Qualifying Clients Without Coming Off As Offensive

Nov 17, 2017
My Question here is 2-pronged, sales people will know a lot about this

  • Qualifying Clients Without Coming Off As Offensive
  • Been Able To Know Why Another Business Is Qualifying You So You Can Hack It

How do you qualify clients better without coming off as offensive,
i.e What's your budget? is auto guaranteed to get them defensive

When talking to chinese manufacturers for one of my brands i notice some of them were really ninja level
  • I'd ask them a question and they'll flip it/redirect me onto something else in milliseconds
  • They ask qualifying questions
How long have you been in business? (i'm guessing so they can know what prices to show me ...LoL)
What's your dominant market chanel? (now this is a lot harder to anticipate!)
  • Can you show me some of your current products so i can know what to recommend to you (LoL...you mean you really love me?)
Some really helpful tips might be similar qualification questions you've asked or been asked and what they truly mean


Staff member
BuSo Pro
Digital Strategist
Sep 3, 2014
Blame an Inanimate Object
A useful trick is to blame an inanimate, abstract object. "Our internal guidelines require me to ask you a series of questions so we can better on-board you into our system." Here you're blaming the guidelines and the system, which redirects the anger off of you. People are primed their entire life to accept rules that they hate and to hate them unjustly as normal practice. And because there's no human there, the anger dissipates very quickly.

Pre-Disqualify Them
You can also disqualify people before they even contact you. This is the best method. Think of ad networks that say "You have to have 250,000 unique visitors monthly for at least 3 months, and we don't work in these niches, and you have to be in good standing with all of these ad exchanges." If anyone bothers to contact you that's not qualified or not ready to discuss those topics, who cares if they get offended? They aren't qualified and can't be your client anyways.


King of Turd Mountain
Sep 8, 2015
I usually ask them a few questions about their business, their goals, etc... I then give them some insights about their business (show them I know what I'm talking about/authority). I then ask them what kind of budget they have for the project. This saves me a lot of time beating around the bush with bullshit clients. I know a lot of people disagree with this and it certainly turns some potential clients off, but 90% of the time, they give me a number that is in the area of what they want to spend.

**For the record, this is usually over at least a few emails or a couple phone calls. I don't ask this right off the bat.
Jun 9, 2015
I recently started an agency so I have some experience in this area.

My Favorite Qualifying Client Question:

What has been your previous monthly marketing spend?

I like this question in particular because you get some insight into their past attempts at marketing. It’s also a roundabout “what’s your budget”

This question also helps me immediately recognize what I’m dealing with. For example, I’ve gotten referrals where they’ll say “Oh I spend maybe $200 a month”. When I get responses like that, I realize that just about anything higher than that might be a problem. On the other hand, they might say “around $3,000 a month”. It also helps you realize how in-tune with their marketing they are. One time I got a response from a business owner that he wasn’t sure of monthly but he had an idea of how much they might have spent in the past year. If they say that number is increasing, then that's also good for you.

Also, in my opinion, people who want to work with you won’t mind the budget question. For example, today I had an exploratory call with a potential client looking to expand their marketing. Towards the end, they asked me what kind of budget they might need for advertising costs plus our monthly fee.

Even though you ask this question, you should still ask for budget. Although ideally, they'll be the one asking, not you.

There are a lot of tire-kickers and penny pinchers out in the world that you’re better off not bothering with.

Others that I use to qualify a prospect that have a deeper meaning:

What’s your current cost to acquire a customer?
This is a great one for agencies especially if they’re dealing with customers who aren’t sure, or if it’s really high. Most of the time, if they have an idea, it’s vague, so you get to “overdeliver”. Or, it’s high because they don’t know how to use ad platforms and they waste their spend on crappy targeting/keywords. This stuff is great for case studies, too. There’s a reason why so many agencies say they reduce CAC by 100% or more - it’s because they’re working off of vague numbers.

What are your revenue goals for this year?
If they’re low (you should know what your industry is like), then you know it’s probably not worth dealing with.

Do you have any internal marketing staff?
If they don’t, then you know then you are going to need a direct relationship with the top-level decision-makers. This can be tougher since these guys don’t know what the hell they are doing. Then again a lot of people in marketing don’t either. But at least you can make some sort of connection with their marketing team.