Having that first call with a potential client is set up to feel each other out, see what they’re looking for within the digital marketing world and if your company is a fit to fulfill their needs. You’ll ask all the basic questions about their experience in the industry, what issues they currently face and where they’d like to take things from here. They’ll ask you about the agency’s services, what they should expect from working together and how experienced the agency is in their particular industry.
Sometimes those conversations can be uneventful, with you getting the information you need and them getting the answers necessary to determine if you’re a fit. In other cases, things may arise that may be a red flag, telling you that maybe this isn’t the best situation for the company and/or the prospect. Let’s take a look at a few common red flags and some possible ways to handle them.

Unrealistic Expectations

As we all know within the PPC industry, you don’t just generate leads or sales magically once campaigns are launched. It takes a lot of strategy and work, and sometimes the cost of traffic to the site combined with the revenue generated with each conversion just doesn’t add up. One prospect you’ll run into often is the one seeking this “secret sauce” to PPC that he/she believes the competition doesn’t have. This person believes no matter what performance is, it can get better. They’re not wrong in looking for better performance, but they don’t fully understand the logistics behind PPC. Speak to this person about performance within the account and where you can improve things to find more success, but don’t go along with his or her unrealistic expectations if you feel it isn’t possible. It’s important to always be honest. You don’t want a prospect to come aboard and instantly be disappointed due to unrealistic expectations. A situation like that will not only lead to a short relationship and turnover within the company, but also add additional stress for your team and fellow employees.

Industry Concerns

Some industries and business models aren’t a good fit for PPC no matter which way you slice it. You’ll run into business owners that just refuse to believe their company isn’t a fit. “I know plenty of business owners that have made PPC work”, they’ll say. And maybe they’re right. Maybe it is the previous agency’s fault for their lack of performance. Keep a close eye on this one throughout the process, though. If they start to mention how they’ve jumped from agency to agency looking for success, there’s a good chance they just aren’t a fit for PPC and refuse to accept it.

Another type of prospect who comes around often and leads to headaches is the one that Google keeps suspending. This one is desperate to find the time machine back to 2008, when the landscape within PPC was very different. They refuse to believe they can no longer run their ads on Google, which has been the main driver of their business for years. They usually contact you looking to see if you can pull some strings with Google to get their account approved. We all know it doesn’t work like that, so it’s important to explain to these prospects the reality of the situation. While this can be a difficult conversation to have, it’s a lot better than taking on a client that never gets off the ground due to the nature of their business. If you’re business gets paid off of monthly spend and they spend $0, you’re team is working for free. Be upfront and save your company the headache.

Suspended account

Nature of the Business

Ah, this is a tough one. This prospect has all the makings of a great client for years to come. The issue with this particular type of prospect is either their expectations on the actions of customers or the technology issues within their company. This information only comes out when you ask the right questions during the sales process and dig deeper when red flags arise.

For example, say the prospect is selling a product that costs $25,000. Is it realistic to expect immediate sales through PPC without any consultation or discussion with a company representative? Probably not. Most people aren’t comfortable spending that kind of money right away. In a situation like this, it’s important to voice your concern and ask if they’d be open to creating a “softer sale”, aka generate leads of potential customers that will be contacted by their team. They may not be open to ideas like this, but it’s better to have that conversation now as opposed to when performance is tanking.

In situations where the prospect is having issues tracking performance within the company, it’s important to ask follow up questions to nail down the root of the issue, as well as some potential solutions. After all, we’re being judged based off of performance. Are you tracking phone leads? Where is the conversion code being fired? What’s the process within the company once a lead is received? It’s important not to assume the prospect has the right process in place. You’ll want to uncover any and all potential issues prior to agreeing to work together. This ensures that everyone is on the same page from the start, with no surprises popping up down the road.


The sales process should be a great way to weed out the prospects that aren’t a good fit for the company. By asking all the necessary questions, you can determine what prospects will be healthy, successful partnerships for years to come. The important thing is to identify red flags within a prospect and ask the appropriate follow up questions to determine the root cause of their issue. With that, you can then determine if the issue can be fixed with hard work or if you’re better off shaking hands and walking away from any potential headaches.