Recently I wrote about a few of the warning signs of a bad SEO reseller. That made me think about the other side of the coin: What are the warning signs of a bad customer? When you’re in business for yourself there are many pressures, not the least of which is finding new clients and adding revenue. If you already have a base of good customers you might assume every prospective client will be like them, but be alert-- they may not be.

Let’s discuss a few of the bad types.

The Tire Kicker: This is the kind of customer whose strategy is to find fault with everything you offer in an attempt to get you to lower your price. The Tire Kicker will act like an expert, somebody who “knows the ropes.” When you’re pitching them they’ll contradict you, demean your ideas or product, claim that others do the same for less or disparage the business in general with statements like, “SEO is unproven,” or “I would do this myself if I had the time.” If you take them on as clients you can expect more of the same. They will constantly deride your efforts, belittle the results and repeat- over and over- how they are “letting” you do the work.

The Sponge: Similar to the Tire Kicker, the Sponge has a business strategy of wringing every last drop out of a vendor under the misguided idea that this improves “value.” The Sponge will waste your time…on purpose. The Sponge will call you wanting more and more. More frequent reports, data stated in different formats, daily contact and your accomplishments will never be enough. In addition, the Sponge will constantly scout for additional services and demand that you add them to your package at no extra charge. The Sponge has the mentality of the All-You-Can-Eat buffet customer. An SEO reseller who would like to have a life would do well to pass on the Sponge.

The Flash: This is the customer who loves the flashy website. They believe, with no supporting data, that sites with lots of Flash, dancing GIFs, magical front doors and the like, result in improved ranking. They want their site to be “hot” even if that means that it will load slowly and offer no valued content to their visitors. Basically, the Flash is an amateur. They don’t understand marketing and how SEO functions. Frankly, they don’t want to. They just want to be cool.

The Scoffer: This client wants to squeeze you for more. They do it by dismissing your work and data. They claim to have an assortment of marketing efforts and that your SER improvements are the result one of them. To the Scoffer you are always under performing, never giving enough, never succeeding. SEO improvements will always be attributed to some other thing the Scoffer did, not anything you did.

The Relative: This is a situation rather than a personal type. Here, a key player in the SER process is related to the client/owner. Maybe it’s the web designer or IT person or marketing manager. The relative has undue authority and therefore power over the process. An example is the family web designer who is loath to give up gimmicks, write or add content, or blog. Under normal circumstances you could persuade the client to the facts of proper SEO methods but when a relative is in the equation…good luck.

The Stiff: This one is easy but you may not know until you have a contract. The stiff doesn’t pay on time. They offer many, varied reasons but the situation is always the same. When looking at potential customers ask for some references. Check the company’s profile and credit rating if practical. Make sure your contract specifies the payment term and that you can terminate the deal for chronic lateness.

The bottom line is... Time is money Don’t let clients waste yours. Quality of life matters too. If a prospective customer treats you like a used car salesman, take a pass. The situation will not improve. It will be torture and inevitably dissolve into an acrimonious separation. Look for clients who respect what you say and do. Evaluate potential customers as professionals. It is significant that a client demonstrates knowledge of both the business and service they are buying. But beware of the know-it-all, a person who belittles SEO and your product, or tries to squeeze your fee.

If they want to flim-flam somebody send them to a competitor.