Captain’s log, stardate 20170517
Sent by Jonathan Stark on May 17th, 2017
Life is too short to work with bad clients.
And by “bad clients” I specifically mean “clients for whom you are not a good fit.”
Taking on bad clients just because you need the money is a short term solution that creates a long-term problem:
You end up getting paid poorly for work you hate.
Over. And over. And over...
Wash rinse and repeat.
In my 10+ years of consulting, I have learned to spot bad (for me) clients early in the sales cycle by being sensitive to certain interactions that I consider to be “red flags”:
- Prospect says the project “shouldn’t be too hard” or something to that effect.
- Prospect has a strong idea about how long the project will take.
- Prospect replies to email in a way that indicates they didn’t really read (or perhaps comprehend) my message.
- Prospect uses language that is too formal for me (or not formal enough).
- Prospect seems obsessed with price before we’ve even discussed the project.
- Prospect tells me that they have had bad experiences with consultants in the past.
- Prospect seems to run their business in an overly reactive way (vs a proactive way)
- Prospect asks me to sign an NDA before having an initial sales call.
- Prospect refuses to engage in a Why Conversation on our initial sales call.
- Prospect can’t answer Why questions to my satisfaction (and won’t/can’t put me in touch with someone who can).
- Prospect and I can’t agree upon clear business goals for the project.
- Prospect insists on what I believe to be unrealistic goals for the project.
- Prospect insists on what I believe to be an unrealistic timeline for the project.
Whenever I have ignored these red flags, I have ended up regretting it.
NOTE: My list is not meant to be used verbatim. Some of your red flags will probably be different from mine. Make your own list—and stick to it!
P.S. Implicit in a message like this is that you should be turning down work from prospects who are less than ideal for your business. If you’re not in a position to turn down bad clients, we should talk.