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Agencies: Know When to Say No to New and Existing Clients

RedFlagsClients that eat up time, drain your resources or leave quickly after you’ve committed your top talent can rob your agency of the profits that can be realized with the right partnerships.

Set your team up for success and put your value above all else. Align your agency with clients where a mutually beneficial partnership can be established and grown.

Warning signs that an agency-client relationship could hit rough waters come in all shapes and sizes—some more glaring than others. As you begin conversations with prospective clients, watch for the following red flags.

The Signals

  • A Conservative Budget: This can lead to misaligned expectations (wanting the world for a penny!) or be a hint that the company is financially unstable.
  • Financial Instability: Is the client funded? Are they profitable without you? Instability in their income could mean instability in your income. Build your agency around accounts with strong financial health and a history of paying on time.
  • Low-Quality Product or Service Offering: Select clients whose products and services you believe in to avoid forcing your team to make a hard sell.
  • Marketing Technology Deficiencies: It can be hard to fully activate campaigns and generate results if your client does not have, and refuses to invest in, all the required tools (i.e. automation, analytics, CRM).
  • Synergy: The most effective and rewarding partnerships have shared values and complementary cultures. Is your main client contact respectful, passionate and driven? Does their vision align with your capabilities?
  • Leadership Support: A commitment to your agency and marketing approach from client leadership translates to more freedom and patience to see your strategic vision fully executed.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Aligning yourself with a company that has unrealistic expectations will only set your team up to fail and disappoint. Take the time to understand what the client considers success, and when they expect to see it.
  • Weak Foundation: Start with a rocky foundation and you’ll spend more time fixing the foundation than driving the business. Does your client have the assets in place that you can utilize early in the partnership to start showing results. If not, are they aware of this and what it will take to build them?

Trust Your Instinct: Be Willing to Walk Away

It can be difficult to say no to cash, especially early in the life of your agency. But consider this: How much could it cost you long-term to take on a poor client for a short-term cash influx?

If you dedicate your top talent to clients who aren’t fully committed to your agency or don’t have the potential for growth, you jeopardize relationships with clients that can benefit from and will appreciate your best.

Learn how to say “no” to clients and new business when you know they aren’t a fit with your agency’s services or culture, and instead put the priority on those clients that have the potential to stick around long-term and ensure your agency’s profitability.

Learn about more opportunities to grow a profitable agency by registering for our upcoming webinar. Paul Roetzer and Chirag Ahuja will walk you through the impact of talent, tech and strategy on the long-term success and profitability of your agency. Register today.

Does an organization’s pre-determined potential align with your business goals? Share how you know when to say no in the comment section below.

Image Source: Tuchodi


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Paul Roetzer
Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency, specializing in public relations, content marketing, search marketing and social media. He is also the author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint and The Marketing Performance Blueprint.

Paul Roetzer