10 Surefire Ways to Sniff Out Troublesome
Clients BEFORE you Agree to Work With Them
We always hear about how to attract ideal clients (which I love teaching, by the way), but how do you actually know when someone isn’t your ideal client?
What character traits, signals, and behaviors should you become aware of so that you don’t fall prey to having to deal with someone that you could have easily cut loose in the beginning? I remember proverbially pulling my hair out over this when I was just beginning in my career. What I’ve learned, however, is that you really are interviewing your potential clients, just as much as they are interviewing you.
Awareness is key. Contrast in life and relationships, can actually bring us closer to what we do want. Contrast leads to clarity. Getting clear about what you don’t want is just as important so you can be clear on what you do want, so you can attract and create it in your life.
Here are the top 10 things client warning signs to be aware of, in no particular order:
1. They don’t show up to the initial call or do what they say they are going to do.
You might have a call scheduled on the calendar, and be sending them reminders about the call that you set with them, but they are nowhere to be found. Leave it to them to get back in touch. If they want to reconnect, they will.
2. You Find Yourself Going Into “Convince Them” Mode
You find that you’re working hard to convince someone that you’re a great fit to work with them – however, they need to come to this conclusion themselves. Believe me, I’ve worn these shoes a few times before and they’re not comfy at all! Your business relationship will work much better if your client understands how you plan to help and guide them get their desired results. If they are confused on this point, you leave too much room for conflict down the road. Ambiguity leads to confusion in these cases, especially when it comes to defining guidelines around how you intend to work with someone. A client needs to be able to articulate for themselves (and back to you) how you will be assisting them, and why you’re the person that they want to support them in getting their desired outcomes.
3. The Closed-Off Aggressor
This client is someone who isn’t open to listening to new ideas or other options. They may not be able to face the reality of having
ownership in creating the situation they’re currently in, or not be willing to look at themselves, and do the work needed. You may hear them say things like… “Yes, I’m already doing that,” “I’ve done that before and know what’s next. I don’t think this will work,” and ” I don’t think I can make the time to do this.” My advice: run – quickly, in the other direction!
4. Unrealistic Timelines and Deadlines
They question you repeatedly “how long will everything take?” but their timelines are unrealistic. Keep in mind that a client who wants their first project done differently no matter what you offer, or insists on a lesser amount of sessions than what you offer (and you know they’re necessary to get the job done), will continue this pattern throughout your entire time of your working relationship. They may or may not see the results they desire if they change your process, which you know – but they aren’t listening to your explanation. A good way to weed this type of client out is to ask for their feedback around why this needs to be rushed and see if this is their normal mode of operation, or this is a one-time occurrence.
5. What Synergy?
Things are not flowing and something just feels off between you both. You weren’t connecting to their videos or what their testimonials said about them, or perhaps your dynamic just doesn’t work. To avoid this, do as much research on your potential clients as they should be doing on you. We all have Google and access to social media – so use it. It doesn’t matter how many likes someone has or how famous he or she is, because you need to connect with someone both personally and professionally in able to help them. Trust your instincts. They will always lead you in the right direction.
6. They Don’t Match Your Target Market
It’s easy to take clients on because you want the money, but don’t let the money convince you to take clients outside of who you normally serve. This will keep you from attracting that which you want. Additionally, it may not be in your highest interest because you won’t be able to use the ensuing success story or testimonial for future clients in your target group. These individuals might be great to work with, so you may want to consider sending them over to an ideal partner you know, so they have a great client too. In this way, you still provide excellent client support, and create a relationship where this partner will want to refer someone to you the next time they come across someone that is your ideal client as well.
7. Discounts and Guarantees Are Driving the Conversation
Many people are used to bargaining and looking for the best price for products, services, etc., but there is a caveat: people value what they invest in (especially financially). If they aren’t financially invested in what you’re providing, they could turn into a nightmare client who doesn’t do the work or show up when needed, which sets you both up for failure. If a potential client tries to cut your rates, know that this will probably become a pattern. Know that they may be difficult to up-sell to in the future or may even end up not be happy with anything you do for them.
Your ideal client will be someone that appreciates your value and will be willing to be pay you what you are worth.
8. Someone Isn’t Fully Invested
You may also come across someone that’s not totally invested in the work mentally or emotionally. They may take the project or work with you because someone suggested it to them or they were instructed by management to do so. Figure out what their interest level is upfront before you move forward with a big agreement. Or, if you don’t feel like the person will be responsive, ask their manager if there could be another point person for this client engagement. In the end, if someone isn’t fully invested in the process, they won’t see the results they crave or their company wants, and won’t leave you with a good testimonial.
9. They Don’t Trust Your Expertise and Experience
You position your offer, service, and pricing and they want everything changed. This person isn’t considering your expertise as you have come up with the best solution for them, or have experience working with people . How can you come to some common denominator? If that seems too difficult, jump ship. This person will never be satisfied with the results you provide or guide them to achieve.
10. Listen to their words AND watch their actions
I know for me if someone is telling me that they don’t like to listen to the advice of others (which I’ve had that happen), I didn’t waste my time sharing how I can help them get from point A to B in their business. Listen attentively and be cognizant of what people say when you are having an introductory session with them. Ask them how they feel about moving forward and listen. Their response will say it all.
Sometimes the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words,” can also ring true. The words out of someone’s mouth might say they need your help, but then you encounter the resistance to everything you say for them to do. If someone doesn’t want to follow your guidance, it’s a sure sign they won’t do all the work required on their part experience the success you both want.
Whether I’m meeting someone in person or connecting on the phone, the above are top 10 red flags I pay attention to before moving forward with a client. I know there are probably more. What has come up for you in the past? What lessons have you learned?