How to Find the Right Agency Clients and Avoid the Wrong Ones

By Jason Swenk on September 28, 2020

How to Find the Right Agency Clients and Avoid the Wrong Ones

How do you find the right agency clients that are ideal and a good fit for your agency? How do you avoid taking on clients who aren’t a good fit? Often times we take on the wrong clients because we’re too eager for the work or because we didn’t screen them thoroughly enough. Learn how to avoid these mistakes and the questions you need to ask before you even begin working with a new client.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • How do you keep your agency the right size for you?
  • 3 questions to ask prospective agency clients.
  • How do you deal with clients who just don’t fit?

On today’s show, I talked to Erin Bailey, partner at the digital marketing agency, Matrixx. Erin has spent the past eleven years at Matrixx, first as part of the team and later as a partner. She has seen the agency evolve from a team of three people designing MySpace pages for clients to one a team of ten that works with common household brands such as Coleman, Zest, and Hefty. While other agencies have a vision of becoming the biggest and most well-known, the Matrixx partners choose to stay the size they are. Erin is here to share why and how they made this decision.

How Do You Keep Your Agency the Right Size for You?

Erin says, in order to keep your agency at its current size, you have to be selective about who you choose to work with. Some agencies want to grow and add to their team. But if you’re happy where you’re at you need to know your team’s bandwidth and then be more selective about what clients you choose to work with in order to find the right agency clients. “Everyone makes mistakes,” she explains, and usually one of the biggest is taking on the wrong clients out of desperation. When you have a clear vision for your agency and you understand what clients want from you, you’ll find the right balance between size and success. The best way to accomplish this is:

  • Be honest with yourself about the capacity you and your team have to take on new work.
  • Have a clear understanding from clients about the type and amount of work they need.
  • Honesty with yourself about your ability to meet the client’s expectations.

Erin encourages agencies not to rush into large contracts with new clients. Instead, agree to work on a specific project for the client. This gives you and the client the opportunity to each evaluate the fit before entering into a contract for additional services. “There is a fine line between making sure you keep the business healthy and spreading yourself too thin,” she says.

3 Questions to Ask Prospective Agency Clients

So, if you are being selective about the clients you take, what are the questions you should ask them? These questions are an important part of the qualification process at Matrixx:

  1. What’s your goal? This is the first question to ask, as the client may be seeking services beyond your normal scope of business.
  2. What’s your timing? Does the client have a deadline that will pull your team away from the work for other clients? Is it feasible with your current workload?
  3. What’s your budget? Erin says this is often the most difficult question for clients to answer. If the client claims they don’t have a budget, usually providing a range will get them thinking. You can also try this tactic for getting the client’s budget in order to make sure they can afford the solutions you offer.

How Do You Deal with Clients Who Just Don’t Fit?

As Erin says, mistakes happen when selecting the right agency clients. Sometimes it’s overeagerness, and sometimes it’s being afraid to say no. And yet, in other cases, the person you were working with leaves the company, and their replacement doesn’t have the same vision. “Don’t be afraid to say no to a client,” she says. “There are other companies out there that you can work with.” If you find yourself in a contract with a client that isn’t a good fit, Erin suggests:

  • Ride out the contract, but don’t pitch a new contract. The loss initial loss of revenue might be hit but reframe your thinking and remember the loss also frees you up to work with more of the right clients. It’s OK to fire a client — it can be very freeing.
  • Continue being honest and transparent; and encourage the same from your clients. Erin explains when the fit isn’t good, usually, both parties know. If you’re communicating often and identify it early on it’s easier to work through.
  • Use your time and energy wisely. Don’t target small businesses with the notion that smaller clients mean less work. A lot of times the small clients with small budgets often have big expectations and demands.

Want to Help Your Team Be More Efficient and Scale Agency Faster?

If you want to help your team work smarter and scale your agency faster you need to check out the artificial intelligence software created by our friends at Morphio. It instantly alerts your team about digital marketing errors before they become problems, saving a huge amount of time. Their AI manages and analyzes data, so you can focus on growing your agency.

For a limited time, Morphio is offering Smart Agency podcast listeners a special deal to get you started. Sign up at and get 25% for a limited time.

Building Your Authority With the Right Agency Clients

With the right agency clients and the ability to recognise bad ones, it will help you establish the authority of your agency and grow in your industry. However that’s not to say there won’t be other challenges that will come your way but don’t worry — this is where I can step in.

In addition to helping scale faster, I have advice for common agency obstacles such as recognising common agency mistakes, how to keep great agency employees in your team as well as fostering the connections made with clients. If it’s challenging growing your business, I have agency growth hacks, the best ways to improve management of your business as well as why building a remote team can be beneficial in the long run.

Learn more about my career as well as tips, tricks, and insights by checking out my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

You can learn more from my experience from my Ask Swenk series and my videos on my Youtube channel. Check out advice and learn even more from other successful agency experts featured on Smart Agency podcast twice every week.

Would You Like To Get Access To A Proven Agency Framework For Growing Your Agency?