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How To Prevent Clients From Being Stolen? (By Remote Freelancers)

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GetShitDone

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I run a digital marketing agency and I outsource Client Fulfillment to a team of freelancers I've hired.

One of which is a lead generator who has access to all of my clients as he generates the leads for them.

How can I prevent/minimize the chance of him stealing all my clients if he wanted to?

I understand I have to trust him, etc - However, he lives on a different continent and I just want to ensure I do whatever I can to protecting myself instead of being vulnerable.

Are there any measures one can take to prevent clients from being stolen by staff?
 

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DonJuan

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How about an NDA that also stipulates that they shouldn't get in touch with the agency's clients? That seems like a good first measure in your situation, and would dissuade almost anyone from getting in touch with your clients directly.
 

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If he wants to steal them and they want to go then they’re welcome to each other. I’d rather work with people who value loyalty.
 

ApparentHorizon

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I've started getting my VAs to work directly with my clients now. Best decision ever.

My demo would never work directly with someone overseas, by themselves. Hell, getting people to work with someone in the UK is a challenge.

People do business with people they see themselves in.

Long ago, one of my clients said, "I'm not convinced this will work. But you remind me of me when I started."
 
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Andy Black

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Also, surely they’re not going to get the same value if they leave? What extra value do they get working with you rather than your freelancer?
 

Andy Black

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I've started getting my VAs to work directly with my clients now. Best decision ever.

My demo would never work directly with someone overseas. Hell, getting people to work with someone in the UK is a challenge.

People do business with people they see themselves in.

Long ago, one of my clients said, "I'm not convinced this will work. But you remind me of me when I started."
I’ve started getting clients to have direct relationships with the freelancers I use, including them getting paid directly by the client. It’s quite refreshing.
 

ApparentHorizon

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I’ve started getting clients to have direct relationships with the freelancers I use, including them getting paid directly by the client. It’s quite refreshing.
That can cause friction in the future. If the freelancer leaves the client has to re-setup payment. Then, again, I have everyone on automatic payments.

The game is to get as much money flowing through my system as possible. Then we figure out how it gets distributed.
 

Andy Black

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That can cause friction in the future. If the freelancer leaves the client has to re-setup payment. Then, again, I have everyone on automatic payments.

The game is to get as much money flowing through my system as possible. Then we figure out how it gets distributed.
What I meant was, rather than whitelabelling a freelancer’s service I just put them in direct contact with the client.
 

Tom.V

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I run a team of 20. They all know that they couldn't do it on their own, and I know I couldn't do it without them. Seems to work.
 

Kevin88660

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I run a digital marketing agency and I outsource Client Fulfillment to a team of freelancers I've hired.

One of which is a lead generator who has access to all of my clients as he generates the leads for them.

How can I prevent/minimize the chance of him stealing all my clients if he wanted to?

I understand I have to trust him, etc - However, he lives on a different continent and I just want to ensure I do whatever I can to protecting myself instead of being vulnerable.

Are there any measures one can take to prevent clients from being stolen by staff?
I suspect the root cause is that as an intermediary your margin is too high.

Economic forces prevail. The client and your free lancer figure out that by removing you both are better off.
 

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OP
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GetShitDone

GetShitDone

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Also, surely they’re not going to get the same value if they leave? What extra value do they get working with you rather than your freelancer?
We provide a packaged service, so each freelancer is only one piece to the puzzle.

My fear is they run off with the freelancer and hire another freelancer to do what the other freelancers on my team were doing. Or the freelancer hires other people and just copies my business + takes my clients.

Seems like this is just a risk you need to take and hire trusted people when it comes to having a remote business backed by freelancers
 

Sanj Modha

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How about an NDA that also stipulates that they shouldn't get in touch with the agency's clients? That seems like a good first measure in your situation, and would dissuade almost anyone from getting in touch with your clients directly.
Try enforcing this in another country/continent. Plus, it's expensive.
 

Sanj Modha

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This is super easy to resolve from something I learned during my entrepreneurial journey: humans respond to incentives.

I have 12 employees (mostly media buyers) to run our e-commerce brands and they run some campaigns for clients too - I pay them up to $500 per account, per month and they cannot get this deal anywhere.

I don't care about the hours they work so I'm not bothered about time trackers and we focus on the only metric that matters - conversions.

I have employees who make more money than university lecturers in their respective countries so why would they steal my clients or leave?
 

Andy Black

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This is super easy to resolve from something I learned during my entrepreneurial journey: humans respond to incentives.

I have 12 employees (mostly media buyers) to run our e-commerce brands and they run some campaigns for clients too - I pay them up to $500 per account, per month and they cannot get this deal anywhere.

I don't care about the hours they work so I'm not bothered about time trackers and we focus on the only metric that matters - conversions.

I have employees who make more money than university lecturers in their respective countries so why would they steal my clients or leave?
Yeah, this. I encourage my freelancers to have other clients, and I make it my goal so that I keep giving them enough work that they don’t need other clients.

I’ve encouraged a “a rising tide lifts all boats” mindset.

Plus they get to see the inside of my boat as I try to keep it afloat, and steer it through the rapids.
 

Sanj Modha

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Yeah, this. I encourage my freelancers to have other clients, and I make it my goal so that I keep giving them enough work that they don’t need other clients.

I’ve encouraged a “a rising tide lifts all boats” mindset.

Plus they get to see the inside of my boat as I try to keep it afloat, and steer it through the rapids.
Another important lesson I've learned since becoming an "entrepreneur" - nearly all brands are commodities.

If what you offer your clients and freelancers is a commodity - they'll leave when its faster, better, cheaper, easier etc.

If you become a brand - its no so easy for them to leave because you're an awesome boss/service provider, you work with awesome clients and pay you amazing rates.

It's simple to me: build a brand.
 

Armil Velos

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Dec 1, 2014
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I run a digital marketing agency and I outsource Client Fulfillment to a team of freelancers I've hired.

One of which is a lead generator who has access to all of my clients as he generates the leads for them.

How can I prevent/minimize the chance of him stealing all my clients if he wanted to?

I understand I have to trust him, etc - However, he lives on a different continent and I just want to ensure I do whatever I can to protecting myself instead of being vulnerable.

Are there any measures one can take to prevent clients from being stolen by staff?
How about hiring a secretary or a virtual assistant who'll in charge to directly communicate with your clients. And the role of your team of freelancers will just deliver through your VA.
 

pumpking

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What I meant was, rather than whitelabelling a freelancer’s service I just put them in direct contact with the client.
I must be too green or naive to understand why this works, or my business model is too different than yours... or something. If your client is in direct communication with your freelancer, what value are you putting into the transaction?

Mine is a service based business.
 
OP
OP
GetShitDone

GetShitDone

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Dec 20, 2012
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Vancouver, Sydney, London
This is super easy to resolve from something I learned during my entrepreneurial journey: humans respond to incentives.

I have 12 employees (mostly media buyers) to run our e-commerce brands and they run some campaigns for clients too - I pay them up to $500 per account, per month and they cannot get this deal anywhere.

I don't care about the hours they work so I'm not bothered about time trackers and we focus on the only metric that matters - conversions.

I have employees who make more money than university lecturers in their respective countries so why would they steal my clients or leave?
Yeah, this. I encourage my freelancers to have other clients, and I make it my goal so that I keep giving them enough work that they don’t need other clients.

I’ve encouraged a “a rising tide lifts all boats” mindset.

Plus they get to see the inside of my boat as I try to keep it afloat, and steer it through the rapids.
So basically pay more or provide them more work. My service is on the affordable end of the spectrum ($1k-$1.5k/mo), so I can't pay them a lot more. Can give them more work. Guess I need to figure out what the special variable is that they can't get elsewhere.

I must be too green or naive to understand why this works, or my business model is too different than yours... or something. If your client is in direct communication with your freelancer, what value are you putting into the transaction?

Mine is a service based business.
Well each of my clients is in a dedicated slack group chat with the freelancers dedicated to working with them currently. So I have that sort of too now, also have a VA in there as the 'head of accounts'. The risk of them DMing each other is there. Again need to have something that adds more value to prevent them going rogue.
 
OP
OP
GetShitDone

GetShitDone

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Another important lesson I've learned since becoming an "entrepreneur" - nearly all brands are commodities.

If what you offer your clients and freelancers is a commodity - they'll leave when its faster, better, cheaper, easier etc.

If you become a brand - its no so easy for them to leave because you're an awesome boss/service provider, you work with awesome clients and pay you amazing rates.

It's simple to me: build a brand.
I'm currently getting clients via cold outreach. Going to be creating a partnership referral program soon.

As for a brand - I want to launch a Facebook Group Funnel to create a community. What are your main ways to create a brand?
 

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Mattie

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If he wants to steal them and they want to go then they’re welcome to each other. I’d rather work with people who value loyalty.
Well I wasn't a client but a staff member and when I was a nurse aide, the reason I ended up being stolen by another company is because they basically were not honest people. Didn't follow through what they promised. It's the same with clients. They either feel you give quality service or you don't.
 

S.Y.

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Well each of my clients is in a dedicated slack group chat with the freelancers dedicated to working with them currently. So I have that sort of too now, also have a VA in there as the 'head of accounts'. The risk of them DMing each other is there. Again need to have something that adds more value to prevent them going rogue.
Huh? What is the value that you are bringing?

If you want a hedge, the best way to do it is through a value-add. How are you making the freelancers better? What are you bringing to the table that your freelancers by themselves don't?

If I compare your lead generator to you, what will make me go with you & not with him?
 

Bekit

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I run a digital marketing agency and I outsource Client Fulfillment to a team of freelancers I've hired.

One of which is a lead generator who has access to all of my clients as he generates the leads for them.

How can I prevent/minimize the chance of him stealing all my clients if he wanted to?

I understand I have to trust him, etc - However, he lives on a different continent and I just want to ensure I do whatever I can to protecting myself instead of being vulnerable.

Are there any measures one can take to prevent clients from being stolen by staff?
"One of which is a lead generator who has access to all of my clients as he generates the leads for them."

There's a lot of lead gen companies who don't take the trouble to service the clients that they generate. It's outside the scope of their service. They're focused on the one thing they do.

I know a guy who did lead gen sales calls. The company he worked for was doing lead gen only. If my friend found a qualified lead, he'd connect the call over to a solar company who wanted the leads.

So just because someone finds qualified leads for a service does NOT mean that they're interested in servicing those leads. Maybe it's outside of their skill set. Maybe they don't WANT to hire this out. Maybe it just seems like a headache or a distraction to the business owner. Whatever.

I mean - if they wanted to run a digital marketing agency, they easily could. After all, they know how to generate leads.

(For all you know, they could be running a digital marketing agency on the side already and only passing on the "B-grade" leads to you, while keeping all the "A-grade" leads for themselves. Not really relevant if you are satisfied with the quality of the leads you are getting. But if you imagine that they might already be servicing some of their leads, then you can probably just rest comfortably in the knowledge that they don't have much incentive to steal or poach your leads.)

To hedge against this...
  • I would look into how other companies handle working with lead gen services. What do their NDA's and other contracts look like?
  • Ask them straight up, "How do I know that you wouldn't poach one of my leads?" They probably have to handle this objection all the time when they onboard new clients. So they probably have some assurances in place. See if you feel comfortable with their response.
  • Could you bring the lead generation in-house? Couldn't you just as easily reproduce what they're doing?
In a symbiotic relationship, it would be more expensive for you to bring lead gen in-house, and it would be more expensive for them to service the leads they generate. Therefore, you would both operate happily within the business focus you've chosen, and there would be limited need to hedge against the risk that they would poach your clients.
 
OP
OP
GetShitDone

GetShitDone

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Dec 20, 2012
373
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Vancouver, Sydney, London
Huh? What is the value that you are bringing?

If you want a hedge, the best way to do it is through a value-add. How are you making the freelancers better? What are you bringing to the table that your freelancers by themselves don't?

If I compare your lead generator to you, what will make me go with you & not with him?
I have 2 other freelancers who provide other different services to the lead generator. I don't just provide lead generation in my package, but a couple other major things. It's all packaged into one all-in-one service. That's the value-add on my end.

Whether that's enough for you to go/stay with me is another question.

"One of which is a lead generator who has access to all of my clients as he generates the leads for them."

There's a lot of lead gen companies who don't take the trouble to service the clients that they generate. It's outside the scope of their service. They're focused on the one thing they do.

I know a guy who did lead gen sales calls. The company he worked for was doing lead gen only. If my friend found a qualified lead, he'd connect the call over to a solar company who wanted the leads.

So just because someone finds qualified leads for a service does NOT mean that they're interested in servicing those leads. Maybe it's outside of their skill set. Maybe they don't WANT to hire this out. Maybe it just seems like a headache or a distraction to the business owner. Whatever.

I mean - if they wanted to run a digital marketing agency, they easily could. After all, they know how to generate leads.

(For all you know, they could be running a digital marketing agency on the side already and only passing on the "B-grade" leads to you, while keeping all the "A-grade" leads for themselves. Not really relevant if you are satisfied with the quality of the leads you are getting. But if you imagine that they might already be servicing some of their leads, then you can probably just rest comfortably in the knowledge that they don't have much incentive to steal or poach your leads.)

To hedge against this...
  • I would look into how other companies handle working with lead gen services. What do their NDA's and other contracts look like?
  • Ask them straight up, "How do I know that you wouldn't poach one of my leads?" They probably have to handle this objection all the time when they onboard new clients. So they probably have some assurances in place. See if you feel comfortable with their response.
  • Could you bring the lead generation in-house? Couldn't you just as easily reproduce what they're doing?
In a symbiotic relationship, it would be more expensive for you to bring lead gen in-house, and it would be more expensive for them to service the leads they generate. Therefore, you would both operate happily within the business focus you've chosen, and there would be limited need to hedge against the risk that they would poach your clients.

"One of which is a lead generator who has access to all of my clients as he generates the leads for them."

There's a lot of lead gen companies who don't take the trouble to service the clients that they generate. It's outside the scope of their service. They're focused on the one thing they do.

I know a guy who did lead gen sales calls. The company he worked for was doing lead gen only. If my friend found a qualified lead, he'd connect the call over to a solar company who wanted the leads.

So just because someone finds qualified leads for a service does NOT mean that they're interested in servicing those leads. Maybe it's outside of their skill set. Maybe they don't WANT to hire this out. Maybe it just seems like a headache or a distraction to the business owner. Whatever.

I mean - if they wanted to run a digital marketing agency, they easily could. After all, they know how to generate leads.

(For all you know, they could be running a digital marketing agency on the side already and only passing on the "B-grade" leads to you, while keeping all the "A-grade" leads for themselves. Not really relevant if you are satisfied with the quality of the leads you are getting. But if you imagine that they might already be servicing some of their leads, then you can probably just rest comfortably in the knowledge that they don't have much incentive to steal or poach your leads.)

To hedge against this...
  • I would look into how other companies handle working with lead gen services. What do their NDA's and other contracts look like?
  • Ask them straight up, "How do I know that you wouldn't poach one of my leads?" They probably have to handle this objection all the time when they onboard new clients. So they probably have some assurances in place. See if you feel comfortable with their response.
  • Could you bring the lead generation in-house? Couldn't you just as easily reproduce what they're doing?
In a symbiotic relationship, it would be more expensive for you to bring lead gen in-house, and it would be more expensive for them to service the leads they generate. Therefore, you would both operate happily within the business focus you've chosen, and there would be limited need to hedge against the risk that they would poach your clients.
Thanks for that.

This makes sense.

I suppose I'm just trying to have a major assurance in place before I scale my business with them as my lead generator. That's all I can do though.
 

kleine2

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I run a digital marketing agency and I outsource Client Fulfillment to a team of freelancers I've hired.

One of which is a lead generator who has access to all of my clients as he generates the leads for them.

How can I prevent/minimize the chance of him stealing all my clients if he wanted to?

I understand I have to trust him, etc - However, he lives on a different continent and I just want to ensure I do whatever I can to protecting myself instead of being vulnerable.

Are there any measures one can take to prevent clients from being stolen by staff?
I agree with what @Andy Black said about added value. I recommend you make a list or document of the value that you provide beyond just the 2 or N freelancers who provide service through you. And then think about how you can increase those things in your service. Also, you can have the clients sign a contract that they can't work directly with the freelancers.
 
OP
OP
GetShitDone

GetShitDone

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Dec 20, 2012
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Vancouver, Sydney, London
I agree with what @Andy Black said about added value. I recommend you make a list or document of the value that you provide beyond just the 2 or N freelancers who provide service through you. And then think about how you can increase those things in your service. Also, you can have the clients sign a contract that they can't work directly with the freelancers.
Good idea, I will get that together.

Yes - I've made them both (clients & freelancers) sign agreements to not poach clients/freelancers, but I find it utterly useless to enforce especially as they're all overseas. Just seems like a formality to come across as serious.
 

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