Posted by & filed under PPCChat.

Host Julie F Bacchini continued the client theme from last week. While the previous PPCChat session centred on terminating client relationships, the focus this week shifted to how professionals strive to align themselves with favourable clients. The conversation explored identifying red flags when engaging with potential clients, recognizing deal breakers, and more.

Q1: Do you have a process for vetting potential clients?

As the client, nope. @MichealGumbert

I absolutely do! I am interviewing a prospect just as much, to see if I want to work with them. And if I am the right provider for their needs. @NeptuneMoon

We have an ideal customers avatar, as in the type of business that we want to work with.That gives us a pass if we get approached by a business we don’t want to work with (startups being one type of business it’s a hard pass on) @jimbanks

But we do have a process when working within internal partners within our company when they want to do advertising with our team. @MichealGumbert

Always start with a get-to-know-you call. Make sure to understand the business, what they have been doing, what works, what doesn’t, WHY they are looking for help, how solid is conversion tracking, etc.Also trying to assess personality fit; does my style fit their style. @robert_brady

I do. It’s not formal but I’ve got the kind of client I like to do business with. Outside those parameters I pass. @Pete_Bowen

A formal process? No. But I do a vibe-check call to see if I feel good about working with them and what potential flags I see. I also think it’s important to see if what the person contacted you for is what they need for their problem, and I’ve had a lot of calls where I can say “no, you don’t need a $5000 solution, you need a $500 solution” @ferkungamaboobo

Have an onboarding questionnaire with approx. 15 questions. Vibe check on a call. I also make a note of how they speak about their previous agency & how often they change their marketing partners. @alimehdimukadam

Love what @jimbanks had to say. Knowing who you work well with helps you say no. I’ve had clients trying to persuade me to take them on but I know it won’t be a good fit. Nice to have those criteria to fall back on. @robert_brady

We do, yes. Typically involves the following: @DigitalSamIAm

  1. ICP validation –> do they fit our ICP, have an appropriate budget? Are we conflicted out?
  2. Initial Discovery call -> 30 minute call to discuss goals, needs, scope, etc.
  3. Proposal Decision -> based on (1) + (2) are we comfortable moving forward to proposal?
  4. Validation + Ad Account Review –> based on what we’ve learned in the discovery call, we ask for access to ad accounts to validate what they’ve shared and understand what’s going on. If this doesn’t align w/ what we were told, we’re out.
  5. Proposal Submission + Follow-Up -> pretty obvious
  6. Detailed Discovery + Scope Review Call -> We go through the scope, their needs + introduce them to the team that would be working on the account.
  7. Final SoW –> based on (5), we refine the SoW. If there are any red flags, we decline to move forward.
  8. Contracting

I have a personal questionnaire, and I’ve been working on a future client-facing version, too.Budget is also important for a number of reasons. Perhaps most critical is, many brands are detached from the real costs of advertising and marketing services. They have an idea of what something is “worth” or “should cost,” so it’s important to tease that out early.Good clients value your time. We don’t haggle with a car mechanic or grocery store over the price of labor or commodities. So too should you be able to strike a deal with a prospective client. @teabeeshell

One of my 2024 goals is to articulate & write like @DigitalSamIAm @alimehdimukadam

We have a call with the client to get a feel for them as much as they’re trying to do the same with us but we don’t have a formal process which is something I’d like to implement one day. @adwordsgirl

We don’t have a formal process, as much as a conversation, vibe check, and then everyone agreeing to our proposal and SOW. @revaminkoff

I was lax with my process recently and swiftly reminded why I had it in place! @NeptuneMoon

We have potential clients fill out our in-take form. Those who don’t want to do it are a hard pass for us. Stage one of our vetting process helps weed out tire kickers. Then we interview and do our vibe check call. @duanebrown

I use a little of general questions and then just getting on a zoom/call is so important to feel out the nuances and personalities. I glean a LOT from those discussions to make the final decisions. @MarkSubel

Q2: Do you have specific questions you ask potential clients when talking about working together? If so, do you do it via intake form, discovery call, etc.? What do you always ask about?

So, because like I said this I am working with internal partners it is less about determining if we will end working with the partner. It is more about trying to determine what they want and what they are trying to do as a business unit. All that to say we usually have an informational call between my team and the partner. @MichealGumbert

Always want to understand the full story about why they are looking for new PPC help. @robert_brady

Before agreeing to work with a client I want to know: @NeptuneMoon

  1. Why are they seeking a new PPC provider?
  2. What is the scope of what they have been doing?
  3. What is their budget, both for ad spend and management?
  4. How have they been tracking “success” and what does success mean to them?
  5. What are their goals for their PPC going forward?
  6. What is their internal structure? Who will my contact point me? (I will only work with a client who will designate a single decision maker)

3 years ago we set up our intake form and it was a gamer changer. Sometimes there will be more questions based on what they say but the in-take form is my go to, to understand the business. @duanebrown

I don’t have questions written down but I’m trying to find out what the chances of Google Ads being successful for them is. Some broad areas include:-

  • Their budget – and if it’s reasonable for what they want to achieve.
  • Their expectations from that advertising budget – what would make advertising successful for them
  • About their business – most of the time is normally spent on this.

I do this on a call. I’m also trying to get a feel for what working with them will be like. @Pete_Bowen

One specific area we get into is “Available Resources” AKA “Who is responsible for what”. @Realicity

  • This often covers what design and dev resources are available (internal or outside vendor)
  • Who handles Analytics management and updates?
  • Who handles compliance? (if needed)

I treat it a bit like an interview. It’s important for me to gauge baseline knowledge of the platform and services I provide, on their team. If it’s lacking, and I sense a resistance to learning (or pushback), it may not be a good fit. If there’s an eagerness to learn, I can work with that. @teabeeshell

@teabeeshell I always want to identify the “I would be doing this myself if I had more time” people too. Cause they are a hard no for me. @NeptuneMoon

In the onboarding questionnaire, @alimehdimukadam

  1. Budget
  2. How soon they want to get started (this can be useful)
  3. Have they previously engaged with another agency or are currently engaged
  4. Competition reference
  5. Objective – Define the win and be as specific as possible

I’ve been anti-intake form for us though we’ve discussed it – it feels too impersonal for our personalized high-touch we care approach, plus a lot of our clients aren’t sophisticated enough to be able to answer the questions the team would like to ask. @revaminkoff

We always ask clients if they have conversion tracking set up, but their answer doesn’t always match the truth. @revaminkoff

@revaminkoff I agree with wanting to do a call, but a short intake form can keep you from wasting time on clients that can’t afford you. @NeptuneMoon

One thing I try to vet and glean is if they have a plan to take it in house or if there’s anyone in-house that is kind of their “go-to” to eventually take it over, just to see if we’ll be wasting time by basically getting everything set up and optimized for them, as well as our own strategies, just handed over or not. obviously, not always an easy thing to tell, but sometimes you can tell. @MarkSubel

Q3: What are red flags to you when interacting with a potential client? Which are deal breakers?

So many – where to start? @Pete_Bowen

Calling me “honey,” “dear,” “babe” or any other pet name. @revaminkoff

  • Only/Mostly concerned about price/costs instead of benefit and value.
  • Startup or unproven business model.
  • In a market too unfamiliar to us or not similar to something we’ve done before.
  • Too Small or a Budget for the size of the campaign and coverage.
  • Short-term outlook or just looking to try PPC. @Realicity

A few top of mind: @teabeeshell

  • Impossibly low budget (can’t spread a teaspoon of peanut butter over an entire loaf of bread)
  • No dedicated POC (inaccessible)
  • Lacking baseline knowledge (expectation setting)
  • Goal to “keep up with the Joneses” (not tied to reality, internal benchmarks)
  • Poor business math fundamentals
  • No budget
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Not willing to discuss the post-click parts of the business
  • Technically incompetent
  • Hurry up and wait type of people
  • Low value per sale @Pete_Bowen

A business model where PPC most likely won’t be able to pay for itself (e.g. $1 margins on $10 t-shirts). @revaminkoff

People who want to hire hands, not brains. @Pete_Bowen

in addition to the great replies here, a plan to take it in-house. doesn’t work for us. we have done it by charging more and a longer commitment, but in the end, generally doesn’t work for us. @MarkSubel

Great answers! I will add: Abusive or inappropriate in any way is an automatic NO. Lack of responsiveness in the wooing phase, also a NO.Talking poorly about their previous provider(s).Lack of respect for my expertise and experience.Changing providers frequently. @NeptuneMoon

It’s urgent, I need a proposal & want to go live asap. @alimehdimukadam

Is there a #ppcchat comedy sketch video series? If not, I have so many ideas and would do the client parts. @MarkSubel

@alimehdimukadam I just had an inquiry like this! We need someone next week cause our contract with our current provider ends at the end of the month… so why are you only contacting me with a week of support left????? @NeptuneMoon

@NeptuneMoon I will add that talking bad about previous providers is not always an issue for us if their performance was poor (reviewing the account often shows this). However, if their work was decent and they are talking bad about them, then that’s a red flag. @Realicity

@Realicity I should clarify… being unhappy with a provider is ok. It is how they talk about them. Are they professional about it or just trashing the other provider. Even if they were really bad, I still expect a professional assessment not a tirade. @NeptuneMoon

It’s a product/service/business model that I fundamentally don’t agree with (payday loans, etc.) @robert_brady

Oh! How could I forget this gem…“If you do a good job, there is more work/budget to be had” Or “If you do a good job I will get you a million referrals” @NeptuneMoon

@NeptuneMoon And that of course justifies a lower fee. @robert_brady

@NeptuneMoon “If you do good work…” is normally followed by a request for a discount. @Pete_Bowen

I see @robert_brady and I have met the same people. @Pete_Bowen

“We really need you to turn this around day 1” Taking over an account takes time. That kind of pressure/insistence that you should get big results right away is often a sign of a larger issue with that client. @NeptuneMoon

All really good answers here. @duanebrown

Things that make me run: @MenachemAni

  • Looking to make a decision too quickly. (They will likely cancel just as fast if they sign on too fast.)
  • Unrealistic expectations. (They want a 5X ROAS, when they’ve only ever seen a 2X, etc)
  • Too many follow up (overly needy, we cannot be available for them 24/7)

when they are looking for utility rather than expertise when they have a history of working with a number of agencies in the past, sometimes it’s not them it’s you when they are more concerned about what WE get rather than what THEY get. @jimbanks

Q4: What are the signs of a good potential client to you?

Good connection, vibe and conversations, Good budget and expectations, Good market and business model, Good product/service, Good website. @Realicity

My favourites are ones that have an interest in PPC but want expert help. You can tell if they are in this category by talking to them. @NeptuneMoon

Clients that lean in, and proactively. This can sound like: @teabeeshell

  • Here’s first-party research I have for you to digest.
  • I’m working with my suppliers and logistics providers to improve margin and take some pressure off of CAC requirements.
  • I reviewed the data, and I’m seeing X. Are you seeing the same?
  • My specific goals for this month/quarter are XYZ. Here’s how I arrived at them. Does that seem attainable/reasonable?

Are they open to hearing my opinion too. Certainly, they know the ins and outs of their particular business better than I do, but how do they react to my questions and thoughts on their current situation. @NeptuneMoon

A business that has been doing it themselves with some success, but knows they’ve hit their limit and need experts (usually with more time) to get to the next level of growth. @robert_brady

The clients who acknowledge your expertise & usually follow up with – send the invoice. @alimehdimukadam

When they are prepared for the intro call! @NeptuneMoon

They understand it is a process and a marathon over a sprint with a playbook that works for everyone. @duanebrown

Good budget, nice people, impactful business, and good knowledge internally. @revaminkoff

The opposite of red flags! @MenachemAni

  • Clear goals
  • Clear financial understanding
  • Willing to invest to grow
  • Good vibes

Pay On Time, CollaborativeTrusting, Respectful of the work that is done in advance of signing on, Pay On Time(I know I said Pay On Time twice). We are good at paid media, but crap at chasing for money, so we have a conversation to that effect before we start and after that it’s never an issue. @jimbanks

Q5: Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then when it comes to vetting potential clients?

If your gut is telling you that the client is not a good fit, listen to it! Every time I have talked myself into taking a client I was reluctant about, it turned out my gut was right. @NeptuneMoon

Biggest thing for me is, you, the advertiser, can’t affect certain things:

  • Margin before CAC
  • Sales team processes (for leads)
  • Creative production pacing (usually)

Make sure you’re comfortable with these situations (among others) for the specific client at hand before engaging formally. @teabeeshell

I second what @NeptuneMoon said. Trust your intuition. @robert_brady

Saying no is good because someone better is always going to come along. @duanebrown

  • Check If the business is established and has been around for a while (3+ years)
  • Local Businesses need handholding with system setups but once that is done, they can be great.
  • Avoid working where there is a lot of bureaucracy (you need to move fast in PPC)
  • Clients come and go, if it doesn’t feel right, let it go. @alimehdimukadam

If you made a mistake and a client it awful, end the relationship as soon as you can. It’s no good for either of you to keep going under those circumstances. @NeptuneMoon

You can say no. You don’t have to take a client that’s not a good fit. You don’t have to keep a client that’s not a good fit. It’s ok. @revaminkoff

Knowing the aspects of running a PPC Services business so that we didn’t get into poor situations because we didn’t understand our own profit and loss levels. @Realicity

I always ask them about their competition too. Those who are very close-minded about who their competitors are, or worse “well, we don’t really have any true competitors” are more difficult to work with. Because so much of what we do is positioning our clients to be among the most attractive options in a sea of options! @NeptuneMoon

Oh! And are they able to hear objective feedback about their web site. And how it stacks up to their competitors. @NeptuneMoon

All of the good things have been borne out of making bad choices, getting shafted, etc. Due diligence is a two-way thing. If you are unsure, ask for money in advance. Scope creep will happen and you need to be able to deal with it. If you schedule a weekly call at a certain time, don’t let their inefficiencies of managing time allow them to fob you off and cancel at the last minute or turn up late or make something else more important. @jimbanks

PPCChat Participants

Related Links

Stop wasted ad spend with Karooya

Stop the wasted ad spend. Get more conversions from the same ad budget.

Our customers save over $16 Million per year on Google and Amazon Ads.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.