I can't close a deal today because....because....I don't have a reference

46 replies
Hi there,

Today I have a meeting with a local business owner in my area. He seems to be interested in my SEO service. He asks me a lot of questions about my service and how it can help his business. Finally, he wants to see the contract that he has to sign. My heart is pounding. I guess I can close this deal for sure and leave his office with a big check in my hands

After reading a contract for 15 minutes. He turns back to me and smiles. What he said is " Before I sign a contract, can you provide me a reference? I want to talk to them about your service and how you get their websites to be on the 1st page of Google."

Holy Crap ! I want to tell him I don't have any reference because he is my first client But I can't. So I just tell him that I will give him the reference he needs once I get back to my office.

To make long story short, I leave his office today with empty hands (no check in my hands LOL )

My question is: How are you guys dealing with reference if you are just starting out the offline marketing business? I'm pretty sure my next prospect will ask for a reference again.

Thanks for your advice.
Joe

P.S. Can I borrow your clients as a reference of mine ?
#becausebecause #close #deal #today
  • Profile picture of the author Mike Grant
    Should just be straight up with the guy, even if it means going month-to-month. He'll appreciate it.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Find someone reputable who has a site at number one on google and partner up with them to outsource the work... then refer him to their site with their permission. Tell them you have a client and you will share the business with them but you need a reference.

    Simple. You and your partner both can benefit.

    Half is better than nothing, maybe alot better if you strike a good partnership... later you and your partner will have even more work to show, maybe even HIS (the client).
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    • Hey John

      Thats a pretty smart solution for Joe's predicament.

      Will keep that in mind.

      Regards

      Bronwyn and Keith
      Originally Posted by John Durham View Post

      Find someone reputable who has a site at number one on google and partner up with them to outsource the work... then refer him to their site with their permission. Tell them you have a client and you will share the business with them but you need a reference.

      Simple. You and your partner both can benefit.

      Half is better than nothing, maybe alot better if you strike a good partnership... later you and your partner will have even more work to show, maybe even HIS (the client).
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  • Profile picture of the author redcell1
    Well that was an experience. It reminds me that I need to get some references for my clients.

    Anyone want to pretend to be my references

    (I'm sarcastic but really I'm serious lol)
    Signature

    Just here to see the shenanigans.

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  • Profile picture of the author CrhisD
    Originally Posted by joe0074 View Post

    Hi there,

    Today I have a meeting with a local business owner in my area. He seems to be interested in my SEO service. He asks me a lot of questions about my service and how it can help his business. Finally, he wants to see the contract that he has to sign. My heart is pounding. I guess I can close this deal for sure and leave his office with a big check in my hands

    After reading a contract for 15 minutes. He turns back to me and smiles. What he said is " Before I sign a contract, can you provide me a reference? I want to talk to them about your service and how you get their websites to be on the 1st page of Google."

    Holy Crap ! I want to tell him I don't have any reference because he is my first client But I can't. So I just tell him that I will give him the reference he needs once I get back to my office.

    To make long story short, I leave his office today with empty hands (no check in my hands LOL )

    My question is: How are you guys dealing with reference if you are just starting out the offline marketing business? I'm pretty sure my next prospect will ask for a reference again.

    Thanks for your advice.
    Joe

    P.S. Can I borrow your clients as a reference of mine ?
    LOL.. offer to do it for someone for free if he will be your reference?
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  • Profile picture of the author chrisnegro
    Originally Posted by joe0074 View Post

    Hi there,

    Today I have a meeting with a local business owner in my area. He seems to be interested in my SEO service. He asks me a lot of questions about my service and how it can help his business. Finally, he wants to see the contract that he has to sign. My heart is pounding. I guess I can close this deal for sure and leave his office with a big check in my hands

    After reading a contract for 15 minutes. He turns back to me and smiles. What he said is " Before I sign a contract, can you provide me a reference? I want to talk to them about your service and how you get their websites to be on the 1st page of Google."

    Holy Crap ! I want to tell him I don't have any reference because he is my first client But I can't. So I just tell him that I will give him the reference he needs once I get back to my office.

    To make long story short, I leave his office today with empty hands (no check in my hands LOL )

    My question is: How are you guys dealing with reference if you are just starting out the offline marketing business? I'm pretty sure my next prospect will ask for a reference again.

    Thanks for your advice.
    Joe

    P.S. Can I borrow your clients as a reference of mine ?
    First off all... you made a mistake. The business owner should not be dictating minor things like references. If you birth a client by allowing them to "dictate" little things like this....you are conditioning them to "dictate" little things in the future. For the future PLEASE keep this in mind.

    You should have said something like this (which will definitely make him realize you are the real deal and exude confidence):

    Look...my policy is I don't reveal who my clients are...just like I wouldn't reveal that I'm working for you unless I get your permission. Furthermore, at some point here we are going to have to trust each other.

    Getting your key word #1 Google is not going to be an issue. Give me a week and you will see for yourself. Half down today gets me started and half when I'm finished. Don't worry...you will see for yourself shortly as we do this all day long.

    Are you in or are you out?


    Moving forward, for the future...you should have some references as you already know now obviously. In terms of how you play this now...it's up to you actually. I believe honesty is the best policy...but you got yourself in a pickle.

    I know what I would do...but I'd like to see what other Offliners would do in this scenario. I get a kick at some of the peoples responses on these boards. But to each their own...

    Success to you,

    Chris Negro
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    • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
      Originally Posted by mgtarheels View Post

      Should just be straight up with the guy, even if it means going month-to-month. He'll appreciate it.
      Originally Posted by chrisnegro View Post

      Look...my policy is I don't reveal who my clients are...just like I wouldn't reveal that I'm working for you unless I get your permission.
      I can work with both of those replies, be honest at all times, and yes you could relate to not sharing other clients info.
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    • Profile picture of the author joe0074
      Thank you chrisnegro,
      Your advice is awesome.
      I will keep this sentence in mind

      Joe



      Look...my policy is I don't reveal who my clients are...just like I wouldn't reveal that I'm working for you unless I get your permission. Furthermore, at some point here we are going to have to trust each other.

      Getting your key word #1 Google is not going to be an issue. Give me a week and you will see for yourself. Half down today gets me started and half when I'm finished. Don't worry...you will see for yourself shortly as we do this all day long.

      Are you in or are you out?
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        Also, it helps if you have done for your own sites what you are offering to do for the client.

        Then you tell him you don't reveal the names of your clients but can show him the results you achieved for yourself before you decided to provide the service to local businesses.

        I don't think it is odd for someone to ask for references for a service - just be prepared with an answer.

        For your first few clients, nothing wrong with telling them you are just starting your services - especially if you convince them you have done the service successfully for yourself. Offer a bit extra or a discounted price to the first few with the understanding they will provide you with a reference if they are satisfied.

        kay
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        Saving one dog may not change the world - but forever changes the world of one dog.

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      • Profile picture of the author chrisnegro
        Originally Posted by joe0074 View Post

        Thank you chrisnegro,
        Your advice is awesome.
        I will keep this sentence in mind

        Joe



        Look...my policy is I don't reveal who my clients are...just like I wouldn't reveal that I'm working for you unless I get your permission. Furthermore, at some point here we are going to have to trust each other.

        Getting your key word #1 Google is not going to be an issue. Give me a week and you will see for yourself. Half down today gets me started and half when I'm finished. Don't worry...you will see for yourself shortly as we do this all day long.

        Are you in or are you out?
        Your welcome...you will find out that part of the artwork of consulting is how to navigate situations. This one is no different. In fact, I've memorized a lot of these phrases (like the one above) and its made all the difference in the world in terms of having the impact you want.

        Other situations that you will need to learn how to navigate are as follows:

        1) The client says: "It's too much money". How are you going to respond? Do you have a phrase in the back of your hat that you can play at will?

        2) How do you secure the first meeting?. Do you have a phrase in the back of your hat that has statistically worked?

        3) How do you open your first meeting and set the tone for today's discussion?. Do you have a phrase in the back of your hat that has statistically worked?

        4) What about closing off the meeting and setting up the next one?. Do you have a phrase in the back of your hat that has statistically worked?

        5) How do you go for the close? After all ....in our line of work...we need to know how to close right?. Do you have a phrase in the back of your hat that has statistically worked?

        BONUS TIP


        My motto is If I can't make you more money...I'm not in business. I've have found if I concentrate on making my clients money....they are going to want to keep me around alot long (and then grin and smile)

        I'm telling ....as goofy as having these scripts sound....they are proven and they work. Many people on this forum do not talk about the subtle artwork of having these buzz word phrases memorized. They are kind of like cards...that you can play anytime the situation warrants it.

        Some peoples say it ALL about relationship. And its true...you need to develop relationship with your clients (make NO mistake about it) but if you don't have these types of "cards" or "scripts" to play.....(when they are warranted) you will find tough times will follow you in the beginning of your offline career. And sadly...this stuff is NOT being preached here on this forum.


        Success to you,

        Chris Negro
        Signature

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  • Profile picture of the author GoGetta
    Yep,

    Be straight up, tell him he is your first client. Sweeten the deal with maybe a little added extra because it is your first client. Also, explain that you have been an internet marketer for a while and have been just working on your own campaigns. You have only just decided to use your expertise with local businesses.

    If you be honest, he will respect that and the chances are he will give you a shot!

    Hope you get the client! ; )

    GoGetta
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Some of the advice on this thread is good some is not...

    Given your situation the following is what you should have told him while looking straight in the eye.

    Mr. Owner, I do not have any references for you.

    Let me explain it to you this way...

    I reach in my file cabinet and hand pick my VERY best clients. Everything went completely perfect! Completed everything without a hitch!

    Now do you think that is a fair representation of any business? Don't you think things happen and get screwed up sometimes?

    Owner, yes.

    I mean haven't you made mistakes with clients?

    Owner, yes.

    So what was the true measure of your business at the point in time? It was how you handled the mistake, right?

    Owner, right.

    Ok so no reference list, but one thing I can look you straight in the eye and say. I make good on my mistakes because things don't always go perfect.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Now, that's one response.

    Knowing a bit more about your situation you could also reply as follows.

    Mr. Owner, I am already successful with my very own web sites that are ranked very well on the first page of Google, and they make me money, enough money that I don't have to be here and I'll be happy to show them to you as well, but the thing is this...

    I am here because I decided to start making a difference in the lives of small business owners who have been taken advantage of by hucksters calling on the phone and selling them Paid Advertising as a way to be on the first page of Google.

    pause looking him straight in the eye. Timing is everything, as soon as it looks likes he's about to respond you say.

    But truth is your my first client but it does not matter, I am already successful for myself in the very service I am offering you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Originally Posted by joe0074 View Post

    Thank you chrisnegro,
    Your advice is awesome.
    I will keep this sentence in mind

    Joe



    Look...my policy is I don't reveal who my clients are...just like I wouldn't reveal that I'm working for you unless I get your permission. Furthermore, at some point here we are going to have to trust each other.

    Getting your key word #1 Google is not going to be an issue. Give me a week and you will see for yourself. Half down today gets me started and half when I'm finished. Don't worry...you will see for yourself shortly as we do this all day long.

    Are you in or are you out?


    Listen guys...

    In all seriousness telling your prospect you don't reveal your clients is not what to tell people.

    First off its exactly what they don't want to hear.
    Secondly it makes you instantly suspect of having something to hide, true or not.
    Its about what they perceive.
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    • Profile picture of the author chrisnegro
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      Listen guys...

      In all seriousness telling your prospect you don't reveal your clients is not what to tell people.

      First off its exactly what they don't want to hear.
      Secondly it makes you instantly suspect of having something to hide, true or not.
      Its about what they perceive.
      I laugh at this advice ... but more power to you if it works for you. But would not advice this if you were in Joe's shoes. Make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT...Joe should have had references in the beginning...but because he didn't.... my phrase is what I would have said.

      However, you HAVE TO ADOPT a style you are comfortable with. What is comfortable to you....may not be comfortable with someone else.

      My motto is TAKE THE PRINCIPLE OF WHAT YOU PERCEIVE TO BE WISE....and adopt it to your own style. My style is more aggressive and confident...but to each his own.

      For me...I've already shown my clients enough websites and marketing collateral that I don't need to prove NOTHING and automatically command their respect.

      Success to you,

      Chris Negro
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        Hey, you can laugh Chris. That's ok!

        While you might not agree with what I posted there is no need to laugh.

        I know nothing about you and you know nothing about me so you should not be so quick to judge by calling me out, don't you think?

        I've been responsible for the success of several businesses that I did not own as a closer for them.

        I have sold foreign diplomates, high ranking government officials, high powered business owners who earn MILLIONS all the way down to the janitor.

        I have pitched and closed numbers wise what it usually takes 4-5 salesmen 10 years to pitch so I know what I'm talking about and I give advice where the rubber hits the road. Not theory, not some say this because it sounds like it is what you should say, and most importantly I don't tell people to say things that are supposed to be "politically correct" as a far as what a sales person should be saying or not saying.

        Now I really would not have felt the need to reply to you like this but hey, you poked a stick in the fire by laughing at me directly.

        Originally Posted by chrisnegro View Post

        I laugh at this advice ... but more power to you if it works for you. But would not advice this if you were in Joe's shoes. Make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT...Joe should have had references in the beginning...but because he didn't.... my phrase is what I would have said.

        However, you HAVE TO ADOPT a style you are comfortable with. What is comfortable to you....may not be comfortable with someone else.

        My motto is TAKE THE PRINCIPLE OF WHAT YOU PERCEIVE TO BE WISE....and adopt it to your own style. My style is more aggressive and confident...but to each his own.

        For me...I've already shown my clients enough websites and marketing collateral that I don't need to prove NOTHING and automatically command their respect.

        Success to you,

        Chris Negro
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    • Profile picture of the author joshril
      Are you planning to outsource the fulfillment of this? If so, you can work out an arrangement to leverage the results/case studies of your outsourced contractor. If not, and you're planning to do the work yourself, then I'm guessing you have done SEO for your own sites at some point?

      If that's the case, then you could show him some of your own sites and as others have mentioned above, there's nothing wrong with being honest and telling him that he's your first "formal" client.

      The other thing you could do moving forward is to partner up with a firm that's already offering SEO and has case studies, testimonials, and proven results. You negotiate a percentage to send your SEO business their way and they close the deal, provide references/testimonials, and fulfill the service...

      When it comes to being asked for a reference in this case, I wonder if something in the contract didn't cause the business owner to have second thoughts. In many cases, the objection given is not the real objection.

      I'm a big fan of using very simple, easy to understand, non-legalese agreements. Many business owners get ripped off every day by advertising agencies that lock them into contracts and in many cases the business sees little to no results. It's possible he's been burned before and he's just being cautious.

      --Joshua
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    • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      Listen guys...
      In all seriousness telling your prospect you don't reveal your clients is not what to tell people.
      First off its exactly what they don't want to hear.
      Secondly it makes you instantly suspect of having something to hide, true or not.
      Its about what they perceive.
      We have to disagree to agree on that one, i have been in or around business for 30 plus years now, and i have a very strong no tell policy, almost everyday i have people who want to see my clients websites / how i have set them up or how i have their accounts set up as some moral grounds or justification for my trust.

      My answer is and will always be, my clients information is confidential and will remain that way, no corners no if buts or maybes, and if any one says to me that i am trying to hide something or what ever my answer is very simple, "thank you for you time and i wish you well in finding a suitable solution to your current problem"

      I simply will not bend that rule for any one or anything, and i will happily loose business than change that stance.
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      • Profile picture of the author joshril
        [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        That's great that you have a do not tell policy.

        But for people just starting out and who might be a little shaky in their words, maybe a little nervous that statement is not going to fly plain and simple.

        Of course if you don't need some ones business, then if they don't like that you won't reveal your clients so they can feel comfortable or whatever that that is fine. You can tell them good luck.

        References lists are a bunch of B.ULL crap. Always have been always will be, I never needed one, never used one, and I don't advice people to use them either.

        As I mentioned early if you really examine it a reference list is not the true measure of a company. People ask for a reference list for one reason, they want to address their own inner fear that you/we are the right choice.

        The right choice is the person who makes mistakes and takes care of their client no matter what. That is what people are looking for, there is no perfect business and reference's "ONLY" portray something that is not reality.

        We can agree to disagree and that is perfectly ok with me. I just think my perspective transcends most of the stuff preached on this section of the forum about selling. That comes across arrogant I know, but it is the truth.

        Originally Posted by tryinhere View Post

        We have to disagree to agree on that one, i have been in or around business for 30 plus years now, and i have a very strong no tell policy, almost everyday i have people who want to see my clients websites / how i have set them up or how i have their accounts set up as some moral grounds or justification for my trust.

        My answer is and will always be, my clients information is confidential and will remain that way, no corners no if buts or maybes, and if any one says to me that i am trying to hide something or what ever my answer is very simple, "thank you for you time and i wish you well in finding a suitable solution to your current problem"

        I simply will not bend that rule for any one or anything, and i will happily loose business than change that stance.
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        • Profile picture of the author BrashImpact
          It all starts with Positioning, if you have positioned
          yourself as the expert, the little things are irrelevant. ( Like References )

          I for one, never provide them, and we now position ourselves way
          different than 5 years ago. The only way someone gets to us
          is via Referral. We charge $500 for a 1 hour interview. Yes we interview
          the client to decide who we want to work with. It can and will give
          you Massive Leverage from the word go.

          We require Payment in Full before we lift a finger. It separates the tire
          kickers from Players. You want to work with players who can afford
          your services.

          2ndly when we are going through the Interview we always Bam-Fam
          the clients, Book a Meeting From a Meeting. ON the second meeting
          i am Charging them According for developing their USP and all the internal
          pieces to creating one thing.....RESULTS thats all they care
          about.

          In this case, what else are you offereing besides #1 GOOGLE ? That cannot
          possibly be this business owners Solution without the Other Integral Parts...

          For a simple Solution use what John Durham Discussed, Get a partner if thats
          a Deal Breaker. If you need a Reference, contact me, but its going to Cost.

          Good luck no matter what you decide, for what its worth, in the future,
          POSITION YOURSELF AS THE EXPERT.

          Regards,
          Robert
          Signature

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          • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
            I think you have a great perspective and I like your Avatar. If I perceive it correctly you don't like a lot of the stuff being talked about or promoted on this section of the forum.

            Its about it how to make money without really showing a business how to be successful through positioning themselves in the market place.

            I have to say on others behalf that its alright if some one wants to only offer certain services but its the spirit in which they do that can be a problem.

            Making some one think that being in the first spot on Google is going to explode their business is just going to end up causing themselves problems and unhappy clients.

            It seems there is a clash between the consultants who advise people on a complete marketing system that positions their clients and those who just want to offer services and leave the positioning to the business owner, who like most, have no clue about positioning.

            Referral prospects should not need a reference and if they are asking then one should re-examine how they are communicating to the prospect.

            As I said like three times already? Referral lists and references are just a bunch of hog wash because hey are all hand picked perfect scenario clients. That is not reality plain and simple.

            It kind of reminds me of the scene in Tommy Boy about the box with a guarantee on it. The product inside can be crap so the guarantee is worthless anyways.

            Originally Posted by BrashImpact View Post

            It all starts with Positioning, if you have positioned
            yourself as the expert, the little things are irrelevant. ( Like References )

            I for one, never provide them, and we now position ourselves way
            different than 5 years ago. The only way someone gets to us
            is via Referral. We charge $500 for a 1 hour interview. Yes we interview
            the client to decide who we want to work with. It can and will give
            you Massive Leverage from the word go.

            We require Payment in Full before we lift a finger. It separates the tire
            kickers from Players. You want to work with players who can afford
            your services.

            2ndly when we are going through the Interview we always Bam-Fam
            the clients, Book a Meeting From a Meeting. ON the second meeting
            i am Charging them According for developing their USP and all the internal
            pieces to creating one thing.....RESULTS thats all they care
            about.

            In this case, what else are you offereing besides #1 GOOGLE ? That cannot
            possibly be this business owners Solution without the Other Integral Parts...

            For a simple Solution use what John Durham Discussed, Get a partner if thats
            a Deal Breaker. If you need a Reference, contact me, but its going to Cost.

            Good luck no matter what you decide, for what its worth, in the future,
            POSITION YOURSELF AS THE EXPERT.

            Regards,
            Robert
            Signature
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          • Profile picture of the author chrisnegro
            Originally Posted by BrashImpact View Post

            It all starts with Positioning, if you have positioned
            yourself as the expert, the little things are irrelevant. ( Like References )

            I for one, never provide them, and we now position ourselves way
            different than 5 years ago. The only way someone gets to us
            is via Referral. We charge $500 for a 1 hour interview. Yes we interview
            the client to decide who we want to work with. It can and will give
            you Massive Leverage from the word go.

            We require Payment in Full before we lift a finger. It separates the tire
            kickers from Players. You want to work with players who can afford
            your services.

            2ndly when we are going through the Interview we always Bam-Fam
            the clients, Book a Meeting From a Meeting. ON the second meeting
            i am Charging them According for developing their USP and all the internal
            pieces to creating one thing.....RESULTS thats all they care
            about.

            In this case, what else are you offereing besides #1 GOOGLE ? That cannot
            possibly be this business owners Solution without the Other Integral Parts...

            For a simple Solution use what John Durham Discussed, Get a partner if thats
            a Deal Breaker. If you need a Reference, contact me, but its going to Cost.p

            Good luck no matter what you decide, for what its worth, in the future,
            POSITION YOURSELF AS THE EXPERT.

            Regards,
            Robert
            Spoken like a true professional. Loved your post Robert.

            Success,

            Chris Negro
            Signature

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        • Profile picture of the author CrhisD
          Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

          That's great that you have a do not tell policy.
          Why is that? I thought real testiminal letters carried some weight, or do they not these days?
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Russ I miss seeing your face man.

    @Chris, sorry I havent gotten back to that guy from florida yet. If you have him email me at johndurham1969@yahoo.com I will let him in the alibaba forum for free and send him the report. That way he can get regular advice and support, also maybe get into some jv opportunities with others.
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    • Profile picture of the author topcaller
      Interesting discussion and some great advice on this thread.

      Joe I wouldn't spend too much time trying to salvage this client but I like John Durham's advice for doing so.

      Most clients will not check up on the references they ask for anyway but until you actually have some just be honest and say that you have just launched your business and offer them a discount for taking a chance on you.

      I would also tell them that because they are the first you are going to go so far above and beyond their expectations that they will be more than happy to be your first reference and give you a glowing testimonial to boot.

      Positioning and confidence is very important as is controlling the conversation. There is no teacher like experience so you're doing great by just getting out there and doing it.

      Chris's advice about having some objection handlers memorized is a must because you will find that you will get the same 4 or 5 objections over and over so be prepared with your answers.

      I am a big believer in preparation. Practice your presentation, practice your responses to objections, practice your close.

      Your confidence will soar and so will your sales and you'll have all the references you will ever need, but the irony is then you won't need them because you will know in your head, in your heart and in your gut that you are good and then they will know it to.
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      • Profile picture of the author chrisnegro
        Originally Posted by Nick Zopp View Post

        Interesting discussion and some great advice on this thread.

        Joe I wouldn't spend too much time trying to salvage this client but I like John Durham's advice for doing so.

        Most clients will not check up on the references they ask for anyway but until you actually have some just be honest and say that you have just launched your business and offer them a discount for taking a chance on you.

        I would also tell them that because they are the first you are going to go so far above and beyond their expectations that they will be more than happy to be your first reference and give you a glowing testimonial to boot.

        Positioning and confidence is very important as is controlling the conversation. There is no teacher like experience so you're doing great by just getting out there and doing it.

        Chris's advice about having some objection handlers memorized is a must because you will find that you will get the same 4 or 5 objections over and over so be prepared with your answers.

        I am a big believer in preparation. Practice your presentation, practice your responses to objections, practice your close.

        Your confidence will soar and so will your sales and you'll have all the references you will ever need, but the irony is then you won't need them because you will know in your head, in your heart and in your gut that you are good and then they will know it to
        .

        Nick:

        This is so true...I love it when you have all these "cards" or "scripts" to play to the business owner (which by the way are all true and legitimate) as it makes the sales and closing process so much easier.

        Success to you Nick and thanks again for sharing !

        Chris Negro
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    • Profile picture of the author chrisnegro
      Originally Posted by John Durham View Post

      Russ I miss seeing your face man.

      @Chris, sorry I havent gotten back to that guy from florida yet. If you have him email me at johndurham1969@yahoo.com I will let him in the alibaba forum for free and send him the report. That way he can get regular advice and support, also maybe get into some jv opportunities with others.
      Many thanks John for your generosity. My boy Travis is a good man and is getting married in February. Your blessing/gift came at the perfect time. Check your email also.

      Success,

      Chris Negro
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  • Profile picture of the author John Callaghan
    There's definitely some lively debate in this thread!

    Handling the references question when you're a seasoned pro is easy. Handling it when you're a rookie is nerve racking. But in both cases you have got to have your answer planned out and be ready to reply confidently. It's not...no references =no deal. It's...no confident reply = no deal.

    The real problem I see in Joe's original posting is that it took the prospect 15 minutes to read a contract. That tells me that the contract is too long.

    There is a time and place for long contracts but when you're starting out that will just get in your way.

    My advice....create a Statement of Work form that you can fill in with the client. It should already have your standard payment terms on it. You add in the tasks to be performed and the prospect signs it.

    Also, keep the initial project (and price) relatively small. When you're just starting out, and have no track record, don't try to sell an ongoing seo monthly service as your opening engagement with a new client. You can sell them that eventually but don't lead with that as the starting point.

    For example, you could tell the prospect that the best way to start an seo project is to establish a baseline that clearly defines his starting point. To do this you are going to set up google analytics for them, evaluate his website, check out his competitors, and produce a brief report. Have a sample copy of the report that you can show him (with the client's name conveniently blacked out).

    In reality the baseline report is just a combination of information from google analytics, google keyword tool, seocentro, quantcast, etc. and it probably won't take you more than 1 hour to produce. Charge a small fee for doing the research and producing the report, something around $100 or $200.

    When you're only charging $100, and they can picture outcome (the sample report), you will rarely get the reference question.

    Once you've sold the baseline project, and delivered a great report, it's time to sell the month to month seo services. The chances of you getting the reference question at this point are extremely small (unless you messed up on the report project).

    This also gives you a chance to evaluate the customer and see if this is someone you want to work with. There's lots of prospects out there and the last thing you want to do is get caught up in a long term deal with someone that is going to annoy you every step of the way.

    John
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  • Profile picture of the author Pat Ordenes
    The first client I landed mentioned during our second meeting that he'd like to know who else, i'd done this for..
    You could go on the whole "client privacy policy" angle... but to me, that smells a little... so I can only imagine what my prospect would think...

    My response to my first soon to be client was:
    "I haven't done this for anyone else, other than me and my sites, that's why you're only getting me for 1k a month... but if you're that worried, I'll refund ALL your money in 3 month's time, cool?"

    It's been 10 months and he's still on board.

    Just make sure you can deliver what you promise.
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    • Profile picture of the author joshril
      Originally Posted by Pat Ordenes View Post

      The first client I landed mentioned during our second meeting that he'd like to know who else, i'd done this for..
      You could go on the whole "client privacy policy" angle... but to me, that smells a little... so I can only imagine what my prospect would think...

      My response to my first soon to be client was:
      "I haven't done this for anyone else, other than me and my sites, that's why you're only getting me for 1k a month... but if you're that worried, I'll refund ALL your money in 3 month's time, cool?"

      It's been 10 months and he's still on board.

      Just make sure you can deliver what you promise.
      Great advice Pat!

      Honesty plus a SOLID risk reversal which made it a no-brainer for the prospect to say yes...

      Great stuff!

      --Joshua
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  • Profile picture of the author Nathan Alexander
    Honesty in this case could work very well...

    Why?

    Because assuming you know what you're doing (you can provide the services you claim - and do so extraordinarily well) the rest is communication.

    Your nervousness comes from being "called" on not having done what you allude to. I'm not saying you imply you've done this for other people, but it's a natural assumption.

    Why not address that problem directly? Why not turn it to your advantage?

    Imagine not being nervous because you're not running or hiding from anything?

    The key in this environment is supreme, unhesitating confidence and actual skills that can deliver. If you have the latter, practice the former through remembering, you're giving great value, they should want to work with you.

    There is still work to be done. You have to sell the person that that is the case.

    Honesty? If you really believe in your skills, have a strong guarantee AND you've qualified your prospects right, the rest is confidence and communication of that assurance.

    Rus gave you some great advice about what to say above. And he obviously knows what he's talking about.

    I just like to keep in mind that being honest is so easy. Everything can be "spun" in your favor. And being honest means you have to keep less notes.

    Find a way to turn that "apparent" lack of work history into a golden opportunity for your new client through a great guarantee (not everyone believes in as strong as ones as me however, that'll be up to you).

    All in all? Show him lack of clients does not equal lack of skills - and you can prove it rather quickly with nothing to lose on his part, and everything to gain. It's a win-win for you both.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      Hey bro,

      First, thanks for the kudos! I'm glad some one sees the practical advice I have in regards to how he could have replied. I hope the op takes the advice.

      You are so right that lick of clients does not equate to lack of skills. The OP actually has his own sites that rank very well on Google and "IF" he had been thinking on his feet he would have used those as his reference.

      Not pointing a finger at you in a bad way Joe, its easy to be taken aback when your new and then get a little flustered and not know what to say or how to retort.



      Originally Posted by Nathan Alexander View Post

      Honesty in this case could work very well...

      Why?

      Because assuming you know what you're doing (you can provide the services you claim - and do so extraordinarily well) the rest is communication.

      Your nervousness comes from being "called" on not having done what you allude to. I'm not saying you imply you've done this for other people, but it's a natural assumption.

      Why not address that problem directly? Why not turn it to your advantage?

      Imagine not being nervous because you're not running or hiding from anything?

      The key in this environment is supreme, unhesitating confidence and actual skills that can deliver. If you have the latter, practice the former through remembering, you're giving great value, they should want to work with you.

      There is still work to be done. You have to sell the person that that is the case.

      Honesty? If you really believe in your skills, have a strong guarantee AND you've qualified your prospects right, the rest is confidence and communication of that assurance.

      Rus gave you some great advice about what to say above. And he obviously knows what he's talking about.

      I just like to keep in mind that being honest is so easy. Everything can be "spun" in your favor. And being honest means you have to keep less notes.

      Find a way to turn that "apparent" lack of work history into a golden opportunity for your new client through a great guarantee (not everyone believes in as strong as ones as me however, that'll be up to you).

      All in all? Show him lack of clients does not equal lack of skills - and you can prove it rather quickly with nothing to lose on his part, and everything to gain. It's a win-win for you both.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        I don't do offline IM - but I have years of outside sales experience.

        . My heart is pounding. I guess I can close this deal for sure and leave his office with a big check in my hands
        Just a caution - the moment your mind goes to "big check for me"...your customer is very likely to pick up on that. That's when he might ask an awkward question or seem to pull back.

        There is a problem inherent in telling someone "what to say" in a sales situation. You can sell offline IM whether you approach it as a business professional or a used car salesman. Either approach works if you are comfortable with it....and there are other approaches, too.

        kay
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        • Profile picture of the author Amber Jalink
          A few things came to mind when I was reading this:

          Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

          <snip>I have to say on others behalf that its alright if some one wants to only offer certain services but its the spirit in which they do that can be a problem.

          Making some one think that being in the first spot on Google is going to explode their business is just going to end up causing themselves problems and unhappy clients.

          It seems there is a clash between the consultants who advise people on a complete marketing system that positions their clients and those who just want to offer services and leave the positioning to the business owner, who like most, have no clue about positioning.

          I just read yesterday from a private membership I'm part of, a little "skit" where a Marketing guy was going back and forth with the owner, and the owner kept saying, "But the other guy said #1 on Google"... and the marketing guy kept rebutting it with "but what if" questions... till at the end, the owner finally realized that this marketing guy actually KNEW what he was talking about, and not just pitching "#1 on Google". Near the end, the owner says, "I wonder if the other guy WORKED for Google". (LOL).

          Maybe you had to read it, but it was quite cute in the way it was presented.

          The point being, like Russ said, #1 doesn't mean better traffic necessarily. And heck, you could have all the traffic you want - but you need to convert as well. (Reading Russ' post made me recall this skit in my mind)

          Originally Posted by John Callaghan View Post

          <snip>
          The real problem I see in Joe's original posting is that it took the prospect 15 minutes to read a contract. That tells me that the contract is too long.

          John - I thought the exact same thing, why on earth did it take the prospect 15 minutes to read through the contract??

          My immediate thoughts were:
          1) its too long
          OR
          2) the guy is stalling... trying to find a reason...

          He's possibly not convinced, or he is a tirekicker. And if that's the case, he's just wasting your time Joe.


          Originally Posted by Pat Ordenes View Post

          The first client I landed mentioned during our second meeting that he'd like to know who else, i'd done this for..
          You could go on the whole "client privacy policy" angle... but to me, that smells a little... so I can only imagine what my prospect would think...

          My response to my first soon to be client was:
          "I haven't done this for anyone else, other than me and my sites, that's why you're only getting me for 1k a month... but if you're that worried, I'll refund ALL your money in 3 month's time, cool?"

          It's been 10 months and he's still on board.

          Just make sure you can deliver what you promise.
          Pat - that's a great response and shows it works

          Amber
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  • Profile picture of the author Pointer
    There are a lot of ways to handle this as other members have pointed out.

    I think you should feel that you can be totally honest and upfront with him. Tell him your experience and why you believe you and help him with his SEO. Tell him that this is a new service you're offering to small businesses, but you're not new to the game since you've done it for yourself.

    I'd also tell him to look out for other SEOs who show all sorts of rankings. SEOs can show #1 positions on low volume keywords that have little value for the business. You can tell him that these things might look impressive to clients (who don't know better), but in reality don't help build the proper traffic for the client's website.

    Let him know that you offer a personal service and what is done for one client doesn't necessarily equate to what you'll do of him.
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  • Profile picture of the author fm1234
    Smarter guys than myself have responded here, but for what it's worth:

    1) Don't lie.

    2) And don't show your other clients.

    If you're actually capable of doing what you're selling, then you shouldn't have any problem putting together a small portfolio of 10-20 pages in a variety of niches that are ranking and getting traffic.


    Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Ok, maybe I am noob here but I just don't see why its so important not to show a client that you've done work for.

    Its not like we are really working on multiple clients in the same niche, especially if your doing Google Places.

    Now if you have a client in the same niche as your prospect I would just show them an unrelated niche.

    There is not much they can get from a glance anyways, and they'd still need to know the mechanics behind the scenes that got the results for them anyways.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrashImpact
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      Ok, maybe I am noob here but I just don't see why its so important not to show a client that you've done work for.

      Its not like we are really working on multiple clients in the same niche, especially if your doing Google Places.

      Now if you have a client in the same niche as your prospect I would just show them an unrelated niche.

      There is not much they can get from a glance anyways, and they'd still need to know the mechanics behind the scenes that got the results for them anyways.
      Russ here is why i never ever show.... I make clients sign a Confidentiality agreement if we take them on after the interview. I stress to them how important it is to have HIGH CONFIDENTIALITY... Why? One i dont want anyone who might resemble competition to know its me behind the scenes and what we are doing. 2ndly-I recieve and give a lot of very secret proprietary information, so my expectation is SILENCE. If consultants are working the Big Picture, the USP and everything in between, it just makes good business sense.

      The same reason none of us have a clue what GOOGLES algorhthim is... Make sense.

      Theres a lot more reasons, but #1 when ur in the Bigger leagues it has to be this way IMHO, and your habits make you. So start the habit from the word go, never an issue.

      Not to mention, that showing other clients work is actually a DEVALUATION and Demonstration of Lower Value, Might suggest you look into a NLP book or 2, makes big difference.

      Hope this gives you a little insight my friend...and LMAO at your White Out Pic

      Regards,
      Robert
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      • Hi warriors

        While the cats away the mice will play....LOL

        Anyway, all perspectives have value. The best one to work with is the one that works for YOU and YOUR customers/clients.

        BTW - not all customers are alike and not all sales pitches will work for everybody. You need to temper your approach to suit the situation and the client.

        Try and avoid the Boilerplate scripts and work with the client to find out what they need - then give it to them - at a price of course.

        Regards

        Bronwyn and Keith
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        I see your points and I especially would be confidential on any proprietary business methods or systems, however showing a prospect that you did work for such and such company does not really reveal any secrets.

        If your clients are not allowed to divulge to other prospective business that could or want to use your service how do you practice attraction marketing? I mean they would not be able to give you any referrals no?

        Yeah I don't think to many people get my Avatar joke though. hehe

        Originally Posted by BrashImpact View Post

        Russ here is why i never ever show.... I make clients sign a Confidentiality agreement if we take them on after the interview. I stress to them how important it is to have HIGH CONFIDENTIALITY... Why? One i dont want anyone who might resemble competition to know its me behind the scenes and what we are doing. 2ndly-I recieve and give a lot of very secret proprietary information, so my expectation is SILENCE. If consultants are working the Big Picture, the USP and everything in between, it just makes good business sense.

        The same reason none of us have a clue what GOOGLES algorhthim is... Make sense.

        Theres a lot more reasons, but #1 when ur in the Bigger leagues it has to be this way IMHO, and your habits make you. So start the habit from the word go, never an issue.

        Not to mention, that showing other clients work is actually a DEVALUATION and Demonstration of Lower Value, Might suggest you look into a NLP book or 2, makes big difference.

        Hope this gives you a little insight my friend...and LMAO at your White Out Pic

        Regards,
        Robert
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        • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
          Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

          If your clients are not allowed to divulge to other prospective business that could or want to use your service how do you practice attraction marketing? I mean they would not be able to give you any referrals no?

          Yeah I don't think to many people get my Avatar joke though. hehe
          Russ, not disclosing your clients interests to people who drop in off the street and asking questions is very different and has no bearings on any one who wishes to offer a testimonial or a reference to your products and services, those things are great to have and use if you wish / have them.

          The face thing i think this would look better over your original image, make it look neater.

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          • Hey Pete

            Rus would look awesome in that.

            The Phantom of the Warrior Forum - it's sort of gotta ring to it...LOL

            Regards

            Bronwyn and Keith
            Originally Posted by tryinhere View Post

            Russ, not disclosing your clients interests to people who drop in off the street and asking questions is very different and has no bearings on any one who wishes to offer a testimonial or a reference to your products and services, those things are great to have and use if you wish / have them.

            The face thing i think this would look better over your original image, make it look neater.


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            • Profile picture of the author SuccessBlogsUK
              It's a common request for clients to ask for references etc. There's no denying that or getting away from that fact.

              This thread as I see it is more about whether you should give a client a reference or say that my clients are confidential. That's great when you already have clients, you can choose which method suits you best.

              However the question that started this thread was from someone that hasn't got any previous clients and has been asked for a reference from a potential new client.

              What's the best way to handle it?

              Be honest with the guy. Starting a business relationship with a little white lie is not definitely not the way forward. You may have to remember that tale in the future and if you don't, you could get caught out, and lose your credibility and a client.

              Be human with the client, don't try and impress him with the quality of your service. He's probably heard the words quality and service a million times and it wont mean much to him. It's what every sales person tells him.

              People like real life stories, instead tell him something like "I will work at my computer drinking warm coke and eating cold pizza until I achieve what I have promised you. And then maybe I can use you as a future reference".

              Just remember, people buy from people. Be honest, under promise and over deliver.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Yeah, I just don't see that being an issue. Also then, how do you overcome that when you start getting referrals who know each other?
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  • Profile picture of the author fm1234
    To clarify what I mean by not giving referrals -- I would show some referrals who had agreed to be used as examples. When I was doing web design this was standard practice; offer the client a discount on final payment in exchange for permission to show their site as an example of completed work, and a willingness to follow up on an e-mail from a potential new client of mine should it go that far. What I would not do is simply rattle off one or any other number of past clients, in any business.

    If someone asks you for referrals, he's asking one or both of these things:

    1) Can you do what you actually claim to do?

    2) Can you be trusted to honour your commitments?

    A sample portfolio of your own work addresses the first question. Generally I would defer on the second question unless it was absolutely necessary, because it involves a third party into negotiations. It's not a matter of hiding anything -- just a matter of keeping the negotiation process as focused as possible.


    Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author fvandy
    I started my Offline business by helping a few friends with their websites for free. Once they got to page #1 they were glad to give me a reference.
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