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When to say no to a prospective client

Forrest Marketing Group Blog blog

When to say no to a prospective client

It’s never easy saying no to a prospective client and we’re lucky that we don’t have to say it often. But, sometimes saying no is the right thing for all parties, especially the prospect. That’s because an outsourced lead generation campaign is not going to give the prospective client what they are looking for and as much as we relish a challenge, it would be dishonest not to let them know when the campaign they want us to run will not work for them.

In our experience, there are 4 key hallmarks that tell us when an outsourced sales campaign is not going to work for a prospective client.

Their product or service offering is too ‘vanilla’

Before we start working with any prospective client, we need to get a clear understanding of their offer, their products/service, the challenges those products/services solve for their customers/clients. We can then take their value proposition and craft an engaging and compelling message that we know will land with their prospects.  But we run into problems when the client doesn’t have a compelling enough offering or simply offers a standard service that most businesses already have, meaning that real creativity is required to engage their prospect.  It is rare, but if we can’t craft a ‘stand-out’ message, we know the campaign won’t gain traction and deliver the desired outcomes and therefore we won’t let the prospective client proceed.  Examples of what I call “vanilla” offerings are businesses that are hard to differentiate from each other, such as Accountants (every business has one of these and most of them do the same things).  Clients like this need a creative approach in order to engage their prospects, otherwise, their campaign will fail.  I’m pleased to say that one of our longest clients happens to be an Accountancy firm, who we’ve been working with successfully for over 8 years.

The right target market can’t be clearly identified

Knowing who to call is crucial to every successful lead generation campaign, and the right market is never ‘everyone’. Opening the phone book (if you still used them) and calling through an arbitrary list is not going to yield quality results and deliver the ROI every client is looking for. Instead, we need to understand who is the “right” target market to call and we work closely with prospective clients to identify this for them.  Even if you could sell to “everyone”, the best sales leads may be larger organisations, or it may be that those in specific industries will have a higher need for the product or service, so we want to make sure this is who we are calling and that we are connecting with the right audience. We want our agents spending their time nurturing decision-makers who have the potential to become valued customers, so if we can’t identify their market with a prospective client, we won’t achieve great results and we won’t run a campaign for them.

They have unrealistic expectations

Having realistic expectations from the beginning is vital to success. After all, this is sales and it takes time to build momentum, uncover opportunities and for the client’s sales teams to close deals no matter where those leads come from. There’s no magic bullet to get around this, and that’s just as true with outsourced lead generation campaigns.

When a prospective client does not have a long-term view of lead generation, we have to say no to them.  While we will generate leads from week 1, actual sales always take longer.  If the client’s normal sales cycle is 6 months, it will take at least this long to get sales from our leads.  Most of our campaigns only start to deliver really strong ROI after 7 or 8 months, though there are exceptions where the sales cycle is short so a client who is expecting to see sales results in just a few short weeks will inevitably be disappointed. Sticking with a consistent approach, though, and you can see results like these.

ROI, budget restraints and ability to fund an ongoing campaign

It’s rare for a potential client to come to us with a clear understanding of the return on investment (ROI) their campaign will achieve, nor how much cashflow the campaign will require before it starts to make sales for them. But it is important that they have a clear understanding of both of these before they undertake a campaign with us. Before we agree to run a campaign for new clients, we calculate with them the likely ROI and we map out the cashflow implications, effectively building a budget for them using our expected metrics and theirs so that they can see what the ROI and cash flow will look like over the first two years of their campaign and that they are comfortable with this before committing to a campaign with us.  This forecast is vital for us to validate whether the campaign is going to be viable for them and when it’s likely to become a profitable sales channel – that it makes financial sense for them to run it.

We always take a measured and conservative approach when putting together this forecast and if there is no ROI, or if the cash flow is too hard for them to manage, then they can see this upfront, before commencing work with us. This keeps the whole operation completely transparent. The prospect sees upfront whether it’s worthwhile to invest in the outsourced lead generation campaign they are planning and if they’ll achieve the level of ROI that they are hoping for.  They can also understand the cash flow impact in the first few months of working with us. But most importantly, we ensure that we are all on the same page prior to commencing to work together and we can use this forecast to track actual performance with projected to make sure that things are always on track.

Ultimately, we believe that it comes down to being trustworthy and straightforward in our approach from the outset. We want to sell services that help our clients achieve their sales goals and allow them to build sales and a healthy pipeline to weather the current uncertain business landscape.

To find out more about our services, click here.  If you’d like to have a chat about how we can help you achieve your sales goals, please get in touch by calling 1300 396 888 or drop us an email to

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