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Saying NO to certain requests from the client is a skill. How do experts generally position their NO request to clients & what was their reaction? how did PPCers handle the most outrageous request? and more was discussed in this week’s PPCChat session. Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, here is the screencap of the entire discussion.

Q1: Do you ever say no to clients and/or stakeholders? If not, why not?

All the time. Saying “no” to bad stuff is the only way we can say “yes” to good stuff. @DigitalSamIAm

Sure! it often comes down to what’s possible (FB doesn’t do that) or about what’s best for a campaign. @JuliaVyse

Yes, to try to keep them from being their own enemy. I think the client is paying us to be the experts in paid search and would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t push back on bad ideas or let them know the possible consequences. @selley2134

I say no a lot. Saying it in a way that is well-received is most definitely a skill. Sometimes you just need a hard no though! @NeptuneMoon

I usually say no in a nice way by explaining the trade-offs. i.e. I “can” do what you’re asking, but it will require me to not do X or it will cost you $Y more this month. @robert_brady

I also usually ask questions to clarify what they are asking me to do before I trot out the no (unless it is a blatantly obvious case of NO). @NeptuneMoon

We say no when it’s really bad and won’t do it. Always offer our reasons and POV. We also try to offer alternatives or try to build on what outcome they are trying to achieve. Maybe there is a disconnect between tasks/project and outcome/goals. @duanebrown

Having said that, it’s easier said than done. Sometimes you have to be really firm, really diplomatic. seek your inner Canadian and speak kindly. @JuliaVyse

Not as often as I should. I’ve always felt I’m meant to have this “can do” attitude which has gotten me into a mess a few times. Almost instantly regret not saying no straight after the conversation sometimes. @dylanppc

All the time, usually when a client says “this would be a great keyword to bid on” @spacetime_0914

If you asked me 2 years ago: No, because I was afraid of being seen as selfish or not willing to go the extra mile. I now do say No when it’s necessary but 99% of the time I will say “No, but…”. Not everything is possible but sometimes you can compromise. @C_J_Ridley

I think you have to be able to say no, and also propose an alternative to achieve said goal. Shooting things down without proposing alternatives is never helpful. @hamboy_PPC

I do because sometimes we are asked to do things that are not possible, and it isn’t always me sometimes it’s the engine. (forgot hashtag out of practice) @runnerkik

Honestly, way to often. The real trick is to not be condescending when I do it @JonKagan

Indeed I don’t hesitate to say NO. Reason: Unrealistic goals / expectation. I always try to educate, but after a certain point, I prioritize mental peace over anything else. @sonofgorkhali

Yes I try and say no if I believe something will be a very bad idea. Some things are not possible or could cause damage to a brand. A lot of ideas are meant as brainstorming thoughts, so it is good to get them out and talk through them. @lchasse

Q2: Are there certain requests that you will always say no to (or want to say no to)?

Anything unethical certainly. Anything counterproductive – measuring awareness on traffic/conversions/leads. those two categories are the main ones I think. @JuliaVyse

“Always” is a little strong, but I generally say no to competitor bidding unless the client has a separate budget and a proper landing page. @beyondthepaid

Anything that is against a platform’s rules is an automatic No from me. Anything unethical is a hard no. I also don’t do more work than is in my contract without getting paid more. Ever. @NeptuneMoon

I get myself into trouble here because I very much always want to ‘find a way.’ It’s led to some rather robust conversations sometimes, but you’d be surprised how far you can get by just expressing what you want. @JuliaVyse

Hell yes, we always so no to forecasting results. Both in pitches and with clients. Biggest waste of time. @duanebrown

The straight-out hard no requests: 1. Services/tasks we don’t do 2. Stuff that may be illegal (IANAL) 3. Stuff that I think is unethical or makes me uncomfortable @DigitalSamIAm

Stop bidding on brand @JonKagan

Most anything being pushed by platform reps. @robert_brady

I usually say no when it comes to marketing ops. I understand CRMs and how to leverage them but I’m not your marketing ops guy. @spacetime_0914

I’ll make a rare jump into this chat and say, you should always say no to unpaid work in an interview process. I don’t care if they need to assess your abilities, if it’s work, you get paid, even in the interview process. @EricHeiken

Any requests that result in me doing more reporting than actual work. Any client calls after 5pm or on weekends unless something is literally on fire. Any forms of performance guarantees. Even with all the data available, I cannot predict the future. @C_J_Ridley

Anything that is an atrocious experience. Or a clearly extremely low budget high competition space @runnerkik

Skills or services that I don’t offer or have spent enough time learning. Rather just say it’s not my expertise and try to find someone who can assist. @dylanppc

I will always say no to things where I would not be able to tell my 94 year old grandmother about and be proud of. @lchasse

People luring with the hope of work for free analysis/brainstorming session. Nothing is FREE, and this is my plain simple reply. @sonofgorkhali

Q3: How do you generally position your “No” answers to clients and/or stakeholders?

I generally position it as something firm, but with an offer of what can be done and a pivot back to the original goal @JuliaVyse

If it is an immediate obvious no situation, I get right to it and explain why. If it is less clear, but questionable (for any number of reasons) I dig into the client thinking and try to get to their “why” and tackle it from there. Like to offer alternatives too. @NeptuneMoon

When I do say no, I always try to provide enough information as to why it won’t be a good idea and enough information as to why we should go in a different direction (or stick with what we’re doing). @dylanppc

I always explain my reasoning and why saying no is in the best interest for the client/stakeholder. If it’s regarding a topic that I’m against, then I’d be honest about the reason and might even offer to help them find a suitable alternative (but not always). @C_J_Ridley

Respect always goes a long way, whether it’s deserved or not. We try to never assume motive, and to politely communicate our reasoning in pushing back on a request. @PPCKirk

I offer an alternative & am clear about the logic behind the big ol NO – if needed I have sources and documentation @runnerkik

Well, I finally stopped doing it in the most insulting way. I typically lay it out as a: “if we do this, then this bad thing happens” and see if they figure it out, otherwise I get rude @JonKagan

Show our POV, what experience tells us and give our take on what will happen. 99% of the time we never say it depends as that’s vague and doesn’t help. We give our feedback based on what we know to be true and what other factors impact what we are talking about. @duanebrown

Luckily I have good working relationships with my clients, so we talk through the why. I will ask what their goal is and we can often times find alternative options that can meet those goals. They have the responsibility of growing their brand and I respect that @lchasse

Getting this right is vital & can make or break relationships. Anyone can tell someone “no”…far fewer can get someone to accept/understand the “no”. Always bring a reason, a few alternative solutions & some data into these conversations. Work towards a compromise. @dealership

Q4: Have you ever turned down a project? Why did you say no? How did you say no?

Yes, BUT. this one is really hard for me. I really like new projects, I love thinking about new ways to do cool stuff, and new projects mean new revenue. It’s VERY hard for me to say no when it’s a new cool thing that I know will be fun. @JuliaVyse

Yes, and I was offered a project by the same company 6 years later and went back to my notes and my reasoning was the same. It was a great self check. My life didn’t align with what they needed and didn’t later in life either. @runnerkik

We turn down project opportunities at least weekly, sometimes more often. Client fit is really important to us, as is growing in a stable manner. The key is to say no clearly, but politely. A few things I’ve learned: @PPCKirk

Unrealistic preset client goals, was destined to fail @JonKagan

I was very clear & transparent. I really liked the company but I had to be true to myself. This is work after all, no hard feelings. @runnerkik

Yes, I turn down projects. And have done so for many, many years. Trust your gut. If you find yourself thinking “Well, if…” about a project, SAY NO. The sales process is as much about YOU determining if you want to work w/ the client as them w/ you.  @NeptuneMoon

Yup! Wasn’t a good fit for me, too many services on 1 client all handled by me & the project was too large for my capacity. Especially considering the level of communications they required. I let them know I’m not able to go ahead with this project at this time. @dylanppc

Yes, if the goal is unrealistic or they believed that email that said x agency could get them x4 revenue in just 3 months and wanted to know if I could do the same. @lchasse

Yes. The more experience I get, the more clearly I know where I’ll be a good fit and where I won’t be a good fit. @robert_brady

I have also turned down work because the personality of the owner I would be working with. A personality fit is extremely important for a long-term relationship, which is usually what I am looking for in a client. @lchasse

All the time – unrealistic budget, red flags for a bad client, no capacity, not in line with our values or I don’t believe we can add sufficient value. @DigitalSamIAm

We have an intake form to help us “score” opportunities. We usually say no becasue: 1. Low revenue store under $500K/month 2. KPIs don’t match and unrealistic goals 3. Dropship site or something like that We are honest on why we say no. If we do a video call. @duanebrown

One of my things is to always be annoyingly fair on pricing, because I believe in treating everyone exactly how I’d want to be treated. But part of that is being fair to our team, as well. @DigitalSamIAm

Yes, I have refused to work on a client due to their business conflicting with my morals. Luckily, my line manager was understanding & didn’t push any further. I did my research and approached my line manager prior to being asked to work on the account. @C_J_Ridley

Q5: Has your criteria for when you say no to something changed in the last year? If so, how?

No, because there is no formal preset criteria, it is case by case @JonKagan

I would say not increased, but I am getting wise as I grow older, and now I can suss out people. When I was young and broke, I used to take anything and everything. Old and yet broke me prioritize peace over money @sonofgorkhali

Definitely has changed in the last year as this last year has seen the biggest change in my career. I understand where my lanes are and what I’m good at or not ready to offer yet. I’m also a bit wiser of clients trying to disguise free work in their retainer. @dylanppc

We have mores reason to say no… more brands need and want help. More brands are advertising online then ever before. We can not help everyone. @duanebrown

Q6: What kind of pushback have you gotten from clients or stakeholders when you’ve said no to something? How did you handle it?

Well I have done things that I have said “No” to & I make sure it is documented. That being said if it works I have no shame admitting I was wrong & learning from it. @runnerkik

Lots of questions usually. It’s rare to get an insistence, tho that did happen a few months ago. Led to a pretty big discussion after the fact on expectations and instructions. not super comfortable at the time, but we all ended up on the same page @JuliaVyse

As I said in earlier answers, I try to really figure out the root of a request that I’m not wild about first and foremost. If it gets to where you know it must be a no, explain well and document the communications on the no, the reasons & any follow up. @NeptuneMoon

I have been told internally, “we know, just do it – because the client is set on it” – but if you are aligned internally that is ok – not ideal but ok. @runnerkik

Yes, I will say no more often now in regards to managing my work-life balance and mental wellbeing. @C_J_Ridley

A mixture, some agree, some argue, some yell, some do it on their own and dont tell me. The key is to explain to them why I am saying no, and provide detailed reasoning. @JonKagan

I don’t think I have ever had a situation where it went beyond our conversation, but that is because we generally talk through everything first. If it is a project with an existing client we have generally found another option(s). @lchasse

Can usually go 2 ways: 1. They understand and appreciate the feedback 2. They become frustrated and start to pick at anything else I say next. The latter is less common but it happens. @dylanppc

Most respect our POV. If they really want to try something… as long as they know the risks… we are help them out. @duanebrown

Q7: What is the most outrageous request you’ve gotten for PPC? How did you handle it?

Can we put an ad on the front page of Google? then of course they invented Discovery. @JuliaVyse

Well, I had quite a few supplement clients at one point, lots of blushing & immature laughing & great keyword lists. @runnerkik

“build the account, but a $10M IO in place, but dont spend anything, I plan on ruining this company”–>later discovered the client was murdered by his business partner when the FBI asked us for phone records @JonKagan

Okay, here’s a real one: restructure the entire program, set up new accounts under an MCC ‘this way’ vs the high-performance current way. why? because we expect it to perform WAY better. *narrator* it didn’t, and they lost a year of data doing this. @JuliaVyse

I was asked to set up promotions and launch new campaigns when I was on vacation. Firmly told them: I had informed sent you an email a month ago to say when I would be AFK. Unfortunately, at this point, I can’t be of any assistance. Sorry. @sonofgorkhali

Nothing crazy recently. Usually just asking for discounts on our pricing, which we say no and explain why we are priced the way we are. @duanebrown

More than one occasion I’ve had clients/prospects say “can’t you just create a new account” for GAds, GA, FB or any account they’re too lazy to find out who in their company has access to. Usually accounts that have years of data too. @dylanppc

A few years ago, I was tasked with launching paid campaigns to promote a “gambling but technically not gambling” competition. They had a bad UX website, no social following and no proof that they weren’t a scam. 1/2 @C_J_Ridley

Despite constantly telling the client it was a big risk & it is unlikely to succeed due to the quick turnaround & high volume they wanted sales, I did it anyway (because I didn’t know how to say no back then). This was when I realized saying no was important. 2/2 @C_J_Ridley

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