "I am sorry, I cannot pay at all" or "oh, I do not want to impose on your time and am willing to pay" or "I do understand and you come highly-recommended so I would like to meet and talk about the project and costs."

 

I was at a sales presentation last week (Thursday) and after the full course review of the project, I was asked to go further. I stated that we would proceed to the next step Tuesday afternoon after I have had time to assess the project properly, put a plan of action together along with the itemized invoice. I asked them to think about everything we discussed so far and to present any questions on Tuesday about me, my company, my work ethic, or anything else so I could answer those, too. I added that I was booked up June 2017 and that I did not need the work but was intrigued by the project and willing to consider it. This prospective client (a national artist) first called almost two months ago and asked questions about a new website with a marketing package included. We then talked two more times before meeting in person on Thursday and only after they stated clearly they were ready to proceed with the project. 

 

On Tuesday, I will answer any questions, present a design concept, timeline, complete costs and billing procedures (website work completed, then a invoice mailed with terms Net 15, payment processed, website edits & revisions accepted, processed and completed... then marketing package started).

 

By adhering to a strict onboarding process, it keeps my time in check and I stay in full control of each step until hired, to which, time becomes "our" time. Until it is our time, it remains mine and I control it. As @Nick C stated, have paperwork in place as clients will absolutely become confused when the bill gets presented... if you have given the chance to do so. 

 

Kind Regards,

 

James 

 

 

_________________________________________________________
Google AdWords Top Contributor | Google Partner | GYBO | Local Guide | My Profile


 


 


 

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Top Contributor
# 5
Top Contributor
Definitely happens. I had one client who always paid. Then she decided to take on multiple partners and asked for a [censored] better website. Well that does not seem to be working out as all 5 partners can not seem to come up with enough money to pay for the new site ...

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

[ Edited ]
Badged Google Partner
# 6
Badged Google Partner

Hello @Tony_Guo

Been there and done and why I have the Tire Kicker Policy in place to deal with these types.

What is a tire kicker, exactly what it implies, they want and take the services, intellectual property, and our resources that we offer for free and waste endless hours without paying us a cent!

Why did I create tire kicker policy?

To protect my time because time is one of the most valuable aspects we have as agency owners.

I'm not even going to bore you with the amount of time, money, ideas, and service I have provided for free trying to gain the trust and business from a client and here are some solutions I came up with to get rid of these types.

1) Charge a consultation fee, even if is a nominal fee like $25.00, this one tip will weed out a lot of tire kickers. In fact, you will be surprised that some people even get offended (psst, you don't want to work with these types).

2) Limit your consultation to 1 hour, that's it. If they can't get the information in one hour, then they need to hire you as a consultant at a minimum of $150.00, at least that's the going rate where I"m located.

3) If they must have additional consultation time, charge them at a rate you are comfortable with.

4) If you must travel to them then advise them there is a travel fee of $20.00 or whatever you deem necessary to cover your travel costs.

Normally if a potential client meets me at my office or within a 5-mile vicinity I will just eat the cost as a business expense.

This is another tactic that I use to get them to come to me versus me traveling to them is that they will save money and not have to pay a travel fee.

5) Qualify your clients just like they qualify you, Be picky with the clients you work with because IMHO it is of no use to work with people who have unreasonable expectations.


It's like my Mom use to say, I can't go to the gas station and tell them that I work for Church and expect them to give me free gas if the Church has not paid me for my work.

Same applies here, you have to qualify your clients and charge them accordingly. Know this seems like kinda a tough way to be, but as you have found out if you don't protect yourself you will find that they will get away with wasting your time and with no work, Not Cool!

Plus, your a freaking Google Top Contributor, that's Gotta be worth something, Right? Do you tell these tire kickers that you are one? Potential clients need to know they are talking with an expert and not some mock agency claiming they can get results.

I'd Really like to see this change and still get phone calls from these jokers

Really hopes this helps because I've felt that sting before and it's not cool.

Bonus Tip: Instead of working with random people coming to you who may not have the resources to hire your agency, Research job boards and headhunters and contact these companies to let them know they can sub the work out instead of hiring an "employee" This will actually save them $$$ and help your agency secure a "real" client.

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Follower ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Follower ✭ ✭ ✭
Yikes! Sorry to read about all of those.

We have a policy that we are willing to provide any information for free, as long as it's free information that these prospects could have found anywhere. If it's anything that cost the company time or resources to learn, then we are willing to do an audit.

I've also found working in sales that there comes a point where a client is just too needy. If they take up way too much time and ask certain questions, they don't understand what we do and they won't stay on as clients for much longer. I'm willing to part with clients more easily, knowing it frees up my time to spend on actual AdWords accounts.

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor
It's such an important skill. Identical to hiring good employees. Or not hiring bad ones.

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Top Contributor
# 9
Top Contributor
One foot in front of the other. It wasn't too much of a set back. Just something I thought I'd share. Recently we charged a client card and it came back with insufficient funds... that was an interesting experience too.

Re: How Do You Deal with a Needy Prospect?

Top Contributor
# 10
Top Contributor
Thanks for such a lengthy write up. Having an on boarding process is so important. I'm developing one. Congrats on being in business since 1992. My small business is only a year old... and it already feels like a decade. Haha.