In this blog post I want to talk about prequalifying leads. In particular why it’s important and how to go about it.
Because look, if you’re not prequalifying leads, chances are you’re just taking anyone on board and that’s fucking stupid. In the SEO industry in particular – due to all the bullshit that gets circulated online, if you’re not careful, you can often find yourself working with crazy, impatient or demanding clients that will do your fucking head in.
You’ll be getting slammed with all sorts of bullshit like –
- We want results in 3 months
- We want to pay you only if we get results
- We only want to pay $70 a month, or worse
- Would you mind taking a look over our site for a minute?
Fuck that, no thanks.
If you’re not prequalifying leads then you’re going to find yourself saying “Shit, John was right”, trust me.
Saying yes to everyone is fucking stupid
If you’re not prequalifying leads, chances are you’re just saying “yes” to everyone and that’s really stupid.
If you do this, you’re going to end up with angry clients. You’re going to end up with clients not paying on time. You’re going to find yourself with clients that are getting twitchy about rankings. Clients that are fucking annoying you every five minutes – either calling you or sending you silly fucking emails. Clients that can’t afford your services or people who want to spend an hour on the phone with no intention of paying you at all.
So what you should be doing?
Pre-fucking-qualifying, that’s what.
Before you do anything with anyone, you should be asking a set series of question in order to determine as to whether or not the person you’re speaking with is a good fit. That’s right, before you do anything at all.
- Client wants to meet at the local cafe – prequalify
- Client wants to come into the office – prequalify
- Client wants you chat on the phone – prequalify
I’ll touch on what you should be asking in a minute but for now, learn to say fucking no occasionally.
You’ll often be glad you did.
Structuring your shit
This is something that I talk about within my coaching, and for that, I use a structured run sheet where I ask a set series of questions in order to prequalify the person I’m speaking with because I don’t want to be wasting my time dealing with someone that either isn’t serious, they’ve got no money, or SEO is not suitable for their business.
So the first call should be your opportunity to ensure the person is a good fit.
And this goes not just on the business level where you’re talking about numbers and whatnot, but also on a personal level, because I’ve found myself on a number of calls speaking with a new lead or a prospect and I just haven’t liked the questions they’re asking me or their overall demeanor. I’ve found myself on a number of calls where the person on the other end has been abusive or carrying on about SEO being a big scam and, “I’ve worked with a dozen agencies, and they’ve all been shit”, and all of this sort of nonsense.
That’s just an immediate turn off for me – not interested.
I want to work with someone who’s not a maniac. Business owners that understand that marketing is an investment and that it takes time. If I find myself on a call with someone and they’re just constantly carrying on at the other end like a pork chop, then I just want nothing to do with it. So in terms of prequalifying and what you should be looking for, here’s a couple of key points.
Ensuring a positive ROI
Firstly, you need to ensure that you’ll be able to get a positive return on investment for the client. So if someone comes to you and they’re selling $4 pot plants and you’re charging $2,000 a month, either they’ve got to be selling a shitload of pot plants to make it work, or SEO is just not right for them and they’re not going to be a good fit.
I’ve found myself in this position numerous times, where I’ve had people call me and they’re doing $1,200 a month and they want my help. $1,200 a month is not a business, it’s a fucking hobby. And for those people, I turn them away because there’s just no chance I can help them get a positive ROI. I’m also not interested in taking someones money if I know it’s not going to fucking work.
BUT there’s a catch.
There’s a big difference if there’s volume. If they’re selling $4 pot plants, that in itself is a problem – but if they’re selling 100,000 pot plants a month, then that’s fine. They’re going to be okay. You can move through the process and continue asking questions. But if you don’t and you just sign anyone up, you can end up finding yourself on a rather uncomfortable call with a client when they’re 6 months into a campaign and they’re putting down all of this money and they’re not getting a positive return on investment simply because you didn’t prequalify and ask them about the numbers before you got started.
You’ve got to make sure that you don’t get yourself into a fucking pressure cooker.
So ensuring that you get a positive return on investment is absolutely vital. You know, if someone comes anywhere near me, and I’m charging two, three thousand dollars a month, then a lead to them needs to be something in the thousands, not $5.
Avoid time wasters
The other thing you want to be doing is you want to protect yourself from time-wasters. There’s no point sitting in on a call for fucking two hours and you find yourself with someone who at the end of the call says, “Ok, thanks so much for the advice”, and they fucking hang up. You’ve just wasted a shit load of time and it’s definitely something you don’t want to do. So make sure you cut straight to the chase as quickly as possible and find out the person that you’re speaking to is serious.
Be wary of lolly scramblers
The next point is you want to protect yourself from people that don’t have any money.
Again, you don’t want to be driving to the other side of fucking town or sitting in on a Skype call for two hours with someone and going over their website and looking at back links and their fucking competitors and everything else, only to find that they’re expecting to pay $100 a month for SEO. You’ve got to protect yourself. For this, it’s simple. Put your fucking prices on your website. That way you’re not going to get these time wasters and you’ll save yourself all of that mucking around.
Avoid overnighters and start up “aspirational” types
I don’t think aspirational is a word, but fuck it, you know what I mean.
You need to ensure that their business is stable, that they’re not the fucking startup aspirational type. They haven’t built a website in Wix, launched it last Saturday and they want to be page one in Google and making $100,000 a month by next fucking Wednesday.
So in order to avoid this there’s a few things that I’m looking for –
- Has the business been around for a long time?
- Do they have numerous staff? Again if they’ve got 10, 20, 30, 50 staff, you know they’re fucking serious. This is a thing with businesses that have been around for 10, 20, 30 years – they’ve in it for the long haul and demonstrated a willingness to work. They’re not afraid to stick with it, they understand how business works, and they’re not looking for overnight success.
I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up the phone and it’s some stay at home mum who’s just launched a Weebly site selling engraved keyrings and they want to rank first page in Google ahead of Amazon.com. They’ve got stars in there eyes and empty pockets.
Dickheads with unrealistic expectations
Now here’s one that you definitely don’t want.
You don’t want fucking clients with unrealistic expectations. And these are the types that say … “We’ll give you three months. If we’re not seeing results in three months then we’ll cancel.” Fuck them. If that’s their attitude then turn them away. Say thanks, but no thanks. You need to be working with clients who understand that SEO takes time and it takes a lot of fucking work. So people that want overnight success, fuck them off.
You do the work, then we’ll pay you.
You don’t want clients that want you to work for free then pay. This is performance based SEO and it’s just bullshit. These are clients that want you to do all of the work and if they get results, then they’ll pay. That in itself is fucking ridiculous. That’s like walking into a hairdresser and saying “Listen, cut my hair, colour, style and blow dry it and if I like it, I’ll pay you”.
That’s fucking ridiculous.
Pay on performance SEO is absolutely ridiculous.
Another client you don’t want are demanding clients. And again, you should be able to pick this up during the first call or during the first discussion. These are clients that say, “I want this”, “and this is the way I want it” and “it must be done this way” and “I don’t want anyone doing this.” blah blah blah.
I’m not interested in working with someone who wants to tell me how to do my fucking job.
The client is the problem not the service provider
You know the ones.
When clients talk constantly about other horrible experiences. These are clients that you get on a call or you’ll be sitting with in a meeting and they’ll talk for fucking 20 minutes about how they’ve been working with a dozen different agencies over the last five years and every single agency they’ve worked with have been horrible.
Now I understand that might be the fucking case because let’s face it, there’s all these shitty SEOs service providers out there. But sometimes it’s not the fucking service providers, sometimes it’s the client. The client is the fucking problem. It doesn’t take a fucking rocket scientist to figure that out that sometimes – and let me tell you, I’ve had plenty.
This is where you need to ask yourself, “Is this really someone that I want to get myself involved with?” Because chances are it isn’t. You certainly don’t want to be the “next terrible SEO guy” that they talk about when they pick up the phone and call the next agency.
Clients that buy a dog then bark themselves
My next point, clients that tell you how to do your fucking job.
This just drives me mental.
This comes back to a saying that I once heard – “It’s like a person that buys a dog and then they stand in the front yard barking”. It’s fucking ridiculous. There’s nothing more frustrating than having someone pay you to help them and then tell you what to do. I’ve just never understood it. It’s something that I still find myself struggling with occasionally, but those clients don’t usually last long at all. They either do what I say and implement my recommendations or they can fucking hit the bricks.
Prequalifying this type of client is often easy to spot because they’ll usually makes a point during the call like “I know how to use Ahrefs and SEMRush, so I’ll be monitoring things at my end”
When the phone rings, have your shit ready. Be prepared. Be fucking organised and remember the rules.
- Stop saying fucking yes to everyone
- Be firm but fair
- Don’t be afraid to say no
And lastly but most importantly of all – avoid the temptation because it can often be hard when you’ve got someone waving money in your face.
Want to work with me?
I’ll show you how to setup a profitable SEO business from home, making $350,000 a year in your pyjamas. If you’re interested have a look here, or get in touch.
Oh, and don’t forget to share this post on social media somewhere so people can complain about how much I swear.