Everyone’s offering “guaranteed meetings with prospects” – but who’s handing out the manual on spotting the duds from the studs?
What sets apart the average client from the problem client – and the holy grail of the great-fit client?
Getting crystal clear on the exact type of client you want to work with as an agency is an incredible way to build consistent, long-lasting relationships with clients who have reasonable expectations.
Let’s break it down into the four core qualification checks:
1 – Realistic budget & business model
The actual $ value here is going to vary based on the service that you’re offering, but there are two key prerequisites here:
Realistic budget and business model.
Budget is the amount of money that the economic decision-maker is willing to spend. And business model is whether or not they have a business model that “works” for your service, pricing, etc., because the value that your service can deliver will vary from business to business.
Some economic decision makers are willing to go above the budget that would actually make sense given their current business model. This can either be intentional, or because they simply don’t know. But in either case, this typically means that, as a service provider, you’re going to be under significantly more pressure to deliver.
Others know exactly what goes into the work that they want you to help them with and are either a) going to have a transparent conversation with you, or b) use the fact that they know to negotiate a better price for themselves – especially if they know they have a strong company reputation, and aren’t new to working with agencies.
You shouldn’t approach b with negativity because we would all do the exact same in their scenario, especially if we know we’re the type of company that people want to work with.
This brings us to the second point.
2 – Strong company reputation
If a company isn’t the type that you’d want to publicly represent, and you have the freedom to choose not to work with them, it’s typically not going to be worth it in the long run.
There are other agencies that will be super grateful for the work, so you’d only be doing the client a disservice if you accept an engagement that you feel isn’t truly a great fit for what you and your team do.
Sidenote: of course, this assumes ideal scenarios. We completely get that agencies can’t all be that selective about the type of work they do.
3 – Understand the value you bring to the table
Having to convince someone who doesn’t see the value of bringing in someone like you, or who devalues the effort and nuance of the work that you do is typically one of the biggest red flags that you can find.
It’s also, unfortunately, one of the most common. This means you really have to use your own best judgement, and decide what you’d be comfortable with.
4 – Realistic scope of work
If they lack a realistic scope of work, there is room for this to be a part of the “work” you do for them – i.e., you working with them to define a realistic scope of work. This would be a part of your engagement with them, but take place first in order to set realistic expectations.
That said, if there is resistance to going through a proper discovery session process with you to define what they are looking for (and need) – this would also be a red flag, and therefore something you should account for in the way you structure your engagement (to plan for scope creep).
If a lead or prospect isn’t a good fit in any of these areas, then it may not be worth running your first prospect introduction meeting. This is unless you don’t know them very well, and want to evaluate these four points based on the conversation itself – as opposed to making assumptions.
That said, meeting in general can be a good idea as there may be a way you can extend help or advice to them in a small (yet meaningful) way. This can then lead to them referring another prospect to you later down the line that ends up being a great fit.
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