Every day, I speak to entrepreneurs who are experts in their space – all looking to scale their agency, consulting firm, or dev shop.
The topics of our conversations often range from marketing to scaling operations, and how to build the necessary systems to get out from under the business.
One topic that inevitably comes up is positioning the business to land more ideal clients.
…And the difference between your best clients and bottom-of-the-barrel clients that are a pain in the neck.
You know the ones I’m talking about…
The client that calls you on Easter Sunday while you’re eating dinner with your family because they need something inconsequential pushed out on Monday.
They’re rude, short, and leave you feeling like you’re a waiter at their dinner table.
“Ugh… Check please!”
So, if we all know what bad clients look like… What constitutes a good client?
Furthermore, how do we find these “good” clients, acquire them, and keep them coming back for more?
I’ve put together a quick list of what the best clients want (and what they look like).
What I’m not defining here is what your ideal client profile looks like. I don’t know if you work with enterprise clients or SMBs with 3 employees.
Maybe you only work in the accounting space… Or perhaps you solely work with dentists and lawyers.
That’s not the point of this article. There are plenty of other resources out there for that (DM me if you need some recommendations).
No, this is to help you better understand what the best clients seeking an agency or consulting firm are looking for in a partner.
This will, in turn, help with how you position your firm, what to look, for and how to acquire these clients.
…And ultimately how to avoid the clients you don’t want.
1. Good clients want an expert in their corner
There is a lot of competition and noise out there.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re currently in… If you have an agency or a consulting firm, there is a good chance there are 100s of others out there in the same space.
So, how can we cut through the noise and attract the really good clients?
Niche down and focus on one area of expertise that you provide.
If you’ve read any of my posts before, you know I often talk about the old marketing adage:
“The riches are in the niches.”
The specialist ALWAYS beats the generalist.
This is why research shows that most specialists make more money than their generalist counterparts.
I often hear agency owners tell me their growth is inconsistent or isn’t predictable.
One problem they have?
They’re like the Walmart of agencies – if you need it, they’ve got it.
Need branding work? Yeah, we can do that.
Social Media? Yep, no problem.
WordPress and website management? We can do that too.
Nothing fazes them. They do it all.
If this is you, you’re probably struggling to scale and ending up with shitty clients.
You may think you’re doing yourself (or your sales team) a favor by being so diverse and broad – but it’s actually a massive disservice.
How can you possibly be the best at all those things?
Hint: you can’t.
You’re not providing your sales team a beautiful clean slate either. Instead, you’re hindering their ability to sell.
Imagine a sales call where the sales person rattles off 100 different possible services like this:
“We offer all of these services… Are you interested?”
Now imagine the power of being able to say:
“Mr. Prospect, I know you’re very busy and you may already be working with a couple different agencies or firms. That’s okay. I’m reaching out because we do X, and we’re the VERY best in the world at it. Open for a quick conversation?”
You immediately sound like someone who knows what they’re great at.
The really good clients want to work with the best, and they want to be led.
Pick one area and run with it.
2. They want to work with the right fit
I’m a HUGE fan of the consultative, “feel-it-out and see if it actually makes sense” kind of sales approach.
You should be working to fully understand the problem and assess whether or not you can help them…
Only choosing to move forward when you and the prospect both have clarity and confidence.
- Clarity of where you’ll take them
- Confidence that you’ll actually get them there
Predictable Profits helps 7-figure business owners scale to their next million in revenue.
If you don’t fit our criteria, that’s okay. We can’t help you, and you’re probably better suited elsewhere.
This seems obvious for many people… But when asked point blank, they find ways to make something work – even if there isn’t a clear fit.
We’ve all been on the other side of the table as a potential buyer. We’re being pitched by a vendor or service provider, and it sounds like they work with everyone.
Maybe somewhat frustrated, you take a step back and say:
“Okay, Mr. Salesman, here’s my problem…”
And you begin to lay it out for them, but as you’re doing this, you can hear the person on the other side getting excited and saying, “yep, yep, yep – we can help with that.”
I appreciate being an expert at something – and being confident in what you do (see #1 on the list) – but pump the breaks a second.
There is no discernment as to whether or not this is actually a good fit.
Your best client doesn’t necessarily want you jumping up and down the moment they describe their problem to you like a kindergarten class – “Ooh, ooh, pick me! Pick me!”
Instead, they want you to listen, assess the situation, and ask more questions. They you to better understand their problems and whether or not you can help them.
The best clients want a good fit.
3. Good clients respect your time
Now, let’s turn the tables a bit here.
We’ve talked about what a good client is looking for… But let’s talk about some characteristics of the best clients.
Like I mentioned earlier, you want the client that respects you and your time.
Going back to where I mentioned that some people will try to squeeze a round peg into a square hole (forcing a fit) because they need the money (or whatever it may be).
This falls under that category.
I’ve had 3 difficult clients over my career that come to mind right away.
They were a good fit in terms of what they needed, but I had a feeling they would be difficult and disrespectful. I was naive, and thought it was just part of doing business.
Sure enough – they were horrible clients.
There are folks who will always find something wrong, or always ask you to over deliver (more than usual) and do things way outside your scope.
Now, don’t get me wrong… You should always strive to go above and beyond.
If a client is respectful of your time, but they’re in a pinch and need you – step up to the plate. Now is not the time to pull this card.
However, a good client will be mindful of your time. They won’t do this all the time.
Most of the time this can be avoided by saying something like:
“Typically our policy is X, but I can make an exception this time.”
However, if you feel like they’re going to abuse your time and/or be difficult from the outset – don’t waste your time.
4. They want honesty
The really good clients want objective, honest truth. We have a saying at Predictable Profits:
“There are reasons and results; the only thing that matters is the results.”
As in, we may think we know something – but we always trust the data.
This applies to our relationships too. As coaches, I’m accountable to my clients just as they are to me.
The best agencies and coaches are able to objectively tell someone what is wrong and what needs to be fixed.
It can be exhausting, but avoiding the truth because you don’t want to upset your clients will be 10X worse in the long run.
Suck it up, hang in there, and tell them the truth from Day 1.
You’ll get the best results and build the strongest relationships.
5. Admit when you’ve messed up
Speaking of honesty…
Fess up when you’ve made a mistake, when a campaign has floundered, or the work you provided wasn’t up to standard.
You’ll often see people get defensive or claim that it failed because of something on the client’s side…
Want to know how client loyalty is earned?
It’s rarely in getting everything right the first time or being a “likeable” person.
It’s owning up to your mistakes and saying, “This is our bad, we’ll fix it.”
I had a situation early in my career where I totally messed up.
I went to the client, owned up to the mistake, and told her we would work for free until we delivered the results she was looking for.
She ended up staying with us as a valued client for a long time. Not because we drove stellar results right away, but because when things hit a rough patch, we hung in there and made it right.
There are lots of places for your clients to take their business.
It’s little things like this that keep them coming back.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what YOUR ideal client is looking for in an agency or consulting firm.
If you can add these all up, do the right thing, and deliver excellent results for your clients – more good clients will come through the door.
There are a few things you’ll need to get started…
First, you need to identify who your ideal client is, what makes you unique, and why they should choose you over your competition.
If you’re struggling to identify your ideal client or simply attracting more of them…
Check out some other resources on our website, or download our most recent e-book.
If you’re like me and prefer speaking to a human, you can grab a time on my calendar here.
We’ll talk about your positioning, your ideal client, and the sales funnel necessary to close more deals quickly.
In your corner,