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problematic client

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by theseodude, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. theseodude

    theseodude Regular Member

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    Hi guys
    first of all, I wanted to say that I really appreciate the help I get here. I feel like this is the best place to get advice about issues because many of you guys have been through the same thing so you truly understand my situation. also, please don't be scared by the long post. it's quite interesting.

    so I have this legal/attorney website that ranks for a few keywords. I am trying to rent it to an attorney. I wanted $1000 a month. considering that the website is getting at least 10 visitors a day, and PPC charges $25 a click, I believe this is very reasonable. looking at it another way: if an attorney wanted to hire an seo company to seo their own site, it would cost $3000/month for at least 6 months. either way, $1000/month is cheap (I think so, no?)

    I have met with this group of 3 attorneys who work together in a law firm. to avoid making the post too long, I will just list all the bad things that have happened:
    They tried to get me down from $1000 a month to $300. Finally, I agreed to $400 a month and said "let's see how it goes, I may decrease or increase it"
    the next day, I emailed the main guy, asking if I could pick up the payment. He said he wants 2 months free because any time you move into a house, you get 2 months free (WTF? I have NEVER heard such thing) I said i dont do free trials. he said "ok, at least give us a week free. let's start the cycle next week"
    next week, I emailed, he said "I am not in the office now, come tomorrow"
    the next day, he told me I could go in. I went in, and he said he wants to suggest another business model. what if he pays me for every client that he gets? I said no, I dont work that way. so he went to the back room and came back with $300, saying "I dont have another $100, I will pay you later" which is complete BS.
    every day, he or his office mates email me 20 times asking for stupid changes to the site. If I dont make the change right away, they call.
    They email me garbage articles and ask me to include in the site. I have to waste my time fixing the articles.
    when I told the main guy that an seo company would charge at least $3000 a month, he said "no, this isn't 2006 any more. SEO is an $8/hr job" < exact quote.

    their excuses for not paying $1000: there is no guarantee that the site will not disappear tomorrow....and what if they dont get any leads? (not my problem)

    to summarize: these are the type of people who will take advantage of you as much as they possibly can.

    so what should I do to get paid more? I dont think I want to dump them because I have found it difficult to find people who are interested. how much do you think is a fair amount, and how should I approach them, should I be rude, should I be polite, should I be cocky, should I be humble, should I call, should I email? can you just break down what I should do?
     
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    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  2. WCO12

    WCO12 Junior Member

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    If you stay with a client like that then you and the client deserve each other.

    I get the feeling you're in over your head here.

    1. Be professional
    2. Deal with professionals
    3. Profit
     
  3. corrosion

    corrosion Registered Member

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    I'd say go and approach new clients.

    Also, shouldn't you have a contract? Don't do anything verbal (especially with lawyers), get some papers drawn up that you can use on current and future clients to avoid these kinds of situations!
     
  4. therage

    therage Senior Member

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    Right off the bat I knew you boned yourself by giving in to them. They KNEW from the poor negotiation that you were needy. Now they have the advantage in their favor instead of yours. Right now it might be way to late to be able to retake negotiation dominance in your current state and still make a profit. Your main option is to simply DROP them based on the terms that they refused to pay the remaining balance owed to you and that you recommend them to go find a $8/h SEO firm to meet their demands. Finally, you might want to get some revenge and just do some "reputation" management for what they did to you. Then go back and charge them x4 the $1000 initial monthly cost to "get rid" of any negative reputation. Also make sure they DON'T know that it was you that kindly spread their "reputation" online. If they don;t go for the reputation manage, create stealth blogs and fake reviews about them even more. I know it is frowned on to create "negative" for anything but still you could turn this back into a gold mine.
     
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  5. kvmcable

    kvmcable Supreme Member

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    Sounds to me like they've read you like a book. They see desperation and milking you for all they can get.

    When you barter and negotiate for a living, such as lawyers do, you learn to read people very well. You say dumping them is not an option, well they must know that as well and now you get to work for nothing.

    One of the hardest lessons for some business people is learning when to cut your losses and fire the customer. Most know I'm an old schooler so for me I will fire a customer in a frickin second if they question my integrity or insult me or my staff personally. I don't put up with either of those. Some of the smarter jackasses wait until we do the work to question our integrity and once we get the money they're told their business is no longer welcome. The look on their face is priceless at times.

    I suppose they think we're all like Walmart and they can treat us like total shit and we have to tolerate it. Nah, life is too short and I've earned my dues. I set the price and the terms for business we conduct. If customers have a problem with either of those they're welcome to take their business elsewhere.

    When you first start in business it's like growing a garden. You plant seeds and think everything that sprouts is a crop. After you water and watch those sprouts grow you soon learn that some of plants are weeds! Now if you don't pull the weeds and get them the hell out of your garden they'll spoil all your crops. You learn as a seasoned business person the damage a weed can do to your crops and as soon as you spot one you pull the fuker. Yank him out of the ground quick and toss him out. Soon you have a nice garden that keeps you fed but every once in a while a weed will try to sneak back in but as soon as you see him you toss his ass out for the well being of your garden.

    Sorry for the hillbilly analogy but it's one I wrote a long time ago. Grow your business like a garden and learn to quickly tell a weed from a crop.

    Good luck
     
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    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  6. ice41

    ice41 Power Member

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    Create a contract, stick with it. Your headaches will be gone in no time :)
     
  7. phpbuilt

    phpbuilt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I think the standard in the leads industry is they pay per lead. That's more fair to everyone. You get a lead and shop it around to various lawyers until you find one that wants to buy them all.

    Yeah actually, that IS your problem. If you want to do SEO and not give a crap whether its effective, start selling junky backlinks ... people will buy them and take their own risks. If you're dealing with end-clients like lawyers, its ridiculous to expect them to pay for non-performance of the only thing it is you're offering them.

    Dump them. And, its difficult to find people who are interested because you're wedging yourself into the leads market with 0 leads. If you actually know how to SEO, then you can get leads. If you can get leads, you won't have a problem selling lawyers your leads.
     
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  8. Moosey

    Moosey Senior Member

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    I'm impressed this was put very well. I'm going to agree, regardless of whether you need the cash or not, drop them! Your time is worth money and don't sell yourself short.
     
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  9. theseodude

    theseodude Regular Member

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    PHPbuilt,
    actually, it's is against the rules for lawyers to buy leads. I did try that model and didn't get a single response. of course I wouldn't, I think lawyers don't like getting disbarred.
    I dont believe if the site doesn't generate any leads I should be responsible. google doesn't refund you if someone who clicked on your ad doesn't convert. that's your problem, not google's. or if you buy business cards and the business cards don't generate any money, you can't go to the guy who printed your cards and request a refund. that's the way I look at it.
     
  10. b1step-ahead

    b1step-ahead Power Member

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    Hey, I respect the can't loose attitude and trying to keep a client. One thing that I learned and works great for me is you have to determine what your hourly rate is. Don't worry, the lawyers do it. You don't have to charge a hourly rate but figure out what your worth. Don't go less than 20 per hour or go for $500. I kind of know where I'm at. Now use freshbooks , and a task management tool to keep track of what you do, this is important cause it tells your client your serious and you keep track of your time so your not making $6 bucks an hour, it's easy to especially month 1 for any new client.

    The rented website model is a good model, however you've done all the hard work, and now here come a group of sharks bleeding you dry, know your client, lawyers are the best at it.
    My advice, try the plumbing niche, plumbing companies pay bank for referrals and wont be as viscous. Bottom line, after a few clients you land your lawyer friends, they will cut you out and not pay you, and why? Are you going to sue them...

    5 years ago I was really making the bucks charging $25 a week to post Craigslist ads for small businesses. Now, my level 1 package, the cheapest is $995 a month,(ironically I'm still posting ads craigslist for local businesses) learn, adapt and charge. Also, if a client is that much of pain in the ass in the begining, just imagine when times get tough or a misunderstanding happens... Do they have a competitor? I'm sure they do--- insert evil grin and laugh---
     
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  11. WCO12

    WCO12 Junior Member

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    It is against the rules for them to purchase referrals and recommendations, but they can pay advertising and marketing fees on a performance basis. The arrangement where you own the site, screen clients and refer them to a lawyer is against their ethics rules. The arrangement where you promote their service and they pay you for your work's ability to generate leads is not.

    That's a terrible attitude to have about it.

    You need to look at it from the eyes of the customer. He's taking a risk by paying you while getting possibly nothing in return. That's bad for his business. If you haven't filled him with confidence that you can do the job right, then your risk-adjusted value goes down.

    When you say things like, "someone else would charge you $3k for this" the first thing he's thinking is, "If your work is worth $3k then why are you selling for $400?". It's like finding an 80% off deal on "authentic Rolex watches" from some street vendor. Instantly your risk-adjusted value goes down. Also, he doesn't care what the cost is - he cares what the return is. It doesn't mean anything to him that someone else would charge $3k/month for a site that makes nothing. What matters is that you'd still charge him $400 and he gets zip.

    When you drop your price from $1k to $400 it signals to him that you don't know the value of your own product. If you can't value your own lead generation product that means you don't know what the conversion rate will be. If you don't even know what it will be then he certainly doesn't. Again, your risk-adjusted value goes down.

    When he says he wants two months free he's telling you he doesn't think your service is going to make him $1k a month and he wants a trial run to make sure. If he makes bank off of it then of course he'll continue paying. Unfortunately every step of the way you've eroded his confidence that your product is accurately priced so now he's really unsure that he'll make his money back. On top of that you didn't do things like get in writing what the deal is, what service you're providing, what the cost is for changes, what their obligations are, etc.

    I think you need to step back and think more about your customer and your sales process. Why would your customer buy this product? What is the advantage of buying the product from you and not someone else? How much can your product really make for your customer? How can I verify the conversion rate so I can continue to accurately price my product? Once you answer stuff like this you should have more than enough info and confidence to sell potential customers on the intelligence of doing business with you.
     
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  12. ice41

    ice41 Power Member

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    Well said WCO12 :congrats:
     
  13. Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage BANNED BANNED

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    Customers are allowed exactly one (1) chisel. That's it. And with that reduction in rate (whatever it is), there is an unspoken reduction in service. Little, time-consuming details that make adequate service excellent. I never give excellence at a discount. Discount customers get discounted quality.

    If you can SEO a legal site, you can Internet Market yourself as well. The world is full of attorneys. Why would you fuck around this much with this one?
     
  14. b1step-ahead

    b1step-ahead Power Member

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    "Customers are allowed exactly one (1) chisel" That is the gospel truth.
     
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  15. phpbuilt

    phpbuilt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Its not against the rules for lawyers to buy leads. Its against the rules for lawyers to do split-fees, so you can't ask for a percentage of what a lawsuit wins. Its against the rules for lawyers to actively solicit clients, for instance by being an ambulance chaser (and you wouldn't be able to chase ambulances on their behalf). But you can sell leads to lawyers all day long that originate from advertising.

    Again, no lawyer responded to you ... how many leads did you go in with? Did you say "here, look I have 20 leads for your practice, these leads are local ... and I can bring you more"? You probably went in there trying to sell them on how awesome you are and promising you can deliver (meanwhile behind-the-scenes you could care less if they convert anything).

    Lawyers get hit with promotional opportunities all day long. Yellowpages, commercials, newspapers, etc. All they're interested in is a return on investment. They could care less if a site ranks #1 in Google, unless that means they're getting a return on their money.

    I can put you in the head of an attorney really easy. Want to see why you're unable to sell attorneys anything? Here ya go ...

    Just sell them leads. Oh, you don't want to (that's not your responsibility to see that they close leads). Why don't you want to? Because $1000 per month is guaranteed. $20 per lead, on the other hand ... holy cow that means you're actually responsible for producing 50 qualified leads a month to make $1000. You don't know if you can do that, and because you don't know, its not a good deal.

    Now you know why the lawyers aren't interested. Its not a good deal for you to take the risk? Its not a good deal for them to take the risk.
     
  16. Orbit143

    Orbit143 Senior Member

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    You probably need that job, don't you? :)

    If you are dealing with experienced business man he can probably sense your insecurity and try to shake you down. You should never lower your prices for no apparent reasons, it looks unprofessional and will eventually harm your business.