32 replies
A year or so back I had a meeting with a client that I had provided with a Facebook fan page. I was putting together a comprehensive marketing plan for the business. I put a lot of time and effort into this marketing plan for them and it included everything from social media to ppc.

I basically set up a whole presentation for them laying out almost everything that I planned to do. They listened diligently and took notes about my proposed strategy and afterwards told me that they would get back to me.

I followed up and learned that they would not be requiring my services... Bummer, but it has happened before...

A month or so later I was browsing the web for more leads and I noticed that said company had started doing some of the things that I had proposed to them!

They had basically used me for ideas and then did it themselves...

I was pretty upset about this since I thought I could trust them since they were already a client of mine.

Just wanted to share that story with everyone so that it doesn't happen to you...

Be careful when pitching ideas to clients! Just include the basics and make sure that you keep your secrets to yourself...

Justin
#client #proposal
  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    I tell my clients what I'll do, but never exactly how I'll do it. Sorry this happened.
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    • Profile picture of the author Vladcanada
      That sucks.

      Molotov cocktails are fun. Just saying
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      • Profile picture of the author shockwave
        One of my buddies who has his own Agency used to take that same approach. I told him to start charging clients just for a discussion (no "free consultations").

        Now, he gets paid to chat with them for 2 hrs (and of course makes sure to build a ton of rapport and value along the way). And they already know up-front, that if they choose to use his services, they get like 30 - 50% of the money credited to whatever service they provide.

        This kind of budget qualifies potential clients essentially weeding out tire-kickers and at the same time keeps them from "stealing" your ideas. And if they do, big deal! You got paid to educate them - and they will still have to implement it themselves or find someone else to do it.
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        • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
          Originally Posted by shockwave View Post

          One of my buddies who has his own Agency used to take that same approach. I told him to start charging clients just for a discussion (no "free consultations").

          Now, he gets paid to chat with them for 2 hrs (and of course makes sure to build a ton of rapport and value along the way). And they already know up-front, that if they choose to use his services, they get like 30 - 50% of the money credited to whatever service they provide.

          This kind of budget qualifies potential clients essentially weeding out tire-kickers and at the same time keeps them from "stealing" your ideas. And if they do, big deal! You got paid to educate them - and they will still have to implement it themselves or find someone else to do it.
          We started doing that 2 weeks ago! It is AMAZING how quickly people RUN when you tell them you aren't going to discuss things until they commit to something. We started to get lots of interest, and we'd get calls to "talk about our services" - well, most of them were people that had no clue what they wanted and were looking for advice on what we thought they should do.

          Now, when someone calls or emails, they have about 5 minutes of our time. In that time, they can either say "I'm ready to go, I'd like 30 hours of appointment setting per week" or they'll say "I'm not sure, what do you recommend...I don't have a list, and I may want to use you when I get one." The first one gets sent an invoice and then we do a set up call once it's paid. Tirekickers run like the wind. The second gets this "well, it seems like you're not sure what you want, so let's schedule a consultation call, on it we can discuss your options, what's worked in the past or what hasn't, and what our suggestions are. It's $XX for an hour consultation, and at the end if you decide you want to use our services, we'll apply %50 of that to your first invoice." Again, tirekickers run quickly.

          It's been GREAT! Also, freed us up to do more work since we're not spending time giving free advice...that's what we get paid for!
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          • Profile picture of the author Sue Bruce
            There's an info gathering phase is sales. YOu are the one who is controlling the call and gathering the info.

            This is critical because you can make or break the sale depending on how much info you coaxed out of them. This is why so many marketers stress taking control of the call.

            The next step is to provide only enough info to let them know you are an expert. Sometimes I will do this by giving examples of past customers and the outcomes (quantitative) ex.We had a client recently who had that same problem and we were able to increase his sales by 23% the first month.

            This is why testimonials are so important, especially in the same niche.

            Don't stew over it, it happens to all of us. Live and learn!
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            • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
              Agree, it happens to everyone, in every line of work

              If you'd like a little paypack try to land his biggest competitor and then outrank him. Once you've suceeded - tell him
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    • Profile picture of the author wuser12
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      I tell my clients what I'll do, but never exactly how I'll do it. Sorry this happened.
      That's the point!
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  • Profile picture of the author Rearden
    Take it positively; it's a lesson learned.

    Sell the benefits, not features.
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    • Profile picture of the author DavePalermo
      You should've called the police and cried rape.

      WTF.

      I would've called hiss ass out on it.
      Then threw a Molotov cocktail....

      Just sayin' as well.....:rolleyes:
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  • Profile picture of the author npk
    exactly. never reveal secrets.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I get emails from people living near me who want to get together "for coffee" to discuss their ideas. I work from home in a studio appt and I NEVER meet with clients. If anybody wants to meet with me and isn't content to just discuss on the phone and via email, I tell them that I will charge them for my time. I have never lost a genuine client over that but the tyre kickers quickly disappear.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Yeah, you suffer from "show up and throw up" disease. People want to look like experts, so they share all sorts of expertise for free.

    Bad idea, as you now know.

    Move the demonstration of the solution to the end of the sales process.

    You knew nothing about these people, yet you gleefully shared your expertise with them for nothing. And they stole your ideas. They didn't need you anymore.
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    • Profile picture of the author Matt B
      Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

      Yeah, you suffer from "show up and throw up" disease. People want to look like experts, so they share all sorts of expertise for free.

      Bad idea, as you now know.

      Move the demonstration of the solution to the end of the sales process.

      You knew nothing about these people, yet you gleefully shared your expertise with them for nothing. And they stole your ideas. They didn't need you anymore.
      I was the same way when I started out. Couldn't stop spewing information.

      I was probably talking 90% of the time and the client spoke 10% of the time when it should have been the other way around.

      I like Claudes suggestion of explaining the "what" but not the "how" and I'm a big fan of paid consultations as some others have mentioned. Never do any (serious) consulting for free. We've paid with our time &/or cash for our knowledge, haven't we? So why should we give that away for free?

      We have the ability to dramatically increase revenue for companies that are willing to work with us. We should all be treated that way.
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  • Profile picture of the author mjbmedia
    He says they were already a client of his, so he did know them, but couldnt clearly trust them as he had hoped.

    What are they still a client of yours for?

    Are they making a success of implementing your ideas or hashing it up? Can you get in there to smooth the process still?
    If not and they are making a success of it, use it in your PR, write a piece for local papers etc explaining how ,following an indepth consultation with yourself where you truly and selflessly focussed on helping a local business in need for free, localbizINC have now implemented just 30% of your strategies and are already seeing the benefits, use it to your advantage , then work for three of their closest competitors to destroy them
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  • Profile picture of the author jamtrading
    you always need to be vry very careful, ive done info sessions with potential clients before and i know a lot of them are just there to get info off me and use it themselves but i am always careful not to give away too much, the secret recipe if you will always make it look like what you do it difficult for someone not in the know...
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  • Profile picture of the author Huskerdarren
    Selling a one time service does not necessarily make them a client. It was a learning lesson. Like Claude said, you could give out some things you would do, but not go into specifics of how it's executed. The ingredients within the recipe matter. And then also don't give up more than a couple of ideas. A lot of stuff isn't hard to figure out. By looking at a competitors site you see that capturing name and email or phone is a good idea. But if they don't know what to do with those names, it's a wasted effort.
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  • Profile picture of the author Justin Sardi
    All good points... I like the charging for a consultation... That was the first, and last time I made that mistake!
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  • Profile picture of the author xlfutur1
    Probably best to be a little vague when first discussing things with a client. Keep in mind that this is just one client though and there are many fish in the sea. I try to give as much value as possible without a scarcity mentality however.

    There are ALOT of companies that you could hand over everything you know to and they still wouldn't know or have the time to execute any of what you tell them. I know because I work for one that depends on me to do all of this stuff. The executives of the company I work for don't have a clue about any of it.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMnetrepreneur
    I have done this too in the past.. they invite you for coffee and you discuss. I used to share my strategies loosely.. but now I know better.

    If they really want to do business with you. Ask them for 50% upfront payment before doing anything..
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    • Profile picture of the author HimanshuS
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      I tell my clients what I'll do, but never exactly how I'll do it. Sorry this happened.
      Originally Posted by SailCreative View Post

      I have done this too in the past.. they invite you for coffee and you discuss. I used to share my strategies loosely.. but now I know better.

      If they really want to do business with you. Ask them for 50% upfront payment before doing anything..
      This happens to everybody once at least.

      I remember Dan Kennedy dropping a clue for such clients. He always charges a fee to be present at "Brain Storming" sessions, upfront. If the client is really serious about a solution, he/she is going to pay.
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  • Profile picture of the author Glowrry
    I think we should not disclose how the things will be done. But you can conclude with the conception thoughts to show that only you have the guts to do so being their working company member. But I also believe that such cases are rare and we can not be escaped from such cases. But most of the clients are great. They pay for what we do for them. And they just want to see the potential into us whether we have or not because they put their project in our hands with a deep faith in us. So it is a part of business.
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  • Profile picture of the author mjbmedia
    Yeh but for Dan Kennedy, his reputation precedes him (even many years ago though granted not everyone rates him) and its easier for him to charge than it may be for some from here, so comparing him to most of us here is a little unfair.
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  • Profile picture of the author CollegeCEO
    Had someone try to pull a similar move on me. I met with them a couple of times and kept trying to get them to buy services. Eventually they tried to ask me for more advice, I told them I'd be glad to help them out further for an hourly fee. Never heard from them again. Moral of the story is don't give away too much. Your knowledge/time is valuable, and people will try to take advantage of it. That's one of the biggest things I've learned about business in general.
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    • Profile picture of the author cisin
      Originally Posted by OmegaContent View Post

      Your knowledge/time is valuable
      This totally makes sense, I often say something like this to the inquiries I get.

      You and your time both are valuable.
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      • Profile picture of the author krtheriault
        This is what I do because that same thing happened to me -

        I give them a free consultation and ask them all the pain point questions so I have my "ammo" after the initial meeting.

        Then in the next meeting I tell them the basic ideas I have and pull out a consulting contract at the same time. The contract has my bullet pointed ideas with a short description.

        So you're not being secretive - you are telling them the actions to be taken.
        If they ask you in depth questions about the line items, just tell them that the process is really long and hard to explain. If they keep pushing you - just say you do not talk trade secrets until the initial consulting contract is signed.

        Simple as that.
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  • Profile picture of the author squadron
    I would send them an invoice for your time and see what happens. You have nothing to lose. And if they don't pay, a few interesting online reviews might teach them a lesson. Especially if you build truck-loads of backlinks to those online reviews using their business name as the anchor text.
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    • Profile picture of the author connorbringas
      Lesson learned: dont share all your secrets, just enough to lure them in as a client. Its important to know where to draw the line. If you let all your cats out of the bag, you'll have none left to maul someone later..or something like that
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  • Profile picture of the author Justin Sardi
    I forgot to add, the good thing is that they don't quite know what they are doing so although they are using my ideas, they aren't using them to their full potential... I could have done it way better for them and they would have seen much better results!
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  • Profile picture of the author WeavingThoughts
    IMO long telephone calls are better left to be charged as well. And normally if you have to charge then it makes sense only if it is $xxx+
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  • Profile picture of the author eternalsongbird
    What should I say you! Try to keep some things confidential. Draw your business strategy and say just the outline of it. Best of luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Justin Sardi
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    It's your fault for not closing him. Remember what grandma said about the cow and the milk?
    What did grandma say about the cow and the milk? All I was ever told was "don't cry over spilled milk"
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