Winning new business is critical to the growth and prosperity of any organization. Some companies even obsess about it (at the expense of their existing clients). But let's be clear – not all clients are created equal. Indeed, some can be have incredibly negative effects on your business, eating up resources and profitability at the same time. Saying no to a prospective client isn't easy, but in some cases is the best form of action. With that in mind, I've put together a list of five circumstances that suggest your prospective client could well suck!
1. When everything is super urgent!
You know the type. They're the client that think they're your immediate number one priority, despite the fact they haven't paid you a dollar. Everything needs to be done yesterday. Which tends to be a sign of internal chaos/crisis. What's more, their urgency hints at the fact that they see SEO as the quick fix to their problems. And as we all know, SEO certainly isn't a quick fix. Steer clear of urgent guy!
2. When you're played off against a snake oil salesman
You've submitted your quote. But the client is now asking why your prices are so high when compared to this other guy that guarantees page one rankings within 2 weeks… for a couple of hundred bucks. At which point you should cut your losses and walk away. You'll never win this one! Cheapskate guy simply doesn't value the service you're offering. Let him learn the hard way that you get what you pay for.
3. When their business just plain sucks
Some people's business ideas just suck. Or their execution is poor. In short, they have no chance of success. Which means you have no real chance of success either. Because even if you get traffic to the site, it won't convert. Which means the client will inevitably run out of money, point the finger at you or cut the SEO program off. Either way, you lose. Ignore bad idea guy and work with someone that you can share real success with.
4. When they pull a Houdini
Everyone gets busy, especially at work. But if your prospective client is constantly pulling a disappearing act, the warning bells should be ringing. If you find it hard to get in contact with a new client at the start of the relationship, what do you think it's going to be like working with them in an ongoing capacity? Incredibly frustrating! Particularly when you're trying to get their approval for something. If Houdini guy wants better search rankings, let him use his magic tricks…
5. When your business ethics clash
Some people are squeaky clean. Others will do anything for a buck. Personally I'm a squeaky clean kinda guy. So it's best that I don't team up with dodgy operators, because my conscious doesn't allow me to implement tactics which I believe are fundamentally wrong or unethical. Black hats and white hats rarely see eye-to-eye. Which means you won't work well together. If you're at one end of the ethics spectrum, it's probably best you avoid teaming up with those at the other.
What are your warning signs?
So that's my top 5 warning signs that your SEO prospect may suck. What criteria do you use to screen and filter new clients? If you think I've missed something, chime in via the comments below.
I'm an online marketing strategist currently working for one of Australia's largest online agencies. I consult with our clients to develop holistic web strategies, while also managing the SEO and social media elements of the business.