One of the biggest mistakes that I see service business owners make is taking on as a client anyone who has a 98.6 degree temperature who can pay them money. This is especially prevalent with new service business owners, as they are willing to do almost anything in order to land that first couple of clients.
Invariably, what they quickly discover is that their practice is full of a bunch of clients with whom they hate working. Does this sound like you?
Turning away clients who aren’t a good fit and waiting for the right client can actually increase your bottom line. How do I know that this works and how difficult it is to remain true to the principle? Because, of course, I used to be one of the biggest offenders of this strategy. It was only after several not-so-positive experiences in bad client selection that I decided to listen to what I had heard to be true about waiting for the right client but had never personally experienced.
During this time, the tapes in my head kept playing and telling me that I was nuts for passing up business. However, I resolutely hung on, trying with all my heart to believe that adhering to this concept was going to work for me. It was about a year or so into my business before I discovered first-hand how well this principle does work.
I had been approached by a motivational speaker to help him with his Internet marketing plans. We hit it off, and because I didn’t quite follow his description of his unique presentation style, I requested that he send me a tape of one of his performances. I received the tape a few days later, and after watching it, quite frankly thought it was one of the most unmotivational performances I had ever seen…LOL I knew that it would be a struggle for me to help him with his marketing, since I didn’t believe he was especially talented in his chosen field.
This was a time in my business when I could have really used the cash. The speaker and I had hit it off pretty well, and he wanted to promote himself in the college student activities circuit, which was my previous career background. I went back and forth numerous times during that weekend, trying to decide if I should agree to work with him, thinking that I’d make the best of it and it wouldn’t be that bad. Finally, I had to have a very harsh conversation with myself, saying that if I were this indecisive, I needed to decline the offer and I needed to suck it up, get over, tell him "no", and move on. Hey, I told you it was harsh..;->
Long story short, I called and told him that I didn’t think we were a good fit. About 2 weeks later, I was called by a prospective client who’d been referred to me about 6 months earlier by a current client. At the time of the initial referral, I was really busy and didn’t have the time or need to follow up with him. Now, however, was the perfect time. We spoke and I discovered he was doing some really cool things that were quite exciting to me and that I had the perfect skills to help him elevate his marketing. One additional conversation later, we decided to work together and he remained my client for about two years.
This experience was my light bulb moment, to quote Oprah Winfrey. Had I decided to work with the unmotivational motivational speaker who wasn’t a good fit, I would have had no room in my practice for the perfect client to come along two weeks later. Talk about being whacked between the eyes!
So, then, how do you determine who’s the right, or ideal, client for you? Make a checklist of your idea client qualities, which will ultimately serve as your client screening device. Here are some questions to get you started:
1. What are their beliefs?
2. What values do they hold dear?
3. What is their work style?
4. What industries are they in?
5. What are the traits and qualities of great colleagues/bosses/friends that made them enjoyable to work with or be around?
6. Are there foundational issues that need to be in place before someone is ready to work with you?
7. What traits and qualities of past clients have driven you crazy?
Once you have answered these questions to your satisfaction, bring up the most important issues in your introductory conversations with prospects and put those issues out on the table where they can’t be ignored. Discussing these issues with prospective clients is the only way to ensure that they fully understand what it means to work with you and what’s important to you, and you get a better picture of how well they fit your ideal client profile. If your gut tells you that’s it’s a poor fit, move along to the next prospect.
Whether you have to take it on faith or constantly talk yourself into adhering to this belief, waiting for the right client is absolutely the right thing to do and will ultimately increase your bottom line.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.