How Do You Find The Right Clients?

How do you decide who gets to be your client? There are a few criteria I have for allowing people into my world in a client relationship. Certainly money is one of the criteria because they have to be able to pay me. But too often that is the only criteria a professional has for a new client relationship. Today I share four other things you should look for in a client. Season 2 Show 39 Episode 161

As I've matured in my business career I've given a great deal of thought to the relationships I have with my clients.  Some clients are better than others. Why? Because they spend more money with you? Because they stay with you longer? Because they refer other people to you? All of those are important criteria, yes, but one of the most important criteria is the clients who follow your guidance and get the best results.

Many "gurus" will tell you to ignore the effort the clients put toward your work with them. They will tell you the only thing that's important is if the client pays you or not. They tell you you cannot control the effort of the client.

Imagine if a coach of a professional sports team said that. Imagine if they said: "Look, I came up with the plan. I shared the plan with the players. I opened the practice facility. I gave everyone team uniforms. That's all I can do." 

This coach be fired in a heartbeat and they would be out of coaching forever.

Why?

Because the players didn't execute and the coach chose those players.  Even in a situation where someone else selects the players, the coach chooses who to put in the game and how to prepare those players (mentally) to compete.

You have the same responsibility. When people come to you for help, you need to ask them some questions to determine if they are a good fit to be a part of your team. The results they achieve are going to be a reflection upon you. Their satisfaction will be a reflection upon you. If they want to give you their money, and do nothing, you should take it but make it clear at the outset, that's what they are paying for.

I have several different options for people who work with me. The money for nothing option is not something people admit they are signing up for but it often is the reality. When those people are honest and they say: "I just feel better when I have a weekly conversation with you, even if I do nothing."

The value I provide is clear and we are both on the same page.

Below are the qualities of a great client in professional services (clients for lawyers, CPAs, consultants, engineers, architects, etc.):

Money

People must be able to afford your services. This means they must have money to pay you, in advance. Anyone who cannot pay you in advance is not an ideal client.

You may choose to accept clients who do not meet this criteria, but when they screw you, it is your fault.  You read correctly. If you don't get your money up front, and the client fails to pay, that's your fault for accepting this situation.

A Problem You Can Help Them Solve or a Goal You Can Help Them Achieve

What outcome is the client looking to achieve? If you do your best work and the client is compliant, are you likely to achieve the best possible outcome? Are you the best qualified person to help this client with this issue? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," he is qualified to work with you.

The Ability to Make a Decision

Is the client ready willing and able to do business with you? Are they shopping around? Can they give you a "yes or no" answer to this question?  Many professionals take meetings with prospective clients who only want to pick tehir brain. This is a waste of time.  Every business development meeting should result in a decision.

Urgency

When does the client want to get started working with you? Are they standing on a burning platform? Why is NOW the right time to address this problem? If the client doesn't have this motivation - if he/she isn't ready to move on this right now, they aren't going to be a good client. Walk away.

Honest and Clear Expectations for Our Relationship

Is the client expecting a miracle? Does the client want something that is realistic from your relationship? If not, you're setting yourself up for failure. Too often professionals are hesitant to discuss these expectations in advance because they believe the client will go to someone else who will promise them the moon and then fail to deliver. 

Finally

Some of this advice is not in my best interest. Some of you reading this and listening to this episode of the show will decide not to work with me because you want to pay me and get rich over night - with minimal effort on your part.  

That would be bad for both of us.

I want to work with you to help you achieve your goals but we are both going to need to give our best. There will be pain - for you - but I will make it minimal. There will be intense effort on your part, but there will also be satisfaction.

And happiness.

If that's something you want, you're in the right place.  

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