When Should You Swipe Left on Bad Agency Prospects?

By Jason Swenk on February 6, 2019

Do you have a qualification process for agency prospects? Do you know when to turn away a bad prospect?  How do you know if a client is a good fit for your agency? Turning away clients isn’t easy, but turning down a bad prospect may just save you time, energy, and your sanity!

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • When should your agency swipe left on bad prospects?
  • 5 big client mistakes to avoid.
  • One great example of a bad agency client.

Today, I talked with BJ Enoch, VP of Enterprise Accounts at SocialSEO. BJ knows a thing or two about turning clients down because he’s learned the hard way. SocialSEO has 100+ employees and manages a ton of clients. So, BJ is the perfect person to give us all some client rejection insights. He’s a 6-year SEO agency veteran with a knack for spotting bad clients. From early mistakes to time travelers, BJ gives us real, practical advice for avoiding bad agency prospects.

When Should Your Agency “Swipe Left”?

So honestly, I had no idea what “swiping left” meant until a few weeks ago (because I’m happily married!) So, for those who don’t know, swiping left is when you decide to “reject” an uhhmm… “prospect” on the dating app Tinder. The app gives users different profiles photos and you can swipe left to get rid of the profiles you think are a bad match.

We’ve all dealt with bad clients a time or two but you know you don’t have to! In fact, telling a prospect NO may be one of the best ways to grow your agency. If your agency is newer and you’re in need of the cash flow, you’re probably going to take every job that comes your way. It gives you tons of experience and allows you the opportunity to make some mistakes. But, if you’ve been in the industry a while and you know exactly who help, then it’s time to start saying “no” to the wrong projects and prospects.

BJ says to ask yourself some questions before you take on a new project. If the answer to any of the questions below is no, run away! Ask yourself:

  • Can we deliver this project?
  • Can we deliver this project at a high enough quality for the client?
  • Is the project reasonable?
  • Is the timeline reasonable?
  • Do we WANT to deliver the project?
  • Can we successfully communicate with the client?

5 Big Client Mistakes to Avoid

  1. You can’t always be the expert at everything: We’re all really good at something. But, we’re also all really bad at something. Don’t tell the client you can create their website if you only do video production! If you’re not equipped to deliver high-quality content, let the client know. Trying to work outside of your expertise is going to cause all kinds of issues. And, you’ll probably lose the client because of your inability to deliver as promised.
  2. The client isn’t the expert: Speaking of being the expert, remember that it’s you! If a client tries to set a bunch of parameters during the meeting, be wary. Don’t be an order-taker — be an advisor. Make sure to establish this role upfront so your agency is not treated like a commodity.
  3. Don’t oversell – set accurate expectations: You don’t have to constantly let the client know how amazing you are. Seriously. Don’t tell them you’re going to deliver 25% more than they wanted. Sure, you always want to impress but you should let your service and results speak for themselves.
  4. Avoid pricing issues: Your price is X, not Y. “But Jason, the client said they could get the services from my competitor for that price!” Then tell them to work with your competitor! “But Jason, the client said they would pay me once my services start boosting their revenue!” No way José! They’ll most likely jump ship to the next more expensive agency and try to cut them down on price.
  5. Don’t play the short game. Agency growth is all about the long game… lifetime value is key! Focus on client retention, not just on acquisition. This means you should be vetting clients and making sure you’re both on-the-same-page before you work with them.

BJ left us with one great example of a bad agency prospect when he decided to “swipe left” on a prospect who wanted a website built for time travel business (?!?).

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