Okay, let's break it down: you're a business owner just scraping by, wanting to ensure you have a paycheck tomorrow. You're seeking leads the best ways you know how and shaking hands with all the big names in town, waiting for your next big break. Girl, do I FEEL IT. Since launching my business in Dec. 2015, I constantly struggle with the lack of control that comes from being a contractor. Since I've gotten better at gauging when clients are actually serious vs. just blowing smoke, I want to share the 5 reasons leads haven't hired me, in hopes that you can avoid them yourself. I get it! You don't want to waste your time.
THEY'RE DARN CHEAP.
This is #1 that you'll often encounter more than the other four. These are the leads that talk up how much of a dedicated budget they have for your service, rave about how good you are at your job, ask you all sorts of questions and then bail at the last minute. I was just chatting with a fellow business owner (a training client, actually) about this over Happy Hour the other evening. If they start talking up their funds and creating these lavish plans for the final product, be on alert.
Leads that aren't realistic about what they want are either: a). rarities and truly do have the money to go through with their greatest fantasies, or b). blowing smoke and will ultimately revert to a much lower price point (or none at all) when they finally get the contract in front of them. Keep in mind: I'm not expensive in my field of digital marketing. For someone with a Bachelor's degree, years of experience in the field and continued education, I am dirt cheap and I'd even be cheaper if self-employment taxes weren't such a pain in the butt!
My greatest local competitor charges 2x my hourly rate, if not more depending on the service. If my first interaction with a potential lead consists of them saying, "Ah, that's just a bit high for me at this point... I thought it'd be less," I'm not even going to try and convince them otherwise. Similarly, if they type in "$40" in my "What's your monthly budget?" contact form inquiry. Whaaaa? A smart lead knows what experts are worth in your field and won't try to talk you down.
THEY'RE TYPE B PERSONALITIES.
These are the leads that don't rush to sign a contract, don't have much motivation or strong drive and ultimately don't desire to pay in a timely manner. If the lead you meet with seems incredibly underwhelmed or less than inspired, it's quite possible that they have a Type B personality. I want someone who is enthusiastic to work with me, wants to team up for the better and collaborate to get things done. A hands-off client is by no means a bad thing, but to an extent.
OR, THEY'RE CONTROL FREAKS.
And not in an endearing Type A sort of way. These are the leads that want to have everything their way or the highway and have a hard time letting go of control. I understand and I sympathize with them: in my field of digital marketing, it IS super scary to let go of your "baby" and hand it over to a stranger you just met that promises you results with no guarantee. It's a leap that you have to make in order for your business to survive in this 21st century world, however. It's either you survive and live up to the expectations of a digital world of marketing, or your business ultimately fails because you aren't investing in the right places.
These leads just aren't in the right headspace to sign on the dotted line and take that leap for their businesses. They usually have wonderful intentions, but have a hard time giving up their comfort zone and sense of normalcy. If you notice a protective sort of vibe from them, stay on guard as you proceed.
You know what I'm talking about. The lead that cancels and asks that you reschedule twice in a one week period. The lead that answers an email weeks later. The lead that outwardly admits to being "scatterbrained" and "forgetful". The latter should be a red flag. Red flag like Run. For. The. Hills. GIRL. If you're having coffee with a lead and they openly admit to being "a hot mess" or "totally all over the place", watch them like a hawk and make sure that they act timely with your follow-up emails and draft proposal. I'm not your text reminder - if you aren't ready to commit, that's fine, too, but it's unprofessional to string someone along.
THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT.
This is a predicament I used to be more comfortable with. A client comes to me and says, "Yeah, I just don't know what I need or want!" Now that's relatively acceptable, in the event that they're simply looking for suggestions from me as to how we achieve a specific result. Maybe they don't understand marketing terminology or what all goes into digital marketing strategy.
However, what isn't okay is taking on a lead that has no idea what their ultimate goal is or why they are hiring you in the first place. I've had a couple of these leads also bail last minute because they decided "this wasn't the best time" (What!? There's no "magical perfect time" for marketing - the time is always, always, always now. The longer you wait, the harder the catch up to your competitors will be).
While I'm so, so blessed to have landed about 90% of the leads I've pursued, the handful that I haven't have taught me so much of who I am as a person, a business owner and what I want out of my business/what brings me the ultimate joy. I wish you the very best success in your business and hope this post gave you some insights you can put to work.
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THE BLOGGER: KATHRYN COFFMAN
Kathryn is the lead contributor + founder at FashionablyFrank.com. Obsessed with leading a life of balance, she started the blog in 2013. Since graduating college in 2016, she is now a digital marketing specialist through her business, Fashionably Frank Marketing. She believes a cup of coffee is the answer to life's problems + that all women should embrace a #girlboss mantra.