How Can You Handle Losing A Client To Bureaucracy?


Joe Troyer: David Scarborough is essentially asking how to deal with losing a client to bureaucracy. And how would you handle it? And so, folks, this is a very real and this is a very raw question for the AMA. It’s long, it’s lengthy. But I think that David deserves a response. And I think it would be not good if I would cut his question short or not, you know, not talk about a specific section of it.

Joe Troyer: And so I really want to walk you guys through this example. I, over my years of running multiple agencies, building them from scratch and building them from the ground up, have ran into bureaucracy and dealing with that with clients multiple times. And every circumstance is different, okay? But I want you guys to be kind of be able to pick my brain in this regard so that you guys can skip the bumps and the bruises and hopefully get away a little more unscathed than I have, right? That’s what Digital Triggers is all about. The case studies to prove it and the software and the training to do it.

Joe Troyer: So I’m going to walk through this question and I’m going to take a second to really read it, make sure that you guys understand what’s being said, and then obviously I’ll give you guys some of my takeaways and points as well, all right? So David says “We just lost a client that’s been with us for more than five years. We have helped his company grow from two locations to four. We built and maintain their website.” He said “We use call tracking, an analytic call tracking, to track calls from a PPC campaign that we run that has some keywords getting a 14% click-through rate.” So real quick dialogue, 14% click-through rate for local is frickin’ fantastic, right? So he’s saying that they’re doing a good job.

Joe Troyer: He goes on to say “He,” I’m assuming that’s his client, “doesn’t really want to let us go but has contracted with a large marketing company to put him on the map nationally, so that he can begin selling franchises of his business. Just a couple of minutes ago, we got an email saying that this new marketing agency is using Reach Local to run PPC campaigns. No. We originally got this client because his relationship with Reach Local was terrible, driving very little business for the money he spent.” He says, and I’m assuming he, “The business owner says the reason he wants to go with the larger agency is the belief that they can do every aspect of marketing for him and really build his brand. We are now pushing back and asking that he shares with us more details on what his goals are for the next year with this company. I told him I have access to the best and brightest minds in the industry such as yourself.” I appreciate that little pat on the back. To go on, “and can get anything he needs done by the best available.”

Joe Troyer: So here is today’s email from the business owner. “I think at that point we will let this go. If I can keep the tracking and the landing pages and site open for another month or so, I can grab some calls for training purposes. I’m happy to pay for that.” So this is what the client’s saying to him. “We will us the 1-888 number on our trucks to track now, which is different. Are you available to still run our website and make edits, by chance, and keep it functioning and up to date? I think they do the work via a sub …” and he’s talking about Reach Local, “but I’d like to keep you folks still in our loop, because this project with them will not be forever, as they’re very expensive, and it will all come back to you eventually. I just don’t want to cut ties with the two professionals who I’ve come to trust over the years. If you believe they’re using Reach Local for their campaign management and partner with them exclusively, and you know what my experience with them was. They assured me that they have improved dramatically since we were bought out, and we will see. Since it’s a whole package deal and I like their work, I had to swallow this aspect.”

Joe Troyer: Says “I had to swallow this aspect.” So for me, that says that the business owner has already agreed to this. Just an important note there. “I asked if they could simply not work with you, and they said no, they have their partnership all lined out.” So David says “Questions. What would you do?” So this is a mouthful, right? But at the end of the day, I feel for David. And David is losing this client to bureaucracy. So one important thing to note here is that it sounds to me like the client has already made the decision to move to this other marketing company. So I think that the facts are important. The facts are super important, and that’s how it will go about this conversation.

Joe Troyer: So you need to know if the client has moved already. Yes or no? So that you know how to pivot and you know how to respond. I’ll tell you about a similar situation that I had. Working with a company earlier this year in 2018, as part of my agency, a client spending a whole lot of money, that we have absolutely crushed it for, and a competitor came into the scene promising a lot. Frankly, the promises were enticing, amazing, and had case studies to back it up. And without further notice or any real consideration, my client left me and my firm sitting on the sidewalk. I thought that our relationship was better than that. I thought that I had made them a whole lot of money, saved them a whole lot of money, and if anything were to ever happen, that it would be more like “Joe, what do you think about this? Do you think that we can compete with it? How do you think that we should try it?” Right? And it would be more like they come to me as more like an advisor and ask for help.

Joe Troyer: Instead, it was just basically like “This is what I’m doing, this is what I have to do, see you later.” So I’ll share with you guys what I did and how I got around it. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely pissed off, extremely upset. But at the end of the day, I had to look at the facts. And it took me a little bit to get past my anger, my frustration. “What do you mean, this client just up and left?” I frickin’ crushed it for that guy, my teams crushed for them. They’re paying us a whole lot of money. What am I gonna do without that budget? Am I gonna have to let team members go? Definitely, 100%.

Joe Troyer: And so after I got past the anger and I started to look at it really black-and-white, here’s what I discovered. First and foremost, the client already signed the agreement. The deal was done. So I could either take it and just let them cancel, was option number one. Say “sayonara” to $25,000 a month, let’s call it, in potential revenue for me from that client. I could, number two, I could go after them legally, because they were in a long-term agreement, and this was against the agreement. Or I could, three, come up with a better solution. I could come up with a way for us to continue to work together, and that’s what I did. So I came up with a better … a better fish lure, so to speak. And I went back and I resold the customer, and they accepted, they didn’t cancel the agreement, and now I got them for the rest of the term of the agreement, which was like another, I don’t know, let’s call it six or nine months.

Joe Troyer: And since then, guess what? The contract has renewed, and I got them for another 12 months at, let’s call it again, $25,000 a month. So number one, I understand that your emotions are going to get the best of you. They get the best of me in situations like that. Just try to keep your mouth shut. Take a day, sit on it, think about it. So number two is contractually, what do you have going on? And then number three, what’s the workaround? What’s the workaround? So how can you go back to your customer, how can you get them to continue to work with you, in maybe a different aspect? Maybe a little bit of a changed relationship. Maybe they can make a contingency with that marketing company, that they work one location until they get their CPA to meet or beat your CPA.

Joe Troyer: But there’s options here, don’t just throw this thing away yet. I know that it’s hard, and I’m sorry that I don’t have like exact steps for you that I would take. But look at the facts. You gotta look at the facts, and you gotta come up with a better angle to go back to them with, and you can still save this deal 100%. And at the end of the day, if you can’t save the deal, you gotta ask yourself if it’s worth burning the bridge or not. And for me, I wasn’t prepared to burn the bridge either. I wanted it long-term, because I knew long-term it would come back to me. Whether it was this company or the next company, somebody’s gonna fall on their face, they’re gonna eat it, and that client spends a lot of money on their marketing, and they’re gonna want the latest and greatest, and who are they gonna call? This guy.

Joe Troyer: So David, I really, really hope this helps, man. I hope this provides some insight for you, maybe a little bit of clarity, and gets you thinking about a different way that you could potentially handle this with you and your client.

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